WARNING: This post requires high amount of bandwidth! Wi-Fi connection advised.
Hello again, everyone!
This post has come earlier than planned because of the recent news about the merger of 8 secondary schools. It’s pretty sad as some of these schools were once a merging party not long ago, and now they have to face it again. Since there are many more schools that I did not cover previously, I thought I should do a follow-up post to try and include as many defunct schools as possible including the 8 latest victims.
In my previous entry, I mentioned some causes that could have led to the closure of most schools (e.g. population shift, ageing facilities etc.) but I failed to mention one crucial point. Remember the post World-War II baby boom during the late 1940s to 1950s? The sudden increase in population called for more schools to be built then (which makes sense, considering that most of these closed schools were built in the late 1950s-60s when most of the children were ready to be schooled) and some even had insufficient vacancies. Then came the 1970s-1980 when the Stop at Two programme was introduced to control the population growth in Singapore. The programme pushed for small nuclear families and penalised couples for having more than three children (no priority given in school registration to third and subsequent kids of parents who had not been sterilised before the age of 40). As the existing children got older, the number of schooling kids in the estate reduced (since no one dared to procreate anymore). Thus, the enrolment in most neighbourhood (or “estate”) schools started declining which subsequently forced them to close.
Therefore it was very common for students to keep changing schools as a result of school closures in the past, so don’t be taken aback by people who have attended numerous schools back then. They simply had no choice!
Anyway, back to my topic on defunct schools. Here is the continued list in no particular order again (I try my best to rearrange them according to districts):
* * *
Monk’s Hill Secondary School (Newton)
Merged into Balestier Hill Secondary School in 2007
The school’s history began in 1958 on a plot of land that was once the site of a Chinese monastery, hence the name ‘Monk’s Hill’. It became an integrated school in 1961, offering both English- and Malay-medium education to its intake of pupils but both mediums were merge in 1976. From then on, it has established itself as an English-medium school. It became a single-session school when it shifted to its new premises at 12 Winstedt Road in 1993.
In 1960, Monk’s Hill presented its first batch of candidates for the national School Certificate Examination. In 1964, the school song was composed and it held its first Speech and Prize-Presentation Day in 1967.
Newton Boys’ School (Newton)
Merged into Monk’s Hill Primary School in 1978
Newton Boys’ was established in 1956, right next to Monk’s Hill Primary School. It was one of the schools in Cairnhill-Newton area that was hit by declining enrolment. Due to its inability to sustain economically, it ceased operations 21 years after its opening. While students could still utilise Newton Boys’ premises, they were to be under the charge of Monk’s Hill Primary School.
No further information can be found. I did come across “Winstedt School” (also in the vicinity but closed in 1973) while trying to gather more information about Newton Boys’ but I am not certain if these two schools were in any way related.
Monk’s Hill Primary School (Newton)
Closed after 1986 (exact year unknown)
Like Newton Boys’, Monk’s Hill Primary started out as an all-boys school. Monk’s Hill Primary and Newton Boys’ were relatively near to each other and students from both schools would come together to play the “Police and Thief” game. Otherwise, they (the boys in particular) would be “fighting” over girls from neighbouring Anthony Road Girls’ School.
The school’s year of establishment is not known, but it could have been around since 1950.
Monk’s Hill Primary merged with Newton Boys’ School in 1978 and operated out of the latter’s campus. One block of its building was converted into a language centre for secondary and junior college students taking French, German and Japanese under a special Education Ministry scheme. Prior to that, it was used by the Vocational and Industrial Training Board.
In 1957, Hua Yi Secondary School moved to Monk’s Hill Primary’s building (probably shared) and only stayed there for a year before shifting again to its very own building at Margaret Drive.
Cairnhill Primary School (Newton)
Closed in 1980
Started as an all-girls school in 1958 (verification needed) at the present site of Raffles Girls’ Secondary School today, it shifted to Cairnhill Road a year later and possibly at the same time became co-ed. (History quoted from Hamida Pagi)
Following a steady decline in its enrolment, the Ministry of Education then decided to phase out the school by the end of 1980. Its students were given alternative places in nearby schools such as Monk’s Hill Primary and Anthony Road Girls’ School which were also plagued by poor enrolment. Both said schools are no longer existent today.
