Parent Volunteer for Primary School Registration
Is it worth our time and energy to apply as parent volunteer to increase the chances of securing a spot in our primary school of choice?
Why is there a need to do Parent Volunteer?
When we moved to our place more than 5 years ago, we did not really think much about schools as our child was still a baby. I only started paying more attention when she turned 4. After researching, I realized that the school near to us is considered as one of the “popular” schools amongst parents. Based on previous years history, there is a very high chance of balloting within 1km of Phase 2C registration for this primary school. In all honesty, my personal preference would be to send my child to a regular ‘neighborhood’ school with less academic pressure. However, I also can’t deny the convenience it offers if she gets a place in this primary school.
The window of parent volunteer application is normally 1 to 2 years prior to primary school registration. So if your child will turns 7 in 2020, primary school registration year is 2019. This means volunteer work should have started latest by mid 2018 (the year your child is in K1). Some schools start their parent volunteer application quite early too (as early as when your child is in N2). Best to call up your target primary school to clarify timelines. Also some schools also don’t accept parent volunteer so it is good to inquire early to plan ahead.
Note take not that Parent Volunteer only applies for Singapore Citizen and Permanent Residents. For foreigners, find out more information about MOE P1 registration here.
The Application process for Parent Volunteer
We decided to apply for parent volunteer to the primary school nearby. The application timeline for this school is about a month. May 2017 was application month and outcome was mailed by June 2017. As part of application, we were given a form to fill up on what skills we can offer to the school – along with basic information such as citizenship status and address. Note that only 1 parent can apply for 1 child and once accepted, no change of name is allowed (ie if husband applied, wife can not do on his behalf).
Yes! We were very lucky to get accepted. Apparently the school received about 200+ applications and they only accepted 20 parent volunteers. Not sure how the school chose who to accept and what were the criteria used. My advice would be to get the application form by day 1 and submit application by day 2. Who knows it could be first come first serve basis?
The Parent Volunteer Journey
Along with the acceptance letter, the school requested parent volunteers to attend a short session where the principal of the school gave a short talk. It was also in this session that the school mentioned that there is no guarantee that all 20 parent volunteers will get in thru Phase 2B. There are other criteria such as grassroot leaders within Phase 2B, hence there is still balloting risk.
My husband was the parent volunteer. He clocked in at least 40 hours of volunteer work. He was assigned to do traffic duties, event support and gardening work. If parents are busy and can’t take leave, the best task to volunteer on would be traffic duty. It happens every day for 30 minutes early in the morning when students are going to school. Of course, it is ideal if you stay nearby as well. Otherwise travelling 30mins back and forth to do this duty won’t be that easy. Some parents preferred to do event support as that meant clocking in at least 4 hours per event.
Different schools will offer different volunteering opportunities. We had hoped to learn more about the school but interaction with teachers, school staff , parents and students were limited. Nevertheless, it provided us a glimpse of the school culture and environment.
Is it worth it to be a Parent Volunteer?
Was it easy? No definitely it wasn’t. 40 hours sounds little but it isn’t if you have a full time job. Is it worth it? YES! It gave us a chance to secure a slot that would save my daughter from taking a shuttle bus for the next 6 years (that’s at least 600 hours of travel time and more than SG$7000 of shuttle bus fees).
If you are considering to apply for parent volunteer, list down the reasons why you should and shouldn’t. We have our own reasons and priorities in doing so. Some might judge you but do not let it affect your decision. Ultimately, you and your spouse should decide what is best for your family.
Thanks for reading!