FAQs on the Singapore Primary School Education

When do kids start primary school?

In Singapore, children aged 6 or 7 begin their six-year journey in primary schools. They enter primary 1 and advance to primary 6 which culminates with the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). You can check if your child can register for Primary 1 here.

What does a typical school year look like?

The school year begins in January and ends in December but there are ample holidays in-between. 

There are two semesters each academic year with two terms in each semester. Each school term is about 10 weeks long so your kids are effectively in school 40 weeks out of 52 weeks. 

You can access the exact dates for 2021 from this MOE website.

What happens during the school holidays?

This is a good question that parents have to grapple with every term break. 

The March and September holidays are only a week long so students and teachers usually take a breather before going back to school. 

The June holidays and year-end holidays are much longer and there may be some school activities (e.g. remedial lessons, camps) especially for upper primary students but parents often have to think of activities or look for holiday programmes to engage their children meaningfully. 

Some students take this opportunity to catch up with the curriculum and take stock of their understanding while others use the opportunity to prepare and be ahead of the school curriculum. 

How often are examinations? 

In the past, primary school students took part in examinations at the end of every term. They had the CA1 (Term 1), SA1 (Term 2/ Semester 1), CA2 (Term 3) and SA2 (Term 4/ Semester 2) examinations. Note: CA – Continual Assessment; SA – Semestral Assessment

The good news is that Primary 1 and 2 students will not have to take part in weighted assessments to “pace out teaching and learning” and will only take their first examination at the end of P2. This is so that students can be “curious and confident in learning, as opposed to being driven by examinations and grades from a young age”.

From 2021, schools will also be removing mid-year examinations for primary 3 and primary 5 students.

What are some responses to the removal of examinations?

On one hand, some parents have lauded the movement as they feel that this would reduce the stress on their children. On the other hand, some parents believe that this would bring about more uncertainty as they would not know how their children are progressing and would not be able to intervene early enough. Some have turned to enrichment and tuition centres to bridge that gap

Read on to find out more from the editor’s experience.

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