Parliamentary Replies

September 04, 2020

Sufficiency of primary school places

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Murali Pillai, Bukit Batok

Question

To ask the Minister for Education in light of the fact that 226 children were vying for 38 Primary 1 places in Princess Elizabeth Primary School during Phase 2C of the admission exercise, whether an additional primary school can be built within Bukit Batok HDB Town to cope with the increased demand for Primary 1 places.


Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim, Sengkang GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) for each of the past five years, what are the statistics on the over-subscription of Primary One spaces in Sengkang primary schools and for the nation as a whole; (b) whether there is spare capacity in terms of classrooms for Primary One level in Sengkang primary schools compared to the nation as a whole; (c) what is the student-teacher ratio of primary schools for Primary One in Sengkang relative to the average for the nation as a whole; and (d) what are the factors considered in setting the number of Primary One spaces for schools in Sengkang, and Singapore as a whole.


Response

1. MOE’s school planning objective is to ensure there are sufficient school places and school resourcing to support all Singaporean school-going children, at both the national and regional-levels. We annually review to ensure that the number of Primary 1 places across the country and in each residential area are sufficient for the current and projected population. We also take into account planned future housing developments in each residential area, with the objective of ensuring that every eligible Singaporean and Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) child has access to a place in a primary school reasonably near to their home. Generally, around 98% of Singaporean and Singapore PR children are able to obtain a place in a primary school of their choice, or a primary school within 2km of their residence. The proportion remains similar in this year’s exercise. Even after Phase 2C (Supplementary), we will still have vacancies to facilitate all remaining children into a school generally not too far from their home.

2. In Bukit Batok and Sengkang, for example, there have been new housing developments, some recently completed while others are in different stages of construction, to be completed over the next few years. MOE carefully reviews the demand and supply situation in these areas not just for the coming year but also project this for the next several years. This is to enable us to make timely plans to build new schools should there be a sustained increase in demand over the medium to long-term, or consider making year-by-year intake adjustments for some of the schools in these areas to meet the projected demand.

3. In Bukit Batok, there are six primary schools, and as a whole, there are sufficient primary school places in the area. There are two schools with about 150 remaining vacancies at the end of Phase 2C (Supplementary) in this year’s P1 Registration Exercise. This represents around 12% of total planned P1 places in Bukit Batok. For parents who could not register their children in the popular Princess Elizabeth Primary School, they can consider other nearby schools which still have vacancies.

4. To Mr Murali Pillai’s question on whether an additional primary school would be built to cope with the increase in demand for Primary 1 places in Bukit Batok HDB town, MOE is indeed carefully studying this as part of the development plans of the nearby Tengah New Town. I would like to assure the Member that we will make timely plans for any new school based on medium to long-term demand projections.

5. For Sengkang, there are 12 primary schools, with three schools having around a total of 120 remaining vacancies at the end of Phase 2C (Supplementary) in this year’s exercise. This represents about 4% of total planned P1 places in Sengkang.

6. For growing areas like Sengkang and Bukit Batok, the primary schools may be fuller to provide as many places as possible to children living nearby. This is unlike more mature areas where there are fewer children to fill the schools. Nonetheless, even in Sengkang, each school has about two spare classrooms in this year’s P1 Registration Exercise. These classrooms could be used by schools to conduct small group lessons to support students’ learning.

7. Currently, the national pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) at the Primary level is about 15. The average PTR for primary schools in Sengkang is 16. We resource our schools based on their student profile and the programmes they run. Special attention is paid to deploy additional teachers to schools with more students with learning needs so these students can be supported through targeted interventions. Hence, PTRs will differ across schools given our needs-based resourcing approach.