Sharing by Mr Lim and Ms Tan
What are some of our considerations regarding secondary school options?
1) School strengths
Each secondary school has its unique strengths, or what we now call “niche areas”. For instance, it could be a sport or a certain programme offered. Go through the information on the school information portals (MOE and the official school websites). Students and parents should consider whether the school’s offering matches the students’ interests and strengths.
2) School Values and Culture
For some families, the school motto and culture are of utmost importance. What does the school stand for? Does it have a history of advocating certain values? How do the school’s programmes exemplify those belief systems? All schools have their own presentation of these value systems. All schools aim to teach positively, and the staff should be on board in the modelling and nurturing of these values. It is up to us to consider and select the schools that match our preferences and inclinations.
3) Long Term Options: CCA and Upper Secondary subject combinations
Take a good look at the CCA list, as well as the subjects offered for Upper Secondary students. These affect the students’ overall experience in the school. As the base of one’s socialisation, students look forward to school life if they have a CCA to anchor on. It is also a key avenue for inculcating intangible values like perseverance and kindness. As for the subject combinations, the students should be able to exercise independent choice. They should have the option to select subjects that appeal to them, as well as allow them to showcase their best abilities. Realistically, CCA and subject combinations can affect their future pathways. Hence, it is important to take these into consideration.
It might not seem to be a huge issue, but secondary school life can be very long in terms of the physical hours. Typically, most secondary schools run their daily programmes from 730am to about 2 in the afternoon. Fit in CCAs, supplementary classes, special programmes, assembly, etc and the students might find themselves engaged till evening time. If the school is far away from home, the poor student would have to trudge home for late dinner, then battle with a pile of homework and assignments. A certain amount of travelling is possible for our teenagers. At the same time, please be mindful of the distance as well as ease of transport, such as changing buses or having to walk a long distance from the station to the school. Time spent on endless travelling could be better allocated to rest time and other meaningful tasks.
How do we find out more about schools?
1) Official websites like MOE school information system and school websites
2) Visit during Open House
3) Talk to students and parents from the school
4) Online reviews in forums or social media applications
Finally, parents and students often wonder what a “good” school should look like. In our world today, the school is only as good as one that checks the boxes on your list. Each student and each parent would have a different idea about what a good school is. Discuss thoroughly and respect the choices of each student and parent. Remember that it is the student who will have to live through at least 4 years in the secondary school. The teenager should be given the chance to express one’s desires and thoughts, then guided to make a selection that fits best. It’s the beginning of a new journey!