After Cairnhill was demolished, Anglo Chinese School (Junior) took over its site for about two decades before finally shifting to its present location at Windstedt Road. The site at Cairnhill Road is now occupied by Ministry of Education Language Centre (Newton). The facade of Cairnhill Primary can still be seen today.
Local actor Adrian Pang, comedian Kumar and singer Rahima Rahim attended Cairnhill Primary School. Wow, if Rangoon Road Primary (mentioned in PART 1) was a school that groomed a generation of politicians, then Cairnhill Primary definitely was one that groomed a troupe of performers!!
Elling North School
Elling South School (Bartley)
Merged in 1985 to form Elling Primary School (verification needed)
Closed in 1996
Elling North School started functioning as a boys’ school in 1958 until 1960. It was renamed to Elling North Primary School in 1979 when it became a fully English-medium school. The school buildings were later converted into JAMIYAH Children’s Home (Darul Ma’wa) in 1993.
No further information can be found for Elling South and the amalgamated school except for the fact that Singapore’s first female commercial pilot Teo Ah Hong was from Elling South School.
Maju Secondary School (Dakota)
Merged into Broadrick Secondary School in 1996
The school was established in 1968. According to a Malay teacher there, female Maju students (or “Majuans”, as they called themselves) were allowed to wear uniform in either baju kurung or blouse. Some of the Chinese students followed suit and wore baju kurung. Not sure how true that is because all the class photos I found on Maju Sec’s Facebook page had no female students in baju kurung.
Correct me if I’m wrong (I can’t find any supporting references), but the school gives me an impression that it was a Malay-populated school. So could it be one of the few Malay-medium schools in the early days of Singapore’s independence?
Maju Secondary was also one of the few French centres set up in 1978 to allow students to take up French as their second or third language. The centre was closed in 1983.
Mount Vernon Secondary School (Potong Pasir/MacPherson)
Closed in 1990/1991 (verification needed)
The school was opened in 1969 but was never known to produce excellent academic results until one of its deaf pupils appeared on the news for topping the two Secondary 5 classes for GCE “O” level in 1986. Having received extra coaching from a resource teacher who could do signs and lip reading, Mount Vernon was one of the few normal schools then that accepted handicapped (or in this case, mute-deaf) students. They had as many as 50 students with such disabilities in 1986.
The school was also the first and only one then to represent Singapore in a United Nations’ peace project.
To join Mount Vernon Secondary’s Alumni Facebook page (closed group), click here.
Sang Nila Utama Secondary School (Aljunied)
Closed in 1988
The school was the first Malay-medium secondary school established in Singapore and the third secondary school built after Singapore achieved self-government in 1959. Named after Sang Nila Utama, the Prince of Palembang who was believed to be the founder of Singapura, it was officially opened in 1961. The opening of the secondary school was seen as the most significant milestone in the development of Malay education in Singapore since the establishment of the first Malay primary school at Telok Blangah in 1856.
Following the Ministry of Education’s decision to phase out all non-English-medium pre-university centres by 1981, Sang Nila Utama Secondary School stopped accepting pre-university students at the beginning of 1979. The existing pre-university Malay stream classes were transferred to Bartley Secondary School. The school intake of Malay-stream secondary classes also suffered a decline over the years. By 1984, only two classes remained, with an enrolment of 37 students. The school building served as temporary accommodation for the nearby Cedar Girls’ Secondary School when the latter’s school building was undergoing renovation. The building currently houses the Gurkha Contingent.
(History lifted from NLB)
Kallang Primary School (Mountbatten)
Closed/Merged into Guillemard West Primary School in 1987 (verification needed)
Founded in the 1960s, the school was formerly known as Kallang Integrated Primary School – a merged school between Kallang Government Chinese Primary School and Kallang English School.
It had a very remarkable principal (Mrs Molly Chan, transferred to Swiss Cottage Primary in 1983) who pioneered the Care, Save and Share programme “to save many innocent children from going astray”. You can read snippets of her interview here. Principals like her who tries to build rapport with staff and students are hard to come by these days..
Beng Wan Primary School (Kallang)
Merged into Bendemeer Primary School in 2004
The school (秉文小学) started functioning in 1977 with pupils from Griffiths Primary, Beatty Primary, Balestier Boys’ School, Balestier Girls’ School, Balestier Primary and Kwong Avenue schools. At the same year, Bendemeer Secondary functioned at Beng Wan’s building for three months before it shifted to its new building. Beng Wan Primary was also where the first Hindi classes (organised by the Pro-Tem Hindi Committee to look into the study of Hindi in Singapore) were conducted.
