Monday, December 24, 2012

How to go about sec 1 appeals

Ever since the school posting results for p6 kids on 19 December, there has been a flurry of activity around secondary schools in Singapore, with regards to appeals. Since appeals are handled by each school individually, MOE doesn't give much information on appeals on their website, so I thought I would write a post on it to give more clarity to interested parents.

School postings results are usually around the third week of December. It's a very straightforward process these days. No need to go down to school to find out which school your child has been posted to, you will receive the results via sms.

From what I know, this is where the buzz starts. Usually, you'll get many students and parents who are unhappy with the school they've been posted to and want to appeal to another school.  What do you do then?

First, your child will still need to register with the school he's been posted to. Have your child report to the posted school the following day at 8.30am, wearing his school uniform. There, he will register with the school and confirm his place.

Then, if you wish to appeal to another school, go down to that secondary school and fill in an appeal form (usually, the forms are made available from the day of school posting results). I recommend you call the school to find out what attachments you need to bring, so you can submit the form on the spot and not have to make another trip down.  Some schools make available the appeal forms even before school posting results, so call them and check.

Many common questions I encounter about appeals:

1) How many schools can I appeal to?

You can appeal to as many schools as you want, it's just a matter of legwork and form filling. You don't need to inform the school you've been posted to, until you've been successful in your appeal.  Check the deadline for appeals with the school you're interested in.

2) What do the schools look for in appeals?

I once met a mother who lamented to me that her son couldn't get in via appeal to a secondary school even though his brother was there. My first thought was, "err... you thought that was a valid reason?" I think when appealing, parents need to understand that the principal's main consideration will be, which student can best contribute to the school.

Therefore, the students who stand the best chances of appeals are those who:

a) have a talent in an area that the school needs, typically a CCA (especially niche area). Do note however, that the child will stand a better chance if he has either a record of achievement in that area or has already undergone a trial or audition at the school.  In such cases, the school might accept the student even if the t-score is quite a bit lower than the school's Cut-Off Point (COP). It's important to know that if you are successful for an appeal via CCA, you are expected to commit significantly to that CCA.

b) have a t-score that is very close to the school's COP. Arbitrarily, I would say it needs to be 2 or less. For top schools, you might need to have exactly the same t-score as the COP.  For this batch, you are banking on the fact that when the school has taken in all those they need stated in a), they will just take in appeals to fill vacancies based on those closest to their COP.

c) have put the school high on the priority on the School Option form. This one really depends on the school. Some schools don't care if you've even indicated interest in them initially, some do. But generally, I would say that even if this plays a part, it tends to be a secondary consideration. Criteria a) and b) are still more important.

Here's my personal advice on what reasons generally don't work for appeals:
  • My brother/sister/cousin/neighbour studied at your school.
  • I live within walking distance of your school.
  • My t-score is 10 points lower than your COP but I really really really really really like your school.
I need to stress though, that I'm just a parent, not a teacher or a school administrator. What I'm putting forward is my layperson point of view, based on what I've read and heard from schools and teachers. I'm told that at the end of the day, appeals are approved by the principal so even if you know a department head or board member, all he or she can do is put in a good word for you. The decision still ultimately lies with the principal.

3) How many vacancies do the schools have for appeals?

The appeal process is essentially a nation-wide game of musical chairs. The initial school posting is done by MOE purely based on t-score, ie all the students are all ranked based on t-score and given their choices accordingly until all the vacancies in each school are filled up.

This means that after the school posting exercise, most schools start off with no vacancies and have to wait till students successfully appeal out before they can take in their own appeal students. As you can imagine, this is a massive logistics exercise of epic luan-ness and the schools have all of two weeks to complete it.  This is why some schools, up to the second week of January, are still confirming appeal cases.

From what I've seen, a huge number of students appeal. The 250 scorers want to appeal to the 260 schools, the 240 scorers appeal to the 250 schools, and so on. Common sense then dictates that much of the process is first determined by the top schools and how many appeals they can accept, before domino-ing to the rest of the schools. As you would expect, the top schools tend to have extremely limited vacancies for appeals.

4) What should I expect after submitting the form and when will I know the results?

Many schools will tell you that they will inform only successful applicants. So if you want to know the results in the meantime, you'll need to call the school yourself for an update. Some schools require shortlisted students to go for interviews or trials so my advice is, don't plan any overseas vacations during this period.

Most schools inform the successful applicants by end December but as explained in 3), sometimes vacancies don't open up until early January so you'll need to be mentally prepared for such a scenario, if you're really keen on the school.

