It’s the same question every year this time, when students in Singapore are making that all-important final choice of secondary schools. “Do you think it is better to choose Normal Academic in a good school than to choose to go to Express in a school with a bad rep?” Sigh.... here are the reasons you should not think this way: 1) Don’t misread the T-score To the student: if your strongest subject in your slate of 4 PSLE subjects is English, don’t forget that in a secondary school, your ability in English is going to be an advantage in five O level subjects - Eng Lang, Eng Lit, History and Geog and finally the compulsory Social Studies at Upp Sec. That means the student who may see a T-score that appears to be a borderline Express cut-off should take comfort that they are likely to benefit from their strength in English when they get to Express stream. 2) To the student: You made it to Express. Instead of thinking from a position of weakness because your T-score is low, remind yourself that you did well enough to get into Express on your own terms. 3) Next, save for reasons that have to do with diagnosed learning dysfunctions where a slower pace is recommended, it’s logical to choose the “path of least resistance”. Instead of thinking of giving up that place in Express for the NA stream in what others claim is a better school and hoping that you will do well enough in Secondary 1 to merit a transfer to Express stream in that school the following year, it is far less stressful to work towards securing a transfer to another secondary school at the end of Sec 1. Who knows, you might even enjoy your Sec 1 year so much, there will be no need to consider a transfer. We have heard it said that “every school is a good school”; in some ways, it is more realistic to say that in every school, there will be bad hats, be they bullies who pick on smaller, weaker ones or snobs who may gang up to ostracise a classmate. It is a fallacy to think that so-called neighbourhood schools (every school is in a neighbourhood!!!) are the only places where you can find bullies. Mean kids can come from rich families too! When kids feel a sense of entitlement, that’s when the trouble starts. 4) Parents like to choose schools that have been around, that Ah Ma and Grandpa know. Actually, if they think like teaching professionals, they will see things differently. The teaching professional who is looking for a transfer might relish the idea of helping a new school establish its name. Everyone is starting with a clean slate. You as a student might even get to be a pioneer in the real sense of the word, setting up new co-curricular activities groups. So don’t worry about outdated views about what’s a good school or not. Finally, once you have started secondary school and found your footing in new subjects and new CCAs, you will look back and wonder why you even had any fears about coping with the demands of secondary school. --------------------------- For information on Mrs D's English Enrichment Programmes for 2019, please visit my website, or get in touch at +65 81386011.