The main Beng Wan Primary Facebook page is locked so I am unable to retrieve information from there. To join, click here.
Jaya Primary School (Bedok)
Closed in 1998
Opened in 1984 when a growing emphasis was placed upon the use of English, Jaya Primary was as an English-medium school which offered Chinese, Malay and Tamil languages just like any other schools today. However even before the school was officially opened, there were feedback about the inconvenience of the school for it was located near light industries and away from the major portion of the residential area. There were also no direct bus service to the school. Could all these be the reasons for its closure?
Anyway, it’s quite common for primary schools in the past to have a mini “zoo” within the school compound. For Jaya, they had 2 geese named Ganda and Gandi which were, according to some ex-students, killed by some thieves who broke into the school.
Sadly, the school had a really short history. Its remaining students were received by East Coast Primary School when it closed.
Bedok North Primary School (Bedok)
Merged into East Coast Primary School in 2001
One of the many primary schools in Bedok (quite evident from this post and the last), this school was established in 1980 and was the first of the new generation schools to be built in Bedok North HDB estate. It however received poor enrolment even when registration first started, probably due to the excessive number of new schools (way too many if you ask me) built in the same area at the same time and stiff competition from other popular schools. Like Jaya Primary, it was pretty short-lived and was also absorbed by East Coast Primary upon its closure.
Bedok Town Primary School (Bedok)
Merged into Telok Kurau Primary School in 2001
The small school started in 1982. 19 years later, it got merged with Telok Kuraru Primary. The land that used to sit Bedok Town Primary is now an open field. Right beside that plot of land is Bedok Town Secondary, also closing by the end of 2015.
Bedok South Primary School
Bedok View Primary School (Bedok)
Merged in 2002 to form Bedok Green Primary School
Officially opened in 1981 (but started accepting students in 1980), Bedok South was the second (newer?) primary school built in Bedok. The school was recognised for its exemplary performance in sports – soccer in particular – as it won in an inter-school soccer match against schools from all over Singapore in the 1980s. One of their players was Nordin Khalil, who got selected to play in the national soccer team.
Bedok View was opened in 1977 and was joined by students from Pin Ghee High School at Chai Chee, and Bedok Primary when both schools closed in 1976 and 1996 respectively. It shifted from the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Bedok South Avenue 3 (now Katong School run by Association for Persons with Special Needs since 2007) to Bedok South Avenue 2.
Local actress Priscelia Chan attended Bedok View Primary.
Fun fact: Including schools that were closed previously, there are more than 20 schools bearing the name “Bedok”. They include Bedok North Primary, Bedok North Secondary, Bedok Primary, Bedok South Primary, Bedok South Secondary, Bedok Town Primary, Bedok Town Secondary, Bedok View Primary, Bedok View Secondary, Bedok West Primary, Bedok Girls’ School and Bedok Boys’ School. All of these schools experienced receiving letters and calls addressed to other schools at least once. Well, you can’t really blame the postman. Being someone who rarely travels to the east, I am genuinely confused either. [Source]
Min Xin Primary School (Bedok)
Merged into Yu Neng Primary School in 2003
Located next to Yu Neng Primary (which made merging so convenient), Min Xin was started in early 1960’s by a group of Chinese businessmen to promote Chinese education in Singapore. It was originally at Jalan Bumbun Utara (also in Bedok) and called Bin Sin Chinese School. In 1982, the school was taken over by the Government and the medium language was converted to English. It was also renamed to Min Xin Primary and relocated to Bedok North Street 3.
Min Xin Primary, I believe, is one of those schools that people can hardly remember today. This is not surprising considering that when you try Googling its name, “Xinmin Primary” shows up in the results instead. No, they are not affiliated to each other.
Today its premises are occupied by the Rumah Kebajikan Muhammadiyah (RKM) or Muhammadiyah Welfare Home for the youth and children.
(History quoted from ex-student Mohamed Ridhwan)
Ping Yi Primary School (Bedok)
Merged into Fengshan Primary School in 2001
Did you know that prior to the construction of Ping Yi Primary (unable to find when), that land was dedicated to a cemetery? I know, everyone says something similar about their schools and there’s indeed no concrete evidence to this hearsay, but there are quite a number of spooky stories about Ping Yi Primary floating around on the net. So whether you believe it or not, it’s up to you. 😀
The merged school is now functioning at the new school built at Bedok North Rd (former Ping Yi Primary Site). Part of the Ping Yi’s building has also been demolished and converted into Fengshan’s school field.
