2020 School Placement Exercise For Returning Singaporeans Amidst COVID-19: Will It Be Harder To Get A Placement?

It’s the time of the year for the School Placement Exercise for Returning Singaporeans (SPERS)! Opening for applications from the 15th of July 2020, this is an opportunity for Singaporean children returning from overseas to join Singapore’s Secondary schools, Junior Colleges (JC) or Millennia Institute (MI) at the start of the academic year in 2021. This centralised placement exercise is meant to give Singaporean parents who used to work abroad and now are not, a chance for their children to apply for re-entry into the mainstream school system in Singapore. Returning Singaporean (RS) children only need to sit for a centralised test, thereafter indicating their schools of choice. They will then eventually be posted to a suitable school by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Something important that parents have to take note of is that there will generally not be placement for Secondary 4 and Pre-University 2 levels as they are national examination years and crucial. As for the other levels, the tests for Secondary 1 to 3 are scheduled to be from the 22th to the 24th of September 2020 and the tests for Pre-University 1 are scheduled to be on the 12th of November 2020. In any case, RS students should consider acquiring home tuition in Singapore for better preparation of the tests and to slowly reintegrate back into the Singapore education system and meet her requirements. Results will then be released in December 2020, where children will be able to join the respective secondary schools and JC/MI in the beginning of the school term in 2021.

What If I Can’t Go Back To Singapore In Time?

Some families may face the issue of not being able to return to Singapore in time to sit for the tests held in September and November 2020 respectively for Secondary and JC/MI levels. Fret not because MOE will usually conduct another round of tests but under the Supplementary Placement Exercise (SPE). This is however only for placement into Singapore Secondary schools and does not cover JC/MI. Registration for SPE will typically open in October of 2020 and the test will be held around mid-December of 2020.

Application outcomes will be slightly later in early February 2021, and students will enrol into their Secondary schools only then. This is why while there is an option of SPE, parents are advised to apply for SPERS if they are able to return to Singapore in time so that their children will be able to start their academic year in 2021 in January alongside their peers.

How Different Would It Be This Year Due To COVID-19?

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, the centralised placement exercises will definitely be subjected to the safety measures in place by the government. Apart from that, there might be a larger pool of RS students this year due to the uncertain virus outbreak. MOE hence strongly encourages RS children who are just keen to seek a place in any suitable school near their Singapore residence to simply make use of MOE’s  Assured School Placement service.

This service guarantees admission of the RS child into a school with vacancies. It is a convenient and safe admissions route where students do not even need to sit for the centralised tests to compete for a spot. However, students may still be subjected to school-based tests to determine the suitability of course of study or level to put the child in!

My RS Child Is Not Looking To Enrol In Secondary, JC or MI but Primary. How?

If your RS child isn’t of age to enrol in Secondary, JC/MI, they actually have it slightly easier. For Primary school placement, parents of RS children may approach MOE for assistance at any time of the year! MOE will subsequently offer your child a placement in a primary school with vacancies. Placement of Primary school will also be based on how near it is to your child’s residence, and certainly at a level appropriate for your child’s current age group.

Though your child will not need to sit for any centralised placement test, students may still be subjected to school-based tests to determine the suitability of course of study or level to put the child in. If your child requires assistance in that area, FamilyTutor, a leading private tuition agency in Singapore offers private tuition services for RS students to better prepare themselves for the new school environment ahead! Do not worry too much though, the school-based tests are only put in place to have a gauge of your child’s current attainment level which would help the school better tailor to the needs of your child accordingly.

In this trying period, MOE works very hard to ensure that every RS student will receive top-notch education back in Singapore. As we continue to battle COVID-19 as a country, FamilyTutor wishes all RS a smooth placement exercise this year!

For your information, the ‘Current Affairs’ series covers the latest news and developments in the realm of education, added with a dash of discussion and a sprinkle of opinion!



Zoe is an undergraduate student in Singapore who loves thinking deeply and translating them into writing. She hopes her reflective opinions and sound advice weaved into relevant articles will be useful for you in one way or another!

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