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Choosing between Elite Schools vs. Neighbourhood schools in Singapore

Singaporean students have access to one of the best education systems in the entire world. Unlike the majority of other schools around the globe, the Singaporean school system is focused on getting results.

Before we start comparing the neighborhood schools with the so-called elite schools, let's have a look at the education system in general.

State education in Singapore consists of various stages. These are: preschool education, primary education, secondary education, post-secondary education, pre-university education, and, last but not least, education at the university of your choice.

In addition, English is the language of instruction in all Singaporean schools. And students need to successfully pass the primary school leaving examination [PSLE] to be allowed to proceed to the secondary school level.


Education system in Singapore

The educational standards in Singapore are controlled by the Ministry of Education, whereas preschool education is provided by the private sector. Though, private preschools need to be registered and officially acknowledged by the Ministry of Education before they can start providing their services.

For those parents who don't like the state or private options, there is homeschooling. Parents who want to homeschool their children need to submit a special application to the MOE, which subsequently sets the guidelines to help parents homeschool their children.

Parents don't need to do all the homeschooling themselves; they can hire a private tutor or multiple private tutors to ensure high quality of education.

Choosing the right school for your child is once in a lifetime decision that can significantly affect the child later in life, so parents need to be wise when making their choice.

In this article, we will be comparing elite schools and neighborhood schools in Singapore to help you determine which one is the most suitable for your child.

The majority of Singaporeans believe that elite school graduates achieve more than those who graduated from neighborhood schools. And it is true that those who attend these types of schools tend to have excellent academic results, and the education provided in those schools is overall of excellent quality.

By comparison, neighborhood schools in Singapore are believed to provide a relatively lower standard of education, but is that really so?


Key differences between elite schools and neighborhood schools in Singapore.

The first major difference is the number of co-curricular activities students are involved in. In elite schools, children are engaged in various activities that help them build necessary soft skills (such as teamwork, leadership, and communication skills.)

These skills contribute to your child's success later in life. However, your child doesn't need to attend a prestigious elite school to participate in team-building activities. All they have to do is to get together with some of their friends and play sports or do an art project, for example.

Also, the Ministry of Education is working hard to introduce various programs to state schools to ensure that they catch up to prestigious elite schools.

The second difference between these two types of schools has to do with building networks and connections.

Many parents firmly believe that the friendships their children acquire during their time at elite schools will be vastly beneficial to them in the future. It goes without saying that the type of people you hang out with can affect your decisions and lifestyle a lot, so it is not surprising that parents want their children to spend as much time as possible with high-achieving, ambitious students from reputable backgrounds.

On the other hand, neighborhood schools attract students from various backgrounds and usually from nearby areas. But this doesn't make them inferior at all.

In fact, we have a good post on this issue- Do friends influence your child's results? How to manage it?

In fact, many parents believe that attending a local neighborhood school is good for teaching children humility and how to interact with representatives of different social backgrounds and cultures.

The third difference we will focus on is the difference in teaching methodology.

Elite schools have the ability to attract the best teachers who will not only teach children the academic subjects but will also develop their critical thinking skills and teach them how to think outside the box.

Teachers in these schools are constantly trying to come up with innovative ways to impart knowledge to their students, so the instruction methodology in elite schools is never stale and out of date.

But, the educators at your local neighborhood school can be equally competent and passionate about what they do. In fact, in the past, teachers from such schools have won numerous awards for coming up with innovative teaching methods. Those pioneering methods have helped numerous underachieving students catch up with their peers and excel in their studies.

Another important criterium that might help you make a decision is how well the school develops a sense of identity.


So how do elite schools in neighborhood schools fare in this regard?

Elite schools typically have a long and impressive history under their belt, and they create a unique culture their students can identify with. This is why many parents who have attended a particular elite school usually enroll their children in the same school. They want their children to experience the same type of community spirit they experienced during their childhood years.

The sense of identity and belonging the school creates is rather strong and can linger until the rest of their lives. Although many neighborhood schools are not as unique as elite schools, students who attend them can still be emotionally connected to their school, especially if they have gained valuable friendships during their time at school.

Read also: How to get into a popular school via DSA


So how can a parent decide which school is the most suitable for their child?

Here are some points you should take into consideration when deciding which school is better suited for your child's needs.

How do you view accomplishment?

Do accomplishments to you simply equate with getting high marks at school, or do you think that an accomplished person should be a person of admirable character?

Do you have any specific academic goals set for your child you would like them to achieve?

What is your child's personality like?

Are they competitive?

Do they want to achieve everything by themselves, or are they better off working within a group?

In the end, both types of schools can offer a decent standard of education, so which one you choose is entirely up to you.


Related articles:
Secondary School Rankings: How to choose a Secondary school

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About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.