Children born between January 2, 2013 and January 1, 2014 can register for admission to Primary One at one of Singapore’s government-run schools; the academic year runs from January to December 2020.
There is strong competition for places and priority is given to Singaporean citizens and those with Permanent Resident (PR) status. Primary One applications from foreigners are in the last phase of the annual registration exercise, Phase 3, after Singaporeans and PRs have secured their places.
Phases 1 and 2A, which open for registration on July 9, are for children whose siblings are current pupils of the school; children whose parents are members of the alumni association; or families who are members of the school advisory or management committee.
Phase 2B, which starts on July 22, is for children whose parents have volunteered in schools, have affiliations to churches or clan associations linked to the schools, or are active community leaders.
Singaporean families with no links to the school can register in Phase 2C, starting on July 30.
International students can register for a place in the final Phase 3. First, they need to submit an online ‘indication of interest’ form via the MOE P1 website, from June 4-10 2019. Then, if notified in October 2019 by the MOE that they can be offered a P1 place in a school, international applicants must register in person at the designated schools in late October 2019.
Read here: How to apply for a local school place
The MOE receives around 3,500 applications from foreigners annually. According to MOE statistics, around 1,800 applications from international students to enter a local school were rejected in the 2016 Primary One Registration Exercise.
There are several reasons why international families prefer to attend a local rather than an international school. Annual fees for expats range from $7,800-13,200 (for 2018-19), which is at least half that charged by international schools. As well as being considerably cheaper, local schools will immerse your child in the local culture, offer a world-class curriculum with an excellent reputation for maths and science, and a strong focus on learning Mandarin.
Read more: Local vs international schools in Singapore
The most popular local schools for expats (and where you’re most likely to receive a place) include Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS),Balestier Hill Primary School (BHPS),Opera Estate Primary School (OEPS) and Bukit Panjang Primary School (BPPS).