ENGLISH ENRICHMENT PROGRAMMES by Mrs D
Mrs Nora de Silva (a.k.a. Mrs D) 1964 - 2019
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THE RIGHT SECONDARY SCHOOL
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILD
Insight - to the sometimes unexpected, and regretful outcomes of choices;
Notes - on what to ask at an open house as well as what to look out for in a secondary school;
Signs - that a school is conveying an exemplary value system;
Indications - of a thriving school that you can pick up in the yearly MOE handbook;
Guidance - on how you can determine which exam pathway is suitable for your child;
Hand-holding - with examples of factors to consider for different student profiles, for boys and for girls;
Truths - (as opposed to misconceptions) about what would be a good choice for your child).
Mrs D had the rare distinction of being one of the very few teachers who could claim to have taken many students from the Singapore (SEAB) PSLE EL to A-Levels General Paper.
The book was written with the busy parent in mind, with lots of illustrations (tables, lists, even a template of how you should profile your child) to help the parent anxious to get down to picking the schools.
You will find, in this book;
It's not just about getting good or even great PSLE results... it's about making the RIGHT choice for your child.
Don't let it be a matter of regret later on; find out what you need to know before you make this all-important decision for your child.
S$15 (inclusive of normal mail within Singapore)
"Identifying the Traps" - a bit from the book
1. IT'S A NEW WORLD NOW, FORGET WHAT YOU REMEMBER
Don’t choose a secondary school based on a memory of what you went through while you were a student. It could have been almost two decades since you last saw the school grounds and you should not presume that the school ethos is still the same. What could have changed, you ask? Well, for starters, things were simpler then; the goals of the principal and management were unlikely to be as chock-full of key performance indicators as they might be nowadays. There was probably no need to fear that the subject combinations available in any secondary school were any different from those in other schools. That is quite a different matter now. Each school’s offerings can be quite unique, and a founder’s mission can be a pursuit long gone, now referred to but not always remembered.
2. COMPARE APPLES WITH APPLES
Don’t choose a school just because it is ranked at the top, and don’t go down the list ticking off all the choices (School no. 2, School no. 3 and so on) in an effort to get the school next in the pecking order. You need to compare apples with apples. So it does not do to go from Rafﬂes Institution (RI) to Hwa Chong Institution (HCI)and then to Anglo Chinese School (Independent) or ACSI. The differences are:
• RI - A-level pathway, English stream origins, original Gifted Education Programme school
• HCI - A-level pathway, previously a Special Assistance Plan (SAP) school, Chinese stream origins, ﬁrst junior college to offer the PROMSHO or the Humanities scholarship
• ACSI, - International Baccalaureate pathway and also the O-levels, mission school, English stream origins
So if you want the IB diploma, choose IB ﬁrst and identify the schools that offer this pathway.Otherwise, stick to the other mainstream schools.
3. SOFT OPTIONS ARE JUST THAT - SOFT
Don’t choose a secondary school just so your child can beneﬁt from being in a feeder primary school, with an assured place in the secondary school. Most times, a student who is in his ﬁnal year would like to feel that either he/she is in the best place he can think of, or that his horizons are more open than not. Nothing is a greater dampener to motivation than the sense that you are stuck in a rut or that your route is already marked out for you. If you can get into a 16 year-old’s head, you will very quickly realize that there is nothing worse than to feel that one has a pre-determined path. What may seem like a sound decision to secure a place in a pre-university programme may come at a heavy psychological price for your child. Remember the old saying about the grass on the other side being greener?When forced to walk a preassigned path, one would be inclined to think of all the other choices that could have been made instead.
4. BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW THAN THE ONE YOU DON'T
Don’t choose a school that is single-gender simply to protect your child from the attentions of the other sex. In this age of Facebook and other social media, I would say “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. There are distinct merits in the co-education model, especially for girls who lack conﬁdence in themselves. Girls in co-ed schools will learn very early that the guy they consider “cute” has body odour after PE, and the boys will come to realise that the girl they admire at a distance could be a real gossip. The boys may get together with the girls but the friendships made will be a better reﬂection of the real world. Stretch out the learning curve for your child so that they will not be unfamiliar with the distractions of the opposite sex at the age of 17 when they enter a junior college or polytechnic. Imagine what a student who has been ten years in single-gender schools will have to cope with in his/her ﬁrst entry to a junior college!
5. DISTANCE IS THE LEAST IMPORTANT CRITERIA
Don’t choose a school solely on account of it being near your home. In point of fact, I will argue that a school that is too close to home may be a bad idea. I doubt if there has been any President Scholar who can claim that one of the key reasons he/she did well was related to his school proximity to home. Proximity engenders laziness, and your home may also become an unwelcome meeting point for layabouts, especially if it is conveniently devoid of adult supervision during the day.