If you have been successful in your appeal, you'll be given a letter of offer which you should then bring to your original posted school to complete the transfer. 



My personal take on appeals is, do consider carefully what is your reason for wanting to appeal and your chances of success.  Often, I find that the reason for appeal is simply that the parent wants the child to go to a better school, with "better" being narrowly defined by the COP.

I once met a mother who told me she wanted to transfer her son from School A to School B because the badminton training sessions at School A took up a lot of time and were affecting his studies. I was puzzled as School B is a badminton niche school with an even more intensive training schedule than School A. When I told her about it, she replied, "Oh, but School B's O level results are better."

I find it baffling how some parents believe if they thrust their academically weak child into an academically strong environment, the child will magically blossom and churn out straight As along with everyone else.  Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Incidentally, I always look at a school's value-add score more so than their academic scores as that tells you how much impact the school had on the student.

Anecdotally, I've found that once parents and students report to the posted school, they find that it's  not too bad afterall.  It's just the initial shock or disappointment at not being given their first choice school.  But sometimes, coming to terms with the school and making your child feel comfortable with it is the best thing you can do for him, to help make the transition to secondary school a smooth one. Consider too that the first two weeks in a secondary school is usually the orientation period where kids make friends and adjust to a new environment. Transferring him out to a another school after that can be very unsettling and make him feel out of place.

I find that many neighbourhood schools in Singapore these days have fantastic facilities and a very dedicated teaching staff.  It's about finding an environment where your child can thrive in and you don't necessarily find that in a branded school.  In fact, many neighbourhood schools look after the kids much more so than in top schools which expect their students to be independent and perform from the onset.

While the PSLE t-score is not a perfect indicator of ability, it does offer a rough gauge. I would hesitate to put my child in a school which has a COP significantly higher than his t-score. I've heard anecdotal accounts where kids enter a school via DSA or appeals with t-scores some 30 or 40 points lower than the school's COP.  More often than not, the mismatch in ability ends up with the kids struggling for four years to keep up.

With this in mind, I would urge parents to take a longer term perspective - getting a foot into a choice school is merely the first move on a board game. Getting to the end having had an enriching experience is the real objective. Like with anything in life, you increase your odds of success if you operate with the end in mind. 

Here's wishing all readers a very blessed Christmas!




69 comments:

Lele (Student) said...

May I noe if there is a way to backout on the appeal? I've appealed for a school which I regretted on appealing and want to backout...

monlim said...

I'm sure you can contact the school to withdraw your appeal.

Anonymous said...

Your blog has been insightful! I have a scenario, wonder if can help decode? Son has t score of 233 and applied for a sch with same t score last year. Yes it's was really disappointing wn the t score raised by 1 point this yr and he was left out. Then today, when found out from the school web page that their t score was listed as 232 instead. Can you help share some light as to how this can happen? Appreciate your input. Zany

monlim said...

Zany: Sounds like there's a mistake somewhere (maybe in the listing). If the cutoff point really was 232, there's no reason why your son, with 233, would not have been accepted.

I guess you can write to the school to ask but since it's already the first week of Jan, it might not be ideal even if the school does grant your son a transfer. All the best to you!

Anonymous said...

I entered a school that was my 2nd choice. Once I entered, I thought it was ok. But later on, I realized that I really hated the other students due to (ie. immature, selfish, etc.) and there's not really anyone who I can call a "friend". Most people are rude. It's already march, but I want to transfer to another school.how? P.S. I'm in NA.

monlim said...

Anon: I don't know how transfers are made, this post is on appeals. I guess you can try writing to the school you want? There probably needs to be a vacancy though.

khoo zhen kun said...

Ok thank you

Anonymous said...

Hello :) I'm Sec 1 this year with a t-score of 246+2 last year. It's already June so I would like to ask, are we still able to appeal for transfers of school? I really really dislike this school, the teachers, the students, the cca, seniors, uniform, and I just seem to hate this school and I would love to transfer to other school (targeting either SNG or Anderson) Is there any way I can successfully transfer to this school? I really dun like the school and I feel that it is gonna affect my studies sooner or later. Pls help :)

monlim said...

Anon: I'm sure you can write in to the school you're eyeing and ask for a transfer. Attach your school results so far. I think it depends on whether the other school has vacancies.

However, since it's already June, I would really consider this move carefully. There will be another adjustment period and there's no guarantee you will like the new school better than your current one. Many sec schools also teach a slightly different syllabus for science, geography, history and lit so you might need to put in a lot of work to catch up.

Do think about carefully. All the best!

Anonymous said...

