A Comprehensive Overview of Primary School Education in Singapore: Understanding SAP and GEP Schools

Last Updated March 5, 2024

Reading Time 15 minutes


Singapore’s education system is renowned globally for its excellence, and the foundation of this success lies in its primary school education. The primary education system in Singapore plays a pivotal role in shaping the academic, social, and character development of young learners. This article provides a general overview of primary schools in Singapore, shedding light on the unique features of Special Assistance Plan (SAP) and Gifted Education Programme (GEP) schools. The admission /balloting process will also discussed in this article. 

Primary education in Singapore is compulsory for six years for all Singaporean citizens born after January 1st, 1996. The Ministry of Education (MOE) oversees the curriculum, which emphasizes a holistic approach integrating academic subjects like English, Mathematics, Science, Mother Tongue Languages (MTL), and social studies with character development, critical thinking, and creativity.

singapore primary school strong foundation 1 1
singapore primary school strong foundation 1 1
diverse learning 2
diverse learning 2

General Overview of Primary Schools:

Primary education in Singapore typically spans six years, starting from Primary 1 to Primary 6, catering to children aged 7 to 12. The curriculum is designed to provide a strong foundation in languages, mathematics, science, and social studies. In addition to academic subjects, emphasis is placed on character education, values inculcation, and the development of soft skills.

Primary education is divided into two cycles – Foundation Stage (Primary 1 to Primary 3) and Practice Stage (Primary 4 to Primary 6). The Foundation Stage focuses on building a strong academic and social foundation, while the Practice Stage involves a more in-depth study of subjects in preparation for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Types of Schools:

The primary school landscape comprises several types of schools:

  • Government schools: These offer the national curriculum at subsidized fees.
  • Government-aided schools: Similar to government schools but receive some financial aid from religious organizations or other entities.
  • Independent schools: These are private schools with their own curriculum and fees.

Special Assistance Plan (SAP) Schools:

SAP schools are a distinctive feature of Singapore’s primary education landscape. These schools offer a bilingual education in English and Mandarin, aiming to preserve and promote the Chinese language and culture. The SAP was introduced in 1979, and it currently encompasses a select group of secondary schools, junior colleges, and primary schools.

In SAP primary schools, the curriculum is enriched with a stronger emphasis on the Chinese language, literature, and culture. Students are immersed in an environment that fosters bilingual proficiency, helping them develop a deep appreciation for both English and Mandarin. The SAP program not only enhances linguistic skills but also instills cultural awareness and understanding.

There are 15 SAP schools, namely:

Gifted Education Programme (GEP) Schools:

The Gifted Education Programme (GEP) caters to students who demonstrate exceptional intellectual abilities. GEP schools provide an accelerated and enriched curriculum to challenge and stimulate the intellectual development of gifted students. The program was introduced in 1984 to nurture the talents of the academically advanced and creative learners.

GEP primary schools identify and admit students through a rigorous selection process, typically conducted in Primary 3. The curriculum in GEP schools goes beyond the standard primary education syllabus, offering advanced topics in mathematics, science, language arts, and critical thinking. GEP students engage in a more challenging learning environment, fostering a spirit of inquiry and independent thinking.

There are total 9 GEP Schools: 

Please take note that Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) at Barker Rd will move to Tengah and become a co-ed school from 2030, the Ministry of Education announced on 9-Feb-2023. 

Here’s a table summarizing the key differences between SAP and GEP schools:

Feature SAP Schools GEP Schools
Focus Mother Tongue Language (MTL) Academically gifted students
Curriculum National curriculum with emphasis on MTL Differentiated curriculum with deeper and broader exploration
Selection process Based on geographical location Rigorous selection test
Language of instruction English and MTL English

Choosing the Right School:

The choice between a SAP, GEP, or mainstream school depends on individual needs and aspirations. Parents should consider their child’s strengths, interests, learning style, and desired language proficiency when making this important decision.