Telok Kurau Malay Girls’ School
Telok Kurau West School (Bedok)
Merged in 1983 to form Telok Kurau West Primary School
Merged with Telok Kurau East School in 1985 to form Telok Kurau Primary School
Merged with Bedok Town Primary School in 2001 to form Telok Kurau Primary School
As you can see, the Telok Kurau Primary we have today is actually an amalgamation of several schools – Telok Kurau Malay Girls (formed 1960), Telok Kurau West (formed 1692), Telok Kurau English School (formed 1926, later renamed to Telok Kurau East School in 1962) and lastly, Bedok Town Primary schools (read history above). Our Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was an ex-student of Telok Kurau English School – a fact that the school today boasts about. A lot.
Telok Kurau Malay Girls’, as the name suggests, is a Malay medium primary school. On the other hand, Telok Kurau West and English schools had their lessons conducted mainly in English and they only admitted boys until the former changed its name and both schools merged.
Woodsville Primary School (Geylang)
Merged into MacPherson Primary School in 2002
The school was officially opened in 1979 at the junction of Jalan Kolam Ayer and Aljunied Road (near to housing estates but it was very congested) and was the second school to be opened that year.
In 1987, the school adopted an unusual programme to instill a sense of responsibility among its students, and foster goodwill among the teachers. This programme included a free-wheeling book system where students could pick up books and keep them for as long as they wanted without having to step into the library and going through any formal lending procedures. On top of that, (now here’s the interesting part) teachers were encouraged to “adopt” students from broken families by giving them pocket money, buying them books or supplying them uniforms. According to the principal, the scheme worked but whoa, if it were to be devised today, I’m pretty sure it would backfire. Haha.
During the same period, the school also had a discipline master (Mr Clifford Oliveiro) who was also an accomplished musician. Every week when teachers were having contact time, the students had to read their storybooks until the meeting ended. To save the entire school from boredom, Mr Oliveiro would go on stage with his guitar and strum to a variety of songs (e.g. El Condor Pasa, Those Were The Days) that got the whole school singing. The school’s winning of their first SYF Gold Award was probably attributed to the frequent singing “practices” the students had.
(While writing this portion of text, I had the sudden urge to listen to songs by Simon and Garfunkel (I’m an oldie junkie, remember?). If you’re feeling the same, you can listen to them on Spotify hehe)
What an incredibly cool school!!
Woodsville Secondary School (Geylang)
Merged into MacPherson Secondary School in 2004
A quick search on the school’s name online would reveal that the school (formed in 1977) was pretty adroit at sports. It had a swimmer (Sandy Ang) who created Singapore track history when he became the first schoolboy to smash the 22-second barrier in the 200-metre relay in 1984. Even famous local blogger Bong Qiuqiu, also an old girl from Woodsville, was part of the school’s netball team. There are also reports of the school participating in various sports competition such as basketball, badminton and gymnastics.
Official Facebook page here.
Tanjong Rhu Boys’ School
Tanjong Rhu Girls’ School
Tanjong Rhu Primary School (Kallang)
Merged in 1984 to form Tanjong Rhu Primary School
Closed in 1989
Tanjong Rhu Boys’ was built in 1950 beside Tanjong Rhu Girls’, also formed in the same year. Boys would occasionally intrude into the girls’ side of the field, much to the displeasure of the staff from Tanjong Rhu Girls’.
Tanjong Rhu Primary already existed before both single-sex schools merged. It was a Chinese-based school until its enrolment started falling and eventually drove the school to become integrated (by having both Chinese and English based curriculum). After the merger, the amalgamated school occupied the grounds of Tanjong Rhu Boys’ and Girls’ while the original Tanjong Rhu Primary building was leased out. The school had been demolished to make way for Dunman High School.
I won’t comment much on the history of these three schools as there are other sites that have done so. These authors had first-hand experience and me paraphrasing what they wrote would seem like I’m discrediting them and disrespecting the schools. So please, click here and here for more information 🙂 These schools also have an (combined) active Facebook group.
