Step-By-Step Guide To P1 Registration In Singapore – Balloting FAQs, Important Dates & Tips From Parents

Guide to Primary 1 registration Singapore

If there’s anything more high-anxiety than trying to get the perfect BTO in Singapore, it might very well be getting your little prince/princess into a primary school of your choice in Singapore. Getting your kid into any school is easy but getting them into your dream school can be a complex affair – especially if you’re doing it for the first time.

Here’s a complete guide to help you navigate through the maze that is Primary 1 registration, without any hair pulling and unwanted surprises.

P.S. P1 registration for 2024 started on 4th July 2023 for kids born in 2017. 

Must-knows about P1 registration

Nanhua Primary School.
Image credit: Xinran

You’ve probably heard of this by now, but in case anyone has been “living under a rock”,  it’s compulsory for all Singapore Citizens to enrol their child in primary school unless you’ve been granted an exemption or deferment. 

P1 registration is also open to PRs and international students, but it isn’t mandatory for them.

More often than not, there are more applicants than slots for coveted schools. Just like applying for a BTO, the allocation isn’t first-come-first-served and things instead run on a balloting system – more details on this below.

When do I start registering my child for primary school?

Park View Primary.
Image credit: Gerard via Foursquare

Primary school education starts the year the child turns 7, but applications begin half a year before. You can start registering the year your child turns 6. If your child is born on 1st January you can also register them with the previous batch.

So, if your child was born in 2017 or on 1st January 2018, they can register this year to enter primary school in 2024. 

Yes, calculating this requires some mental gymnastics. To be extra sure, key in the date of birth of your child into the eligibility checker on MOE’s website to know when to register. 

Registration typically opens around the middle of the year – the exact date you start applying depends on which phase you qualify for. 

How do I register my child for Primary 1?

In the “old days”, our parents had to queue up at their school of choice to register us kiddos. Fortunately, applications have become much easier since then.

After 2020, P1 registration became a fully online process. Now, all you need to do is pop out your laptop and log into the P1 registration portal with your Singpass account. Only one parent is required to register.

The registration process is split into 5 main phases – 1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2C Supplementary. At each phase, you can only apply for 1 school. The application window for each phase also lasts less than 2 days so don’t leave the decision making to the final hour.

If you are enrolling your first child and have no affiliation with any of the primary schools, you can wait to apply from Phase 2C onwards.  

Phase 1 – A child who has a sibling studying in the same school

Phase 1 is extremely straightforward – if you have an older child who is already studying in the same school, your next child will be guaranteed a slot in Phase 1. 

2023 registration: 4th July 2023, 9am – 5th July 2023, 4.30pm
Result: 11th July 2023 (Closed)

Phase 2A – Affiliated family members

Phase 2 is where it gets slightly more complex. There have been some changes to Phase 2 in recent years, with Phases 2A(1) and 2A(2) merged into what’s now Phase 2A. If you check off the following, congratulations, you are eligible for Phase 2A.

  • Are a former student of the school
  • Are a member of the School Advisory or Management Committee
  • Are an existing staff member of the school
  • Have a child that’s in an MOE kindergarten under the purview of the primary school

2023 registration: 12th July 2023, 9am – 1th July 2023, 4.30pm
Result: 21st July 2023 (Closed)

Phase 2B – For a child with endorsed family members or parent volunteers

To be or not to be? 2B is to be if you are a/an:

  • Community leader with a letter from People’s Association
  • Church or clan member that has direct connections with the school
  • Parent volunteer at the school

2023 registration: 24th July 2023, 9am – 25th July 2023, 4.50pm
Results: 31st July 2023 (Closed)

Phase 2C – For those without ties to the school

You’re a 2C applicant if you’re applying for your first child and have no connections with the school. Some parents choose to volunteer with their preferred school to be eligible for the earlier phases.

2023 registration: 1st August 2023, 9am – 3rd August 2023, 4.30pm
Results: 15th August 2023

Phase 2C Supplementary – Final round of application

For Singaporeans and PRs, Phase 2C is the final round of application, and your last shot at getting into your school of choice. Those who’ve been unsuccessful will automatically be posted to a suitable school with an available vacancy by MOE.

