For students scoring in the borderline of around 190- 200 PSLE score, there is a dilemma of going to Express stream in a neighborhood school, or Normal Academic N(A) in a more established school. Note that even good schools like Anderson, ACS (Barker) do have N(A) streams.
Here are some advices from people who have experience:
First opinion says that N(A) in a good school is better:
“NA in good school
i myself is living example
in the end my parent chose express at neighborhood school
in the end that school is a s**** school. i cannot keep up with studies.
by secondary 2 i drop to NA
then stuck with the lousy neighborhood school and my whole life got ruin until now
if i can go back time i sure chose NA at good school”
This post (from Hardwarezone) made a good argument of why express stream is better:
“I think you have been grossly misinformed about the life of a NA student. You say your son is addicted to computer games but it seems like he is doing relatively ok to be able to qualify for the express stream.
Yes he will be learning at a slower pace but over the next 4 years your son will have to be resilient to constant peer pressure and have a good amount of perseverance as many if not most students from NA are known to be more boisterous and mischievous causing them to deviate from their studies. Not to mention the stigma associated with being in NA. During my time in one of your “preferred NA schools”, I’ve seen many good students fall out of their studies because of the influence of their peers. The “just because I’m in NA I cmi” mentality will sadly creep up to many.
In my batch, iirc out of 3 classes of NA students, only 1 class of about 30 people was able/ motivated enough to take their O Levels. If your son decides not to take his O’s in the future and goes to ITE instead, whatever good name the school has will not have any effect on his resume.
Moreover, it is not like “school reputation” has any standing in the hiring process. Unless you’re from a top school like RI/Hwa Chong, no one would give two hoots. Recruiters mostly look at your highest education obtained or post secondary education to see if there is any relation to the job scope you are applying for.
In my opinion, you are better off applying to an express neighbourhood school and see if he is able to cope rather to a “prestigious” school in the NA stream. He can always drop out of the express stream if he’s not suitable for it.”
This parent from Kiasuparents gives very compelling reasons in favor of Express:
“Every year, there are parents asking the same question: Exp or NA?
Every year, I would encourage parents to choose Express for their children, for the simple reason that O level syllabus is very rigorous. Children are expected to work hard right from the start, unlike NA.
Even though the school you get will not be a ‘good school’ (if you choose Express), the classmates your child mixes with are likely to be of similar academic profile, with some that only have ‘Exp’ as their option. Similarly, if your child chooses NA, the children he or she mixes with will also have some that only have ‘NA’ as their option.
There are children who transfer from NA to Exp, but how many are there? From what I heard, very few manage to do that. You may want to check with the schools you are interested in choosing NA for for the probability that your child could transfer to Exp though.
I just want to let you know that if it happens to my own child, I would choose Exp. If the child is willing to work hard, he will make it anywhere. And if he can make it anywhere, then why wouldn’t I choose a better stream for him so that he can get used to the rigorous syllabus earlier?”
This parent from Kiasuparents recommended Anderson and Presbyterian High as two good schools with Normal Academic:
“I would choose one where the school discipline is good, and the teachers are supportive of students etc, with good academic and non – academic programs to expose / stretch the child. If going for NA, you can consider Anderson Sec, Presbyterian High.. these are generally pretty good schools.”