Top tips for getting your child into popular primary schools

7 min read

As we are currently in the thick of the Primary 1 registration season that happens every year at the end of June, parents with children entering primary school next year are starting to feel the heat. A hot topic of conversation often revolves around debating which the best and most popular primary schools are.

Singaporean parents are probably the only people we know who take a few months (or even an entire year) off work to coach their children during the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) year.

Getting one’s child into the best local primary schools is not as simple as queuing overnight at an Apple store’s launch of a new product – the first in through the door does not necessarily translate to a place in the school.

These days, getting a place in popular primary schools is like winning the lottery – literally – as parents and their child either jump with joy or break down in tears after a balloting exercise.

While the Ministry of Education (MOE) reserves 40 places in each school for children who are not the offspring of an alumni of the school etc., these precious places are usually fewer than the number of children applying to be enrolled.

One very important factor to bear in mind in order to get ahead in this race is where you live.

primary school kid in classroom

Why does it matter where I live?

When a school is “oversubscribed” i.e. there are more applicants than places in the school, balloting will be conducted in any of the phases from Phase 2A onwards.

Living within 1 to 2 km of the school will give your child a higher chance of being admitted. Here’s how priority admission is given:

  1. Singapore Citizens (SC) living within 1km of the school.
  2. SCs living between 1km and 2km of the school.
  3. SCs living outside 2km of the school.
  4. Permanent Residents (PR) living within 1km of the school.
  5. PRs living between 1km and 2km of the school.
  6. PRs living outside 2km of the school.

Tenants who live within 1 to 2 km of the school can also use the address to register their child. For tenants, before you rent the property, it is important to inform the landlord that you intend to use the address for the application to the school.

You want to avoid a situation where the landlord is also using the same address as you to apply for places at a school for their child.

If there are not enough vacancies, balloting will be conducted. For further clarification, check out MOE’s website where they lay out different balloting scenarios.

I purchased a flat but haven’t moved in yet

Parents who bought a completed property which sale has not yet finalised, or a property which is still under construction (within the 1 to 2 km radius of the school) can still apply to register their child using the new home address.

You need to email the following documents to the school to prove that you’ve committed to the property purchase:

  • Purchased a new HDB flat? Submit a copy of the Agreement For Lease (AFL) which can be downloaded from My HDBPage or the resale flat status that indicates that HDB has received your application to buy a resale flat.
  • Purchased a resale HDB flat? Submit a copy of the resale flat status that indicates that HDB has received your application to buy a resale flat.
  • Purchased a new private property? Submit a copy of the Sales and Purchase agreement.
  • Purchased a resale private property? Submit a copy of the exercised Option-To-Purchase (OTP) and buyer’s Stamp Duty Certificate.

The school will also email you a Letter of Undertaking (LOU), which basically means you guarantee to move into your new property within 2 years of your child’s entry into P1. Make sure you digitally sign the LOU and submit it to the school within the registration phase date and time.

The 30 months’ stay requirement

If your child gains priority admission into a school under the home-school distance category, they are required to live at the address used for registration for at least 30 months, starting from the very first day of the P1 Registration Exercise.

The MOE can transfer your child out of the school if this condition is not met or if the address used is false.

There are past cases where parents either lied about their address and falsified it to one near a popular school when they were in actual fact, not living at that address, and ended up being charged with a criminal offence when found out.

Worst of all, their children were transferred out of the school, so they went through all that trouble for nothing.

During the 30 months, do not move! If you’re a tenant, you should ensure that your lease covers at least the entire 30 months period in order not to jeopardise your child’s place in the school.

Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

primary school children

99.co’s unique search feature helps you find properties near popular primary schools

99.co’s website has a unique feature which makes it easy for you to filter for properties near the school of your choice.