School A has an aggregate of 249 and my score happens to be 240. I have taken part in 2 SYFs for choir and School A happens to give importance to choir. Can I still apply to school A?

monlim said...

Anon: You can try to appeal.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I would like to thank you for the information about how to go about appealing. I want to try appealing since my score is just two marks below the school's COP. The two main reasons I wanted to enter was because it was the only school which had volleyball in my area. I only joined volleyball in mid Primary 5 and am not that skilled. In order to appeal, I need to give valid reasons about why I want to appeal, why I chose that school, my strengths and what I can do to contribute to that school. From what I have read, 'nearby' is not a good reason. What should I write on the appeal form? Thanks for the help.
-Katheryn

monlim said...

Katheryn: Essentially when considering appeals, the school wants to see how you can contribute to the school. From what you tell me, volleyball is the only valid reason you can give, so I would go with that, although it would be a stronger reason if you had already gone through the trials. The good part is you're only 2 pts below the COP, so you might still stand a chance.

Narmatha said...

I want to appeal for school A. The reason for my appealing is the school that I have gotten does not have my mother tongue. I want a good reason for my appealing. Do you have any reasons that can help me. school A's cut off points is 7 marks higher than my marks.
-Narmatha

jimlivfan said...

I'm so thankful for this very useful blog with regards to appeal. Ever since I got the posting result of my daughter's, I'm having a battling of thoughts abt the sch she's been posted. It's not even in our choice. I started to find more information abt that sch and not to mention some comments I received from my contacts on their experiences from their kids that were posted in that sch before. I can't help to fear, worry abt what impact it will give my daughter esp it's not something that we chose during the selection. My daughter took up Choir during her pri sch and had performed at the SYF for 2 yrs. Besides that, she is also actively involved in dance performances for sch concerts as she has the passion for dancing and took up ballet from external during her pre pri yrs and continued till she completed grade 2. After which, she has continued to dance under a different dancing sch on a different genre (hip-hop/K-pop) till to date. She has involved in many charity shows and even had the opportunity to perform on TV. The Certificate of Participation are usually presented to her dance school. Prior to the sec sch posting result, we went to open houses at sch A and sch B. Sch A admission for NA is 3points below my daughter's result as she is posted to Express. We are very keen to get into Sch A but during the QnA session,the principle had stressed that the sch looked strictly on agregate and will not consider even for admission for kids with even 1 point higher than the sch NA T score. With that, we look into Sch B and went for the open house. Sch B Express admission is 1 point higher than my daughter's agregate. We are very much looking forward to have our daughter posted in Sch B as she has already decided to take up sports CCA during the open house tour.
I am going to appeal to the Sch A and Sch but I'm not sure on what basis they will consider my case. Appreciate if you could give some advice? Thank you.

jimlivfan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
monlim said...

Narmatha: It's perfectly legit not to want the school you were assigned for not offering your MT. However, to be honest, 7 pts above your score is a lot and I don't think you stand a good chance. Would be more realistic if you tried appealing to a schl with a lower COP.

monlim said...

Jimlivefan: Each school has their own criteria and priorities. From what you tell me, if School B places emphasis on dance, your dd might stand a reasonable chance for appeal since it's only 1 pt difference.

My personal opinion is that I wouldn't choose the NA stream just to get into school A, unless you're convinced NA is the way to go. Whether Express or NA is a big decision and choosing it just because of the school doesn't quite make sense to me. Truly, any school is made up of both good and not so good kids, however you define "good". How well you do in a school is largely up to you.

But that's my personal opinion - it's a decision you and your dd will have to make based on your own convictions. All the best to you!

lollipop.merry said...

I would like to have your advice on the following situations:

I did not put a school in my choices, however my daughter now has 4 marks above the school COP, what are the chances of her appeal being successful?

I put a school in my choices, but then removed it afterwards, and my daughter has the same t-score as the school COP. What are the chances of my daughter's appeal being successful if I show a copy of the initial S1 option form to the school?

Thanks a lot!

monlim said...

Lollipop: I really can't comment on chances, as I've mentioned, it varies from school to school. No harm giving it a shot. I would say it's important for your daughter to want to go to the school though. It sounds like you're making the choice for her, which may not be good in the long term.

jimlivfan said...

Thank you Monlim for the advice. I hope at least any of my appeals accepted and successful.

kathy kathryn said...

If I have get in to my 1st choice and I wanted to appeal for changing to my 2nd choice of school
What reason can I say (if I don't have any CCA back up)or can I say school A don't have hip hop and school B have

Anonymous said...