Exploring the MOE website, “https://www.moe.gov.sg/“, and attending school open houses can provide valuable information and help navigate this crucial step in a child’s educational journey.

Here are five key factors to consider when making this important choice:

1. Matching Passions with Programs:

Does your child have a budding interest in music, sports, or art? Consider schools offering programs that nurture these talents and provide opportunities for your child to explore their passions.

2. Finding the Right Location:

Think about the school’s location and the commute involved. Aim for a school that minimizes travel time, allowing your child more rest and energy for after-school activities or focused engagement in schoolwork.

3. Embracing Cultural Identity:

For children with a strong cultural heritage, consider schools with robust Mother Tongue Language programs. This fosters deeper cultural connections and strengthens linguistic skills, providing a valuable foundation for their development.

4. Understanding the School Environment:

Explore the school’s culture and environment through visits, open houses, and interactions with teachers and staff. This allows you to understand if their values and learning style align with your child’s needs and your family’s values.

5. Addressing Special Needs:

If your child has any special educational needs, ensure the chosen school offers the necessary support structures and programs to ensure their academic success and well-being. Additionally, consider using the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) SchoolFinder tool to gain further insights into various schools and their offerings.

By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the ideal primary school that will provide your child with the foundation for a successful and fulfilling learning journey.

Infographic on choosing primary school

School Admission Process

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. You key in the date of birth of your child into the eligibility checker on MOE’s website to know when to register. 

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 window period for each phase is usually lasts less than 2 days so don’t leave the decision making to the final hour.


  1. Phase 1 (Sibling Priority): Children with siblings already studying in the desired school have priority.
  2. Phase 2A (Alumni Priority): Children of alumni and those with close connections to the school qualify here.
  3. Phase 2B (Volunteer Priority): Parents who volunteered at least 40 hours in the school qualify.
  4. Phase 2C (1-2km): Open to all SCs living within 1-2 km of the school.
  5. Phase 2C Supplementary (Outside 2km): Open to any remaining SC/PR applicants.
  6. Phase 3 (International Students): Applies to international students seeking entry.

Upon the completion of the Primary 1 registration process, you will receive notifications about your child’s placement via SMS. Following this, you will need to submit miscellaneous forms, including immunization records, and expect to receive emails guiding you on the necessary preparations for the first day of school.

The subsequent steps involve attending an orientation day at the chosen school. During this session, you can finalize arrangements such as school bus services, purchase school supplies like uniforms and textbooks, and address any remaining administrative details. The academic year typically begins on the Monday of the first week of January.

singapore primary school strong foundation 3
Singapore Primary School – Building the Foundation

P1 Application Tips

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

On top of that, to make the Primary 1 application process smoother, here are some tips from experienced parents who have navigated the system:

  1. Consider Balloting Data:

    • Review balloting data from previous years available on the Ministry of Education’s website. This can help you identify schools with better admission odds, potentially making the selection process more manageable.

  2. Prioritize Getting Your First Child In:

    • Focus on securing admission for your first child. Some parents choose to volunteer at the school, while others consider relocating for priority admission. However, it’s crucial to note that slots are not guaranteed. Once your first child is admitted, the subsequent admission process for siblings becomes more secure.

  3. Explore Open Houses:

    • Attend open houses at various primary schools to gain insights into each school’s culture. Take the opportunity to speak with students and parent volunteers during your visits, as they may provide unofficial tips that can aid in decision-making.

Embarking on the Primary 1 registration journey can be intimidating for first-time parents, but with careful consideration, strategic planning, and insights from experienced individuals, the process becomes more manageable and less overwhelming.

Popularity of Schools Based on Phase 2B

Our understanding of popular schools is drawn from the Phase 2B registration data provided by the Ministry of Education (MOE). The popularity score is determined by the ratio of Phase 2B applicants to available vacancies.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that popularity does not always correlate with the quality or appropriateness of a school for a particular child. The suitability of each school varies based on the unique needs of individual children. It’s essential to consider factors beyond popularity when making the final decision.