  1. Go to 99.co.
  2. Click on “Search for a condo, neighbourhood or address”
  3. Select “Choose Schools”
  4. Specify the “Distance from School” (eg. 1 km or 2 km)
  5. Tick off the school(s) of your choice
  6. Hit “Search”

A list of properties for sale and rent near the school of your choice and specified distance will appear

After selecting the desired property to buy or rent on 99.co, you may wish to double-check it on MOE’s Primary School Admission website.

99.co lets you search for properties within 1km of primary schools.
You can select various schools and narrow down your property selection.

Which are some of the most popular primary schools?

The popular primary schools can be divided into three categories: girls’ schools, boys’ schools and co-ed schools. While not exhaustive, this table sets out the more popular primary schools:

Name of SchoolType of SchoolArea
Ai Tong School Co-edBishan
Anglo Chinese School (Primary)BoyBukit Timah
Anglo Chinese School (Junior) BoyNewton
Catholic High School (Primary)BoyBishan
CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' SchoolGirlAng Mo Kio
Chongfu Primary SchoolCo-edYishun
Henry Park Primary SchoolCo-edHolland
Maris Stella High School (Primary)BoyBartley
Methodist Girls' School (Primary) GirlBukit Timah
Nan Hua Primary School Co-edFaber Garden
Nanyang Primary SchoolCo-edBukit Timah
Pei Chun Public School Co-edToa Payoh
Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary SchoolCo-edToh Tuck
Radin Mas Primary SchoolCo-edBukit Purmei
Raffles Girls' Primary SchoolGirl Bukit Timah
Rosyth SchoolCo-edSerangoon
Rulang Primary SchoolCo-edJurong West
Singapore Chinese Girls' Primary SchoolGirlBukit Timah
St Hilda's Primary School Co-edTampines
St Joseph's Institution (Primary)BoyNovena
Tao Nan Primary SchoolCo-edMarine Parade

Tips for picking the property near the school(s) 

father with children

Many parents go as far as to buy or rent condos in the area between Stevens Road and Balmoral Road (e.g at Ewe Boon Road, Keng Chin Road, Robin Road etc) as this area is within 1 km of both Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) and Singapore Chinese Girls’ Primary School.

This way, they qualify for the “within 1 km” rule both for their son(s) and their daughter(s).

Another way is to pick a co-ed school so your daughter(s) and son(s) can go to the same school – this sure makes picking them up after school a lot simpler and requires less logistics. Check out our top 5 property recommendations next to prestigious schools.

Planning ahead

We recommend that you plan ahead. Many parents buy or rent a property within 1 or 2 km from the school of their choice well before their child is required to register for Primary One. This makes it less stressful than leaving it to the last minute to find such a property when others may have the same idea.

As we are all aware, a good property takes some time to find – numerous weekends and visits are required before settling on one you like. However, do note that if the school you choose is very popular, there may be many children like yours who live within 1 or 2 km of the school and you may still end up having to ballot for a place for your child.

Leaving it up to Lady Luck might be traumatising not only for parents but also for the child. So, it pays to do some homework and choose wisely.


Is your child enrolling in primary school this year? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so sound off in the comments below.

If you found the information here useful, check out our previous articles on Finding the right school and recommendations on which properties are nearby; and what are the Differences between the schools in terms of curriculum and affiliation.

Looking to sell your property?

Whether your HDB apartment is reaching the end of its Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) or your condo has crossed its Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) window, it is always good to know how much you can potentially gain if you were to list and sell your property. Not only that, you’ll also need to know whether your gains would allow you to right-size to the dream home in the neighbourhood you and your family have been eyeing.

One easy way is to send us a request for a credible and trusted property consultant to reach out to you.

Alternatively, you can jump onto 99.co’s Property Value Tool to get an estimate for free.

If you’re looking for your dream home, be it as a first-time or seasoned homebuyer or seller – say, to upgrade or right-size – you will find it on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal 99.co.

Meanwhile, if you have an interesting property-related story to share with us, drop us a message here — and we’ll review it and get back to you.

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