Monday, 19 November 2012

Leaving Primary School

The following letter was sent to Straits Times Forum on 5th November 2012, one of the many letters that have not been published. I have been too busy to put this up on the blog and so have not made any further comments.

Please feel free to do so:


Our son is transferring to senior school in September. The system in the UK independent sector is rather complex: offers are made based on a permutation of 13+ Common Entrance Examination (CEE), interviews, school reports, individual school entrance exams, scholarship exams, etc.

The most important advice we have been given is:

  • Our son must be happy in order to thrive at senior school, so shop around.
  • If your son requires tuition to pass the specific school entrance exam, then it is not the right school for him.

Boys from his school have won scholarships to senior schools based on their athletic skills, or talent in art, drama and music. However, everyone still sits the CEE and the results are used by the senior schools to customize teaching.

There is no shame in going to a ‘less academic’ school because the minimum academic standard is still there.

Entrance to state schools is different. Grammar schools still require excellent 11+ exam results. However, grammars are finding that pupils that have been coached to pass exams struggle to keep up*.

Other schools are required by law to be non-selective and offer places on the basis of distance from schools. When performing well in exams is not a passport to a ‘good’ school – as only the rich kids can afford to live near such schools – children lose incentive and then self-esteem, leading to a race to the bottom.

It is sad that parents (and children) think that Singapore only has a place for those proven to be academically gifted by the time one is 12.

Singapore must find a balance. Precisely because we are a small country we must nurture the natural talent of every child and educate each to the appropriate level to make each a contributing citizen.

In addition, society (you and I) must respect, appreciate and reward justly the part played by “we, the citizens” and every net contributor, not just the educated and well-heeled.

How miserable would life be if we do not have safe bus and train drivers, knowledgeable and polite sales/service staff, efficient and hygienic hospital cleaners and porters, keen-eyed and dextrous factory workers, etc?

Those who have risen to the top courtesy of a meritocracy now have the moral responsibility to ensure that the best and brightest of each cohort, from whatever background, also have the opportunity to do the same.


Bright children failed by a 'cult of the average', CBI warn

Private schools are demonised in Britain but are the envy of the world

* Grammar school tests to be made 'tutor-proof'

No comments: