MOE P1 registration starts on 4 July 2023. It’s no secret that every parent wants the best for their children, including giving them headstarts in life where possible. For some, this means anticipating the P1 registration, the window to apply their children to a choice primary school.
We’ve heard stories of ‘kiasu’ parents donating generous sums to or doing volunteer work with their preferred primary school. But did you know: there are actually parents who are more than ready to buy a new property and move just to be closer to their preferred primary school?
P1 Registration 2023 Phases
|P1 registration phase||Who can apply during this P1 registration phase|
|Phase 1||Children with siblings studying in the primary school|
|Phase 2A||Children whose parents or siblings are alumni, whose parents are part of the school advisory or management committee, or who themselves are studying in an MOE kindergarten situated within the primary school|
|Phase 2B||Children who are endorsed as activate community leaders, church, or clan members connected to the primary school, of whose parents volunteer at the primary school|
|Phase 2C||Children with no ties to the primary school of choice, when priority is based on the distance between their home and the primary school|
|Phase 2C (supplementary)||Children whose MOE P1 registration Phase 2Cs were unsuccessful will be posted to a primary school with vacancies|
MOE P1 registration Phase 2C is usually the most competitive since there are more parents applying their children to primary schools near their homes than say, who were alumni of their children’s primary school of choice.
MOE P1 Registration Phase 2C
In August 2022, MOE doubled the slots for children applying for the P1 registration Phase 2C to 40 students per primary school, up from 20 students previously. According to MOE, this was done "in the educational interest of children, to help them spend less time travelling and have more time to pursue other interests, as well as for the convenience of the family".
The methodology used to calculate the distance between homes and schools for MOE P1 registration was also reevaluated, resulting in broader coverage of residences within 1km and 2km of the desired school. With the revisions, the government anticipates a 10% increase in eligible applications, defined by the boundary lines of 1km and 2km.
MOE P1 Registration Phase 2C Eligibility Criteria
|Priority level||MOE P1 registration Phase 2C criteria|
|First priority||Singaporeans who live within a 1km radius of the primary school|
|Second priority||Singaporeans who live between a 1km and 2km radius of the primary school|
|Third priority||Singaporeans who live outside a 2km radius of the primary school|
|Fourth priority||Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) who live within a 1km radius of the primary school|
|Fifth priority||PRs who live within a 1km and 2km radius of the primary school|
|Sixth priority||PRs who live outside a 2km radius of the primary school|
As you can see, the MOE P1 registration prioritises a child’s admittance to the school based on the distance from their home. This could make a massive difference in whether your child gets into your choice school – especially if it is a choice school.
Note for parents: MOE determines the distance (i.e. Home-School Distance) from your house to your primary school of choice based on the address your child (i.e. you and your family) has been living in for the last 30 months. If you’ve been living in a home beyond a 2km radius of your primary school of choice, your child will be qualified under the sixth priority of the MOE P1 registration Phase 2C or Phase 2C (supplementary).
Would you move for your child to get a higher chance of admission to a primary school of choice? We certainly wouldn’t. Nonetheless, we were interested if other Singaporean parents might. We interviewed six current and expecting parents to get their opinions on this ‘controversial’ strategy.
1. "Yes, I Want to Give My Child Access to a Strong Network"
A newlywed, 28, and his wife who live in Dover plan to have kids in three years. They hope to send their children to Fairfield Methodist Primary School or Methodist Girls’ School when the time comes.
For the couple, the move to Dover was strategic. “We chose Dover for a variety of reasons: the inherent apartment itself, layout, age, estate, and proximity to the workplace. But yes, the schools were a consideration for us," he shared.
He added that he does value sending his children to a choice primary school, explaining that primary schools are “the first step in providing your children with access to a really strong network”.
“In my line of work, I’ve seen what being tapped into a network can do for you. It opens doors: to better opportunities, to better education, to a better lifestyle,” he said. He does, however, acknowledge that living near the school “doesn’t increase your chances significantly, but it is better than nothing”.
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2. "Yes, I Want Convenience and To Reduce My Travelling Time"
Sun, 32, had her first child in August 2021. She currently lives in a Macpherson HDB flat, which is a great city-fringe location but has no primary schools nearby.
For Sun, she would want to move closer to a primary school more for convenience, rather than getting into a choice primary school. “If I were to move in a few years, staying near any primary school would be the main factor. Being a working mum, I would want to cut down as much travel time as possible,” she said.
Gabriel, 29, agreed with Sun’s point on convenience. He has a three-year-old who will enter primary school in 2028. He hopes to send his child to Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) and intends for their future sibling to be in the same school.
Eventually, he intends to relocate his family to be nearer to the school as it is “more convenient” and can “save on travelling time”. He and his family are currently living with his parents while waiting for their BTO flat to be completed.
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3. "Yes, I’d Love My Parents and In-laws to Help With After-school Care"
Katie, 28, wants to move closer to the school of her choice. She currently lives in Punggol but wants to move near to St. Stephen’s School in Siglap.
When she decided on St. Stephen’s School, she had two criteria in mind: firstly, it had to be affiliated with reputable secondary schools St. Joseph’s Institution and St. Patrick’s School. Secondly, it had to be near her parents and in-laws’ homes in the East. This way, her son will be able to go over to his grandparents’ homes after school and they can help take care of him on weekdays.
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4. "Maybe, But I Already Live Within a 2km Radius of a Choice Primary School"
Sabrina, 33, has two children aged five and seven years old, with her eldest entering primary school this year. She is hoping to send them both to St. Joseph’s Institution Junior and thankfully, she already lives in the Boon Keng area. The fact that her current address falls within the catchment area of her preferred school is just a happy accident.
Because of this, Sabrina and her husband have no plans to move, even when they were beyond the 30-month MOE P1 registration Home-School Distance assessment period for their eldest child. However, if they wanted to move for other reasons, they would have considered a location even closer to St. Joseph’s Institution Junior, as it would’ve increased her eldest – and now youngest child’s – priority statuses for school enrollment.
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Would You Move For Your Children’s P1 MOE Registration: Conclusion
|Pros of moving for your children’s primary school||Cons of moving for your children’s primary school|
|Priority status if you live within a 1km and 2km radius of the primary school||Priority status is not guaranteed|
|More convenient to travel to and fro school||Potentially expensive as proximity to choice schools tend to drive up property prices|
|More rest for your child in the morning||Living near a school zone may be inconvenient (e.g. heavy traffic, noisy children, and school bells)|
As Singapore continues to develop its non-mature estates (e.g. Tengah) to cater to young families living in BTO flats, choice primary schools may increasingly establish themselves or relocate to neighbourhoods further from the city centre. In February 2023, Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) announced that it would be moving to Tengah in 2030 and be re-established as a co-ed school.
Shortly after, the Singapore Turf Club closure and Jurong Lake District (JLD) H1 2023 Government Land Sales (GLS) programme white zone launch triggered imaginations of how the north and west of Singapore could develop into new mixed-use development regions, accommodating housing, business districts, and family planning – including a healthy supply of choice schools – within the respective neighbourhoods.
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