Taking in transfer pupils whose PSLE scores do not meet their cut-off points

Published Date: 14 March 2016 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Sembawang GRC


To ask the Acting Minister for Education (Schools) (a) why are secondary schools directed not to take in transfer pupils whose PSLE scores do not meet their cut-off points; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider allowing schools with vacancies to effect these transfers on a case-by-case basis if the point difference is not significant.


I thank the member for his question. The rules for school admissions and transfers must be transparent and objective, in order to be fair to all students. 

In fact, we had received feedback in past years from some parents who were unhappy that our transfer process was not sufficiently fair and transparent. Some have also pointed out that the transfer process could be improved.    

Our schools receive transfer appeals for a wide range of reasons, including good performance in CCAs, past connections to the school or proximity of home to the school. Many of these appeals are from students who had applied for the school in the Secondary One Posting Exercise but did not manage to get a place because they did not meet the cut-off-point of the school. 

These appeals are understandable. However, unless there are special circumstances, allowing students who had not met the cut-off-point to transfer schools would mean that CCA, connections, or proximity to the school will take precedence over the PSLE T-score.    This will not be entirely fair or transparent to the many students who have a similar or even higher PSLE T-score, but had not been admitted in the Secondary One Posting Exercise. 

MOE reviewed the feedback, and decided that it would be better overall to run a simpler system where only appeals by students who met the cut-off-points would be considered. The Principal can then consider all such qualified appeals and make an appropriate decision after considering other relevant factors. This new guideline for transfers after the Secondary One Posting Exercise is to ensure and assure parents and students that the system for appeals and transfers is transparent, objective and fair to all students.

Our overall system remains flexible. With the change in the transfer guidelines, over 800 students appealed successfully and obtained a school transfer this year according to their school preferences. Most met the school’s cut-off-point, while some did not, as their appeals were on the basis of medical, special needs or exceptional circumstances. 

MOE appreciates the need for an appeals system, to help our students and their families cope with unforeseen circumstances. We will continue to exercise flexibility for appeals while maintaining a fair and transparent system.  

Ultimately, any appeals system will rest on the good judgement of experienced professionals, especially our school Principals. MOE is committed to supporting holistic education and providing our students with multiple pathways and opportunities to pursue an education best suited to their needs and strengths. We will continue to carefully study how we can evolve and enhance our school admissions and transfers processes to support these goals, while remaining consistent with our key principles of meritocracy, fairness and transparency.


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