Norfolk Primary School (Farrer Park)
Closed in 1984
Norfolk Primary and Cambridge Primary sat side by side thus it was only economical to share the same field (which was also where the rivalry between both schools began). Norfolk’s year of establishment is not known.
Flooding was a commonplace in the olden days of Singapore. Norfolk and Cambridge (below) were badly affected on several occasions.
When Norfolk shut its doors in 1984, students were conveniently transferred to Cambridge Primary.
Cambridge Primary School (Farrer Park)
Closed in 1998
Cambridge Primary (est. 1963) and Norfolk Primary have similar history. There used to be a tidbit stall just opposite both schools and students usually flocked there to buy shaved ice. A room on the second level of Cambridge Primary was dedicated to caning students (that’s what one person said.. haha) while the most feared dental room was on the ground floor. According to most people who studied there, there used to be a well-liked Eurasian principal called Mr Dragon who unfortunately passed away in the 1980s.
Cambridge was also one of the few schools in Singapore to have their school song entirely in Malay.
In 1993, the school came first in an Art Olympiad. Beating 33 schools and 99 other pupils, the triumph brought much glory to the school. The event was even reported on a Chinese newspaper!
The rest of its students joined May Primary School which is now known as Farrer Park Primary School. The site of Cambridge is now a foreign student dormitory.
Owen School (Farrer Park)
Closed in 1988
The school started in 1955. People who are aware of the 2 missing “McDonald’s” boys in 1986 would most probably know about this school as well, because those two boys studied there and disappeared before just their class commenced. Not a very glamorous thing to be remembered and known for, especially when the school was already on the brink of closure.
Owen School didn’t have a multi-purpose hall, so students had to sit on the grass field during assembly. When it poured, the playful ones would take the opportunity to catch earthworms and red ants on the field.
The school was at the junction of Owen Road and Oxford Road. The ill-fated Hotel New World (collapsed in 1986) was just nearby along Owen Road.
Apart from the 2 missing Primary 6 boys, there were of course other famous alumni as well, the most well-known being Singapore Democratic Alliance Party’s Desmond Lim (you may remember him as the one who spoke at the SDA’s online rally last January).
Cambridge Primary absorbed the students of Owen Primary when the latter closed. The building of Owen School remained on the ground for decades until it was finally torn down in July this year. At one point it was converted into “Cambridge International Hostel”.
Dorset Primary School (Newton/Farrer Park)
Closed after 1980 (exact year unknown)
The last in the Farrer Park cluster of primary schools I’m going to talk about. While researching on this school, I found myself getting limited information for “Dorset Primary School” but a lot more when I removed the “Primary” from it. Dorset School, according to an article, was an all-boys school originally named Dorset Road School and established in 1954. But I actually read an ex-student’s account about it being a mixed school (plus all the Dorset Primary photos from NAS have girls in them)! Did Dorset start accepting female students along the way? I don’t know.
Anyway, there’s no reports about its official closure but it could be in 1981 when Catholic High took over the premises of Dorset School completely. Students from Dorset were given the option to transfer to CHS Primary or to other schools but I saw that a lot of Dorset kids went to Cambridge instead. Whatever it is, the facts for this school are a little contradictory so it would be good if more ex-students could come forward and verify the facts.
The school was formed around the same time as Owen School. However, Dorset proved to be the more popular choice as it received more applicants than its vacancies. But the popularity obviously didn’t last.
Ang Mo Kio Primary housed its Primary 1 students at Dorset Primary School for the first three months of its opening in the late seventies while waiting for their own building to be completed.
Ex-students who are interested to join Dorset Primary’s Facebook group can request permission to do so here.
Parry Secondary School
Hwi Yoh Secondary School (Serangoon)
Merged in 1984 to form Peicai Secondary School
Parry Secondary was formed in 1966 and officially opened in 1968 (first batch in 1969) at Parry Avenue. The school uniform, considered “smart” at that time, comprised of a compulsory school tie where students had to pin the school badge on, a white shirt with light green skirt that had two inverted pleats in front complete with a belt made from the same cloth as the skirt. That’s for the girls, of course. For the boys, I’m not too sure, but pictures suggest that the white top could be paired with white shorts (no long pants – that’s only for prefects!).
It offered Normal and Technical subjects (students were allowed to choose between the two freely). The subjects offered in Normal stream were Geography, Literature, Maths, General Science, Biology, Chinese and Domestic Science (kind of like our present Home Economics). Domestic Science was offered as an “O” level subject. Technical subjects were purely related to carpentry working on machinery.