2023 registration: 17th August 2023, 9am – 18th August 2023, 4.30pm
Results: 29th August 2023

Phase 3 – Only for non-Singaporeans and non-PRs

Despite the name, Phase 3 doesn’t take place after the other application rounds and is for international students only. Interestingly enough, it starts earlier, with applications opening before Phase 1 begins.

2023 registration: 30th May 2023, 9am – 5th June 2023, 4.30pm
Results: October 2023

What is balloting & how does it work?

Nanyang Primary School.
Image credit: Wise & New Life 

Not everyone can get their kid into a school of their choice. Popular schools typically have more applicants than vacancies but you can maximise your chances if you know how the balloting system works. Priority admission is allocated in the following order during the balloting process:

  1. Singapore Citizens living <1km of the school
  2. Singapore Citizens living between 1km-2km from the school
  3. Singapore Citizens living >2km of the school
  4. Permanent Residents living <1km of the school
  5. Permanent Residents living between 1km-2km of the school
  6. Permanent Residents living >2km of the school

You can find out which schools are within 2km of your address on the MOE website

How many vacancies are there in each application phase?

Image credit: HDB InfoWEB

Even if you don’t qualify for an earlier phase, you won’t be left on the lurch. There’s a system in place to ensure that the vacancies are fairly spread out across the various phases. No one likes maths but bear with me. After Phase 2A is over, the remaining slots are split up as such:

Phase 2B is guaranteed to have at least 20 slots + 1/3 of the remaining slots. Meanwhile Phase 2C is guaranteed 40 slots + 2/3 of the remaining seats. 

What documents to prepare for Primary 1 enrollment?

To apply, you’ll need to have the following documents and details on hand:

  • Child’s full name
  • Child’s birth certificate number
  • Child’s date of birth
  • Address used for registration

Additional documents may be required if you’ve just moved into a new property, or are divorced or separated. You may also be asked to present extra paperwork if you’re applying under phase 2 to show proof of affiliation or connection to the school. Be sure to prepare these ahead of time to avoid having to fumble through your storeroom at the last minute.

What to consider when choosing a school for your child?

Ukulele lessons.
Image credit: Valor Primary

Apart from travel time and school reputation, there are some other smaller but nevertheless important factors to consider before making your selection. 

Take a look at the list of the extracurricular activities offered by the school to see if it aligns with your child’s interests. Some schools offer unique CCAs like ceramics, cheerleading, and even game strategy. You can also view which schools offer your preferred mother tongue language classes on MOE’s school finder.

If your child has special education needs, you can consider enrolling them into an SPED school.

Receiving your results

Raffles Girls Primary School.
Image adapted from: SD Architects

You’ll be notified on whether you’ve gotten a placement via SMS and thereafter, it’s a matter of submitting miscellaneous forms like immunisation records and receiving emails about what to do to prepare for the first day of school. 

There’ll be an orientation day for each school, during which you can expect to settle everything from school bus arrangements to purchase of school supplies like uniforms and textbooks. The school year will start on the Monday of the first week of January.

P1 application tips from other parents

Doing something for the first time is always intimidating but we’ve got you covered with some tips from other Singaporean parents who have gone through the whole process:

  1. Don’t forget to look at balloting data from previous years. Sometimes, it’s better to go for a school that your child has a better chance at entering, rather than the school that’s in the highest demand. You can see if a school has a history of being oversubscribed on MOE’s website.
  2. The most important thing to do is get your first child through the door. Some parents volunteer at the school, while others choose to move houses to get priority admission to increase their chances – however, do remember that slots are never guaranteed. After your first child is through, your next child’s admission into the school is secured.
  3. Go for a few primary school open houses to get a better sense of each school’s culture. Also speak to the students and parent volunteers during your visit as they may be able to share unofficial tips that can help with decision-making.

Everything about P1 registration in Singapore

With lots of parents going the extra mile – or extra light years, in some cases – to secure the dream school for their child, you can best believe P1 registration is a competitive sport in its own right. Whether you choose to go ‘lax or all out on primary school application, it’s always best to go in well informed. 

Now that you’ve got everything you need to know, it’s time to start looking at the next to-dos including getting back-to-school supplies and deciding on how much pocket money your child needs. 

More brainy things for kids:

Cover image adapted from: Wise & New Life, Xinran, Valor Primary, HDB InfoWEB
Originally published on 28th May 2023. Last updated on 11th August 2023.

Kezia Tan

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