Primary 1 registration for all international students in Singapore starts next week. All non-PR foreigners must complete an online indication of interest, which will only be live for one week from May 31 to June 6, 2022.
Children born between January 2, 2016 and January 1, 2017 can register for admission to Primary 1 at one of Singapore’s government-run schools; the new academic year runs from January to December 2023.
There is strong competition for places and priority is given to Singaporean citizens and those with Permanent Resident (PR) status. Primary 1 applications from foreigners are in the last phase of the annual registration exercise, Phase 3, after Singaporeans and PRs have secured their places in Phases 1 and 2.
International students must first submit an online ‘indication of interest’ form via the MOE P1 website. If you do not do this by June 6, 2022, you will not be able to register during Phase 3 of the P1 Registration Exercise. The submission of the online indication of interest is not first-come-first-served.
The MOE said: "MOE will notify IS applicants who have indicated their interest via email in October 2022, on whether their child can be offered a P1 place in a primary school. If a place is offered, the parent of the child will be informed of how to register with the designated school."
International students who want to apply for a primary school place will now have to take a Cambridge English Qualification (CEQ) test, in place of the English language test that was previously run by the Ministry of Education (MOE).
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 1 Registration Exercise.
Read more: How to apply for a local school place
International students who are applying for Primary 2 to 5 and Secondary 1 to 3 levels must take part in the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS), which is held every February and September.
Primary 1 registration for next year will open on June 29 for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents. Phase 1 (for children whose siblings are current pupils of the school) starts at 9am on Wednesday, June 29 and ends at 4.30pm on Thursday, June 30.
Phase 2A, (for children whose parents are members of the alumni association; or families who are members of the school advisory or management committee) starts at 9am on Wednesday, July 6, and ends on 4.30pm on Friday, July 8.
Phase 2B (for children whose parents have volunteered in schools, have affiliations to churches or clan associations linked to the schools, or are active community leaders) opens at 9am on Tuesday, July 19, and ends at 4.30pm on Wednesday, July 20. Singaporean families with no links to the school can register in Phase 2C, which opens at 9am on Wednesday, July 27, and ends at 4.30pm on Friday, July 29.
Similar to last year, for registration for Phases 1, 2A and 2B, parents will need to complete an online application form to register their child using their SingPass.
There are several reasons why international families prefer to attend a local rather than an international school. Annual fees for expats range from $8,000-15,000, which is at least half that charged by most 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 Balestier Hill Primary, Bukit Panjang Primary, Bukit Timah Primary, Opera Estate Primary and Tanjong Katong Primary.