Mixed sentiments on MOE's new PSLE transfer directive
Education professionals and parents weigh in on secondary schools being told not to accept transfer pupils whose PSLE scores are below cut-off during transfer season.
The decision struck SIM Global Education's academic director Timothy Chan as one of pragmatism.
"The period between announcement of posting results and the start of the academic year is very short.
"Therefore, it is practically impossible to handle large numbers of appeal cases for re-posting..." he said.
The ministry's directive comes in the face of declining enrolment and the impending danger of having to close down or merge schools, said National Institute of Education (NIE) Associate Professor Jason Tan.
Just last month, MOE announced that seven secondary schools do not have any Secondary 1 cohorts.
Prof Tan said: "We see market forces at work here, students and parents opting for what they perceive to be better or more popular schools.
"You can see the generally unequal direction of flow. Most of the time, the flow is in the direction of more popular schools.
"But of course, the sad part is that these forces are often favouring the more established schools.
"If you allow this phenomenon to continue, less popular schools have the perennial problem of restoring morale and trying to prevent closure or merger."
Forcibly placing a child in a school where he may have to play catch-up may be detrimental in the long run, said Mr William Toh, the Kiasuparents forum founder and father of two.
"The child will spend most of his secondary school life either doing average or below average. In a country of Einsteins, how then do you shine in this case?" Mr Toh, 50, said.
WHAT ABOUT LATE BLOOMERS?
Housewife Lilian Tan, 40, however, felt that cutting off the appeal option is unfair to children who may be late bloomers.
"A child's growth and progress is not static. Even if he misses the cut-off point by just one point, he can blossom into something more with the right guidance from teachers," she said.
NOT BLACK OR WHITE
Former MOE teacher Darrell Tansaid it may be too harsh for the ministry to say there should not be any appeal option for pupils whose PSLE scores do not meet the cut-off points.
The academic director of learning centre Between the Lines sees the practical side of the decision, but he feels there is no "black or white" to a student's development.
In his time as an English language and literature teacher, Mr Tan, 31, said he has seen appeal students who enter secondary school and struggle academically.
"But it is not to say it is always the case. There are individuals who come out doing well academically. There is no fixed way as to how these things turn out.
"Sometimes, it is down to how driven the children are, or how the teachers inspire and motivate their students.
"Some of these students who were given a second chance really cherish it," he said.
NIE's Prof Tan suggested for parents to observe their children's performance in their posted schools.
There is the choice of opting for an inter-school transfer along the way if the child performs well at the end of Sec 1, he said.
"It is not as though you have only one chance at the beginning of Sec 1, there is still that option open."
Level playing field for all
Secondary schools have been told not to accept transfer pupils whose Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scores are lower than the cut-off points during the transfer season.
This is reportedly under the Ministry of Education's (MOE) new directive to schools last November, The Straits Times reported.
In the past, schools with vacancies after the Secondary 1 posting exercise could accept pupils with lower scores who appeal.
An MOE spokesman explained that students are posted to schools based on "objective and transparent measures of academic merit" and appeals afterwards "should be aligned to these same principles, to be fair to the other students".