Singapore Primary School Map
Singapore Primary School Map
School NamePhase 2B Total Vacancies Phase 2B Total ApplicantsPopularity (Applicants/ Vacancies
Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) 20793.95
Tao Nan School – SAP & GEP23612.65
Ai Tong School – SAP20482.4
Holy Innocents’ Primary School – SAP21502.38
CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School – SAP20462.3
Admiralty Primary School22492.23
St. Joseph’s Institution Junior38842.21
Catholic High School – SAP & GEP20432.15
Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) 27572.11
Chongfu School25512.04
Kong Hwa School – SAP32652.03
St. Hilda’s Primary School – GEP20402
Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) – GEP28551.96
Nan Chiau Primary School41791.93
Nan Hua Primary School – SAP & GEP20381.9
Nanyang Primary School – SAP & GEP20371.85
Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School – SAP20371.85
Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School31541.74
Rulang Primary School20341.7
Singapore Chinese Girls’ Primary School20341.7
Maris Stella High School – SAP27451.67
Fairfield Methodist School (Primary)20331.65
South View Primary School20301.5
CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh)27401.48
Henry Park Primary School – GEP21291.38
Pei Chun Public School – SAP20271.35
Xinmin Primary School24321.33
Red Swastika School – SAP20261.3
St. Anthony’s Primary School32391.22
Rosyth School – GEP20241.2
Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary)41471.15
Northland Primary School20221.1
Pasir Ris Primary School21221.05
Mee Toh School50501
Radin Mas Primary School20201
CHIJ Our Lady Of The Nativity54530.98
Horizon Primary School20190.95
Raffles Girls’ Primary School – GEP43390.91
Sengkang Green Primary School23210.91
Maha Bodhi School – SAP37330.89
St. Andrew’s Junior School37310.84
Keming Primary School24190.79
Chua Chu Kang Primary School32250.78
River Valley Primary School26200.77
Anderson Primary School28210.75
Gongshang Primary School20150.75
Hong Wen School – SAP36270.75
Bukit Panjang Primary School29210.72
St. Gabriel’s Primary School34240.71
Frontier Primary School20140.7
CHIJ Our Lady Of Good Counsel32200.63
Poi Ching School – SAP43270.63
Canossa Catholic Primary School27160.59
Hougang Primary School32180.56
Westwood Primary School20110.55
Qifa Primary School44220.5
Temasek Primary School20100.5
Yu Neng Primary School20100.5
St. Margaret’s School (Primary)40190.48
Tanjong Katong Primary School30140.47
Canberra Primary School43190.44
Innova Primary School33140.42
Woodlands Primary School31130.42
Yangzheng Primary School2290.41
White Sands Primary School35140.4
Compassvale Primary School44170.39
Montfort Junior School38150.39
Rivervale Primary School31120.39
CHIJ (Katong) Primary43160.37
Shuqun Primary School30110.37
St. Stephen’s School62230.37
CHIJ (Kellock)46160.35
Chongzheng Primary School2070.35
CHIJ Our Lady Queen Of Peace46120.26
De La Salle School48120.25
Princess Elizabeth Primary School2050.25
Punggol Primary School2860.21
Punggol Green Primary School2040.2
Wellington Primary School2040.2
Woodgrove Primary School2550.2
Marymount Convent School67130.19
Jurong West Primary School2740.15
Teck Ghee Primary School4160.15
West Grove Primary School5280.15
Alexandra Primary School3940.1
Ngee Ann Primary School4240.1
Riverside Primary School2020.1
Geylang Methodist School (Primary)4440.09
Qihua Primary School5450.09
St. Anthony’s Canossian Primary School6760.09
Concord Primary School3930.08
Fern Green Primary School2520.08
Kheng Cheng School4840.08
Elias Park Primary School3020.07
Tampines Primary School2820.07
Telok Kurau Primary School2820.07
Townsville Primary School4330.07
Endeavour Primary School5230.06
Huamin Primary School3220.06
Valour Primary School3320.06
Fengshan Primary School2510.04
Jiemin Primary School2810.04