The school had an exhibition of creations made with paper and wood with Serangoon Garden Secondary in 1980, 3 years before its closure.
After it closed, Rosyth School moved to the site of Parry Secondary due to space constraints in its previous premises.
Hwi Yoh Secondary was completed in 1967 and it admitted its first students in 1968. It was the 103rd school built by the then-government and was judged the cleanest secondary school in the inter-school cleanliness competition in 1971. The school was a centralised workshop catering for students from nine schools due to its availability of facilities for the studies of technical and academic subjects in the English and Chinese medium.
Like Parry Secondary, Hwi Yoh actively participated in extramural activities.
In 1982 however, the school’s Principal Mrs Jillian Scully took her own life together with the rest of her family at their home. It was speculated that she, together with their two young children, was coerced by her husband Victor Scully, a swindler who was close to be arrested and jailed for the second time, to do so.
Both schools merged and Peicai Secondary was born, but how did the name Peicai come about? Apparently, Parry in Hanyu Pinyin was “Peili” while Hwi Yoh was “Xicai”. The new name was derived by fusing the head and the tail of the two names in Hanyu Pinyin. The merger, as expected, was a result of falling enrolment and population shifts to new town and these two schools were the only secondary schools that merged that year. Today, Peicai Secondary is located at Serangoon Avenue 4.
Charlton School (Kovan)
Merged into Xinghua Primary School in 2003
Charlton took in its first batch of students in 1954 and was temporarily housed at Serangoon English Afternoon School because its own building at Arazoo Avenue was not ready for occupation yet. The school was remembered by students to have a little gardening area where pupils could cultivate some flowers and plant some common vegetables. It was also there where students got to interact with one another from different classes.
There is no Facebook group for Charlton except for this which has only 53 likes but the admin doesn’t really post much school-related stuff. Time to start reconnecting with your ex-schoolmates, Charltonians! What do you say? 🙂
Parry Primary School (Kovan)
Merged into Xinghua Primary School in 2007
Among the primary schools in Kovan in the 1980s were Parry Avenue Boys’ School, Parry Avenue Girls’ School and Parry Ave Government Chinese Middle School (co-ed) which were set up in the mid-late 1950s. All three schools merged in 1981 to become the new Parry Primary School, using the blocks of the parent schools (thus had three canteens). They were labelled blocks A, B and C and were former Parry Avenue Boys’ School, Parry Avenue Girls’ School and Parry Chinese School respectively. Each block hosted different levels of classes – Block A housed the primary threes and sixes, Block B for the primary ones and twos and Block C for the primary fours and fives.
Think that you’ve seen the field before somewhere? Well, you had probably seen it on TV in the late 90’s/early 2000s (thanks Tammi!):
Blast to the past: check out 00:26 to 00:34 of Kit Chan’s Royal Umbrella commercial!
The new Parry Primary became one of the first two primary schools in 1981 to go full day (meaning being lessons to function from 7.30am to 2.30pm or 3.00pm depending on the level and thereafter, students would proceed with their ECAs. Of course, homework was lessen and teaching became more laxed) but the programme wasn’t well-received and was eventually scrapped in 1983.
Students there wore blue uniform.
Along Parry Avenue lay a Japanese cemetery, several private and abandoned houses. There were also factories nearby. The school building now is vacant. Previously it was used as a student hostel.
One of Parry’s ex-students is 97.2fm DJ Violet Fenying.
Jalan Kayu Primary School (Sengkang)
Closed in 1988
Most schools in the past were named after the street the building was built on (you should already be able to tell by now). Jalan Kayu Primary was no different. Built in 1955 and officially opened in 1958, it was named as such due to its locality. Jalan Kayu is Malay for “Wood Road” but colloquially, “Kayu” is used to describe someone stupid. Thus, Jalan Kayu Primary’s students often get teased.
… whenever I say I am from Jalan Kayu (Primary), people reply “Then you must be kayu (dimwitted).”
– 11 year-old Zhang Yijin who was the first student in the school to score 4 A stars in the 1987 PSLE
The school started with every class filled to capacity. Students generally were children of farmers shopkeepers, and technicians and labourers employed by the R.A.F. (Royal Air Force). The school first experienced a dip in enrolment in the early Seventies when people started moving out of the area to other satellite towns.
