Direct School Admission exercise for secondary schools

Published Date: 05 October 2020 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Darryl David, Ang Mo Kio GRC


To ask the Minister for Education how has COVID-19 affected the 2020 Direct School Admission (DSA) exercise for secondary schools especially in the absence of school sports or other such events and activities that would have ordinarily facilitated DSA applicants to use objective and quantitative criteria in their DSA applications.


1. In spite of the COVID-19 situation, there continues to be healthy interest in the Direct School Admission for secondary schools (DSA-Sec) this year -– with about 30,500 applications, an increase from the 29,000 received in 2019.

2. Schools have recently concluded DSA selections which were conducted via electronic modes. This ensured the safety and well-being of students and school staff by preventing the intermingling of students across schools.

3. A common setting and standardised set of equipment at students' own primary schools was used for the video-conferencing sessions. This was to ensure that all students would be given a fair assessment, regardless of their backgrounds.

4. With the cancellation of the National School Games and other events due to COVID-19, indicators such as recent race timings, standings and awards were not available. Nevertheless, schools were able to make use of other sources of information, including students' school records, information provided in their online applications as well as from video-conferencing sessions with the students. These sessions included e-interviews or tasks that enabled students to demonstrate their attributes and potential in particular areas. For example, some students were asked to imitate melodies and rhythms of varying complexity, reproduce a dance sequence, perform ball-handling and different movement skills, or create pencil sketches.

5. With the above adjustments, schools were able to take a holistic approach to DSA selection, taking into account not only the student's achievements and performance, but also their interest and passion for the talent area, their potential and personal qualities. As in previous years, schools formed selection panels to collectively evaluate each DSA applicant and to ensure objectivity and balance. The selection panels tapped on their experience in talent identification and exercise professional judgement to evaluate and select students who can most benefit from their development programmes. Through all of these measures, we were able to facilitate the smooth implementation of DSA this year, even amidst the COVID-19 situation.

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