Jing Shan Primary School2410.04
Waterway Primary School2810.04
Fernvale Primary School3810.03
Naval Base Primary School3510.03
Opera Estate Primary School3610.03
Park View Primary School3610.03
Punggol Cove Primary School3110.03
Sembawang Primary School3510.03
Xishan Primary School3710.03
Zhangde Primary School3110.03
Zhonghua Primary School3910.03
Bukit Timah Primary School4210.02
Corporation Primary School5110.02
Farrer Park Primary School4210.02
Fuchun Primary School4910.02
Greenwood Primary School4610.02
Haig Girls’ School4310.02
Northshore Primary School5910.02
Palm View Primary School4610.02
Xingnan Primary School6310.02
Yew Tee Primary School4610.02
Lianhua Primary School7910.01
Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School4300
Anchor Green Primary School4000
Ang Mo Kio Primary School5000
Angsana Primary School6700
Beacon Primary School4500
Bedok Green Primary School5100
Bendemeer Primary School4400
Blangah Rise Primary School3200
Boon Lay Garden Primary School7500
Bukit View Primary School7700
Cantonment Primary School4500
Casuarina Primary School2800
Cedar Primary School6200
Changkat Primary School4800
Clementi Primary School6000
Damai Primary School5900
Dazhong Primary School2400
East Spring Primary School3800
Edgefield Primary School4600
Evergreen Primary School4200
First Toa Payoh Primary School4200
Fuhua Primary School2700
Gan Eng Seng Primary School3700
Greendale Primary School4400
Greenridge Primary School3900
Junyuan Primary School3700
Jurong Primary School2600
Kranji Primary School3300
Lakeside Primary School3800
Marsiling Primary School4600
Mayflower Primary School3800
Meridian Primary School3500
New Town Primary School5800
North Spring Primary School4600
North View Primary School4800
North Vista Primary School3900
Northoaks Primary School6200
Oasis Primary School2000
Pei Tong Primary School5800
Peiying Primary School3600
Punggol View Primary School2000
Queenstown Primary School4000
Seng Kang Primary School4900
Si Ling Primary School3200
Springdale Primary School2900
Tampines North Primary School4900
Teck Whye Primary School5700
Unity Primary School4100
West Spring Primary School2000
West View Primary School2800
Woodlands Ring Primary School4700
Xinghua Primary School7700
Yio Chu Kang Primary School4700
Yishun Primary School3300
Yuhua Primary School5000
Yumin Primary School3600
Zhenghua Primary School3000
Recent Phase 2B Balloting Result for all primary schools in Singapore
pri school straits times
Singapore Primary School – Building the Foundation


Singapore’s primary education system is characterized by its commitment to academic excellence, holistic development, and inclusivity. SAP and GEP schools stand out as specialized offerings within this system, addressing the unique needs of students with a focus on bilingual education and giftedness, respectively. These programs contribute to the overall success and diversity of Singapore’s education landscape, ensuring that students are well-prepared for the challenges of the future.

The Gifted Education Programme (GEP) caters to students who demonstrate exceptional intellectual abilities. GEP schools provide an accelerated and enriched curriculum to challenge and stimulate the intellectual development of gifted students. The program was introduced in 1984 to nurture the talents of the academically advanced and creative learners.

GEP primary schools identify and admit students through a rigorous selection process, typically conducted in Primary 3. The curriculum in GEP schools goes beyond the standard primary education syllabus, offering advanced topics in mathematics, science, language arts, and critical thinking. GEP students engage in a more challenging learning environment, fostering a spirit of inquiry and independent thinking.

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