Hi. I scored an aggregate of 223 and I really wanted to go to This particular school with COP 221. However, I wasn't accepted and was posted to Beatty (213) instead.

monlim said...

Kathy: Why did you put School A as first choice then? Just give the honest reason why you changed your mind and hope for the best.

Anon: If your t-score was above the COP of School A and it was your first choice, no reason you wouldn't have been posted there. Check with the school admin.

Anonymous said...

Hi my aggregate score is 233 I wanted to get into a school with COP 237 so I choosesd them as first choice but I didn't get post into that school and I didn't have any achievement in my cca and my results are descent may I know if I am mostly will or will not get into that school?

monlim said...

Anon: Based on just your school results, I think your chances are slim.

Anonymous said...

Thank u

3 Mama said...

My son has appeal for a neighborhood school that has the same COP as his T score since he can't get posted to it during the S1 posting. Do anyone know what is the chance of getting into it? He already went for his posted school orientation but he is not getting involved it as he is waiting for the result of the appeal. How long can my son go to a sec school with his pri sch uniform?

monlim said...

3Mama: Really up to the school. Check with the posted schl how long he can wear his pri schl uniform.

unknown said...

Hi monlim, my daughter will be attending an interview on Mon regarding her transfer in to school A. But she is worried about the interview qns. She has no cca to surpport her appeal. Any idea what will be asked?

monlim said...

Unknown: I'm not a teacher or a school administrator so I really wouldn't know what questions will be asked.

kathy kathryn said...

If I wanted to appeal for change a school in secondary 1 after I had study half year and I felt it is to far can I change school

monlim said...

Kathy: That's not an appeal, that's a transfer and yes, you can apply to do so.

Anonymous said...

Hi it might sound like a stupid question but will they inform you if your appeal has failed?

monlim said...

Anon: I mentioned this in the post - no, they won't. They only inform successful applicants.

jimlivfan said...

monlim, i just want to.share that my appeal went well. My daughter gets into a sch of our convenient location. I'm so glad that the effort is all worth it. I received a call from the sch on 29 dec and was in time to settle the admin matters. Managed to get uniform, books just before the sch starts. She is much happier now and more settled in the new environment. There's always stories to share abt what's happening in sch :) thks again for the great sharing.

monlim said...

JImlivfan: Happy to hear that the appeal was successful and in good time! Thanks for letting me know :)

jimlivfan said...

Monlim, Just when I thought things are over, I just received another offer from sch B which was my daughter's 1st Choice during the sch selection. So, when she was posted to a sch that not in our selection list, the first sch that we went to appeal is sch B, followed by others. Of course we were glad that the current sch(not in her 6choices) open the door to her as it was just in time before the sch re-opens. I conveyed the message to my daughter just now abt this offer by sch B and first thing I see her tears of joy. She broke down and told us that it is always been her dream to be in that sch B. She asked me if I'm fine if she were to request to be in sch B as she said that after a week in the current sch, she still doesn't feel the full anticipation as she prefers the facilities and the environment at sch B. Especially she had visited sch B as part of her learning journey after PSLE. We even went to the Open House after the release of PSLE result, and she has already plan to put sch B as her first choice.
What would your advice for such situation?

monlim said...

Jimlivfan: Joining a school two weeks after the year has started means some kids would have already formed friends and cliques. But as long as your daughter understands the situation and is prepared to manage the potential adjustments needed, I would let her make the decision.

She will be in the school for 4 years and she needs to own the decision, otherwise she might come to resent that she's in a school that her parents forced her to be in. Hope that helps!

dreamz with u said...

Can post something about how to transfer school and how long is the process that i have to wait

monlim said...

Sorry, I don't know how to go about transfers.

Anonymous said...

Hi my aggregate score is 197 and I really want to go to this sch which COP is 199. As you can see its only 2 marks more than my aggregate so what should I do? I already put that school as my first choice(express) and I'm not sure whether I'll be able to enter. If I appeal,will it be okay for the valid reason to be about joing the modern dance cca cause ever since a special dance programme came into my primary school(during p6) I started to have a passion for dancing. Is that reason okay? I'm really troubled now as I want to enter that sec school but still not sure:( Pls help if possible

monlim said...

Anon: You can give it a try. I don't think you can use modern dance as a reason if you haven't had a proven record in it. But no harm trying since you're only two points behind the COP.

Anonymous said...

Can we appeal to go to normal stream if eligible for express stream?

monlim said...

I'm not sure about that. Check with your school?

Anonymous said...

Anon, if you are eligible for express stream, go for it.
It is much harder for students in NA stream to transfer to Express stream.
There are two windows of transfers : at the end of Sec 1 and Sec 2, but the student would have to do very well : typically having an average of 70% across all subjects.

Veni said...

Thank u for this usefull information. My child mark is 12 marks away from the school she wants to so can i appeal and would the results be positive. But she also has other talents that the school is good in. She also have some certificate

monlim said...

Veni: As mentioned in my post, the considerations differ from school to school. You can still give it a try.

veni said...

Thank you

Sharon Loh said...

My girl scored an aggregate of 221, what is her chances of getting in a 225 school? TIA

monlim said...

Sharon: I really wouldn't know, I'm not a school administrator. Just give it a try?

Sharon Loh said...

Thank you monlim for all the useful info. Have a nice day.

Dyla Dynz said...

My son got a score of 166 and his 1st choice school has a cop score of 155 but in the end he got 3rd choice whose cop was also 155.. u think I can appeal?

monlim said...

Dyla: If his score was higher than the cop of his first choice school, he should have gotten in. You might want to check if there was an error.

Phua Swee cye said...

In 2015,can i still appeal to more than one school

monlim said...

Phua: Yes, you can.

Xie Kevin said...

haiz i wrote in achievements that i represented sch in debate and maths olympiad and wrote in why i want to join because of religious affiliation and distance will the sch look at the achievements too and read in between the lines? my score is 1 point below cop

monlim said...

Kevin: It depends whether those areas are important to the school and the strength of other appeal candidates. Distance is not a consideration.

Xue yin said...

Hi! I'm wondering if there's a difference of nine marks how high is the chance for me to get in the school?

monlim said...

Xue Yin: Again, it really depends on the school.

Anonymous said...

So I got posted to school B tat was my fifth choice and I'm squeezed to the v back of the class.SchoolBalso doesn't offers Chinese orchestra(which had been my cca in primary school for like 4 yrs I didn't have much achievement in tat cca but I'm not interested in any of the other ccas offered by school B)and school A which was my first and second choice happens to offer Chinese orchestra and both of my gd friends from primary school is in school A(one of them had been my best friend ever since p1 and I really couldn't bear to part from her)but I know tat isn't a valid reason to transfer but...Can u pls giv me some advice on how to transfer (my PSLE aggregate is 3 points lower than school a's cop for olevel also wat are my chances of transferring successfully into school A?
Thanks

monlim said...

Anon: Transfers are different from appeals - I'm not too familiar with transfers. I think schools entertain transfers only if you have already demonstrated good results which means you'll need to be in your posted school for at least a term. Instead of yearning to go somewhere else, why not make the most of your posted school and make some new friends? You might find that it's not too bad after all.

Anonymous said...

my nephew also appealed, we received rejects...but we tried :-)
chase your dreams..even if you fail in your appeal, study hard and try transferring in Secondary 2...look at the horizon, follow that rainbow, go ride it...quote from LKY

Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm sec 1 this year, I got into my second choice school and wants to appeal to my first choice school. Okay, let's say second choice school is School A, first choice school is School B.

So the COP for school B is 195, I got 194. And the COP for school A is 188. I couldn't get into my preffered school even though its just 1 mark away. It's March and I really wish to appeal, do you think I should ? I tried to appeal at the start of the year but it wasn't successful. My reason was that my father had stroke last year in March, and my family didn't have enough money for me to take transport everyday (my second choice school is really far away) because we used up mostly of our money on the hospital bills.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm that anonymous that comment on 22 March, 18:48pm. I forgot to indicate that School B (my preffered school) is also affliated to my primary school.

monlim said...

Anon: It's already March, meaning what you're looking for is not an appeal any more but a transfer. For this, you'll need to write in to the school of your choice and ask if they're open to transfers.

Love@Kaimono said...

Hi,
just got my daughter's Psle results today and having dilemma now.
She got 201 and can only opt for express stream.

I actually wanted her to go into NA in a good school nearby but the COP is xxx-199 in order for her to enter to NA.
My daughter and I had discussed beforehand (using her prelim result) and she agreed.
But now with her PSLE result, she can only choose express stream in other schools and unable to opt for NA to this school. do you think that I can appeal to this school to get her into NA.

monlim said...

Love@kaimono: I'm not sure. I think I've heard of pupils scoring above 200 in the NA stream though. Perhaps check with the school?

Love@Kaimono said...

I checked with the School and also MOE and they mentioned that no point appealing as they won't entertain this kind of request... 😂 because it's stated clearly she can go express... well, think we have to come to terms with that. (Cross fingers and pray hard that my daughter will be able to handle the stress level of express stream)

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