Jalan Kayu Primary (JKPS) has 2 conflicting years of cessation. According to the history of Ang Mo Kio Primary, they were joined by pupils and teachers from JKPS in 1978. However a 1989 article from The Straits Times indicated that the school was only closed in 1988. Not sure which to believe, but I’m sure a national newspaper is a more reliable source. The school is now submersed beneath the TPE (Tampines Expressway).
Cantonment School (Tanjong Pagar)
Merged in 1984 to form Keppel Primary School
Closed in 1996
Keppel and Cantonment were established in 1954 and situated next to each other without a barrier separating them. Despite that, students were not allowed to cross over to other side. Prior to having their own buildings, students from both schools temporarily accommodated in Gan Eng Seng School.
The schools were named after the busy roads of Keppel and Cantonment. The noise of traffic using Cantonment Road was so loud that classes had to be conducted using microphone. The government even considered resitting both schools as their sites were uncondusive for learning.
The merged school had a very accomplished band having won several Gold awards. The school also used to conduct lessons at the nearby Yan Kit Swimming Complex. According to an old student, when news about the merger broke, both schools had a swimming competition to determine the name of the school. Cantonment School eventually won but they were kind enough to let Keppel keep its name. Interesting! But this arrangement looks too informal to be true. Can anyone confirm this? Haha.
The old Cantonment School is not to be confused with the present Cantonment Primary School (established in 2011 at Cantonment Close). The merged school became offices for the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau until 2004. Now, the building is used by private businesses as offices.
By the end of 1996, Keppel Primary closed its doors and its remaining students joined Zhangde Primary.
Labrador Primary School (Pasir Panjang)
Closed in 1988
Established in 1961 at Pasir Panjang Road, the four-storey school accommodated students of four streams – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Most of the students seem to be of Malay descent though, judging from the pictures and conversation posted on their Facebook page.
The school closed because of falling enrolment and its 172 pupils were transferred to Jagoh Primary. The campus was then used by Singapore Polytechnic for its Business Administration course to meet the increased demand for places in the course. Today, it houses Bayanihan Centre (training centre for Philippines association).
Jagoh Primary School (Telok Blangah)
Closed in 1999
The school was established in 1985, officially opened in 1987 but closed about 14 years later after not offering Primary One places since 1998. That’s a very short survival duration. I don’t get it though.. why build another school when the one nearby (Labrador Primary) was already suffering from declining enrolment?
There used to be a Kampong Jagoh Primary School in the late 1960s too. However I am not sure if both schools were related.
After 1999, students were transferred to Blangah Rise Primary School.
The site where Jagoh Primary used to stand is now Telok Blangah MRT station.
Yuqun Primary School (Jurong East)
Merged into Yuhua Primary School in 2002
Formally known as Joo Koon Public School at Jurong Road, Yuqun Primary shifted to Jurong East Street 24 in 1984 and was officially opened in 1986. It was originally set up by a Chinese businessman (same history as Joo Hwa Public School – now known as Yuhua Primary) in the 1930s but was destroyed during the Japanese occupation. It was rebuilt after the war and subsequently became a government-aided school in 1950.
Since its closure, its premises have been used as a holding site for schools undergoing PRIME such as Dazhong Primary and St. Anthony’s Primary (presently there until December 2014). You are still able to see the building if take the Jurong East-bound or Marina Bay-bound trains along the North-South line as its somewhere between Jurong East and Bukit Batok stations.
Pandan Primary School (Jurong East/Teban Gardens)
Merged into Fuhua Primary School in 2008
The school was established in 1981 at West Coast Road. It used to be a popular choice among parents living in that area because of its convenience and good teaching facilities.
There was a drain that led to the school compound and latecomers often sneaked in through that secret passage without getting caught (oops, secret exposed!). It has now been barricaded.
Boon Lay Primary School (Jurong East)
Merged into Jurong Primary School in 2006
Boon Lay Primary started out as Boon Lay Lama Primary at Old Jurong Road in 1960 before it shifted to Jurong East in 1984.
Here’s a more detailed description of the old Boon Lay Lama Primary:
Across the school there was a row of shop houses. There were two entrances into the school. One entrance was next to the girls’ toilet and the other was the main one that leads to the administration and staff, and principal office. There were two rows of buildings that housed all classes. In between the rows, there were at least two small open fields that used for assembly and as a playground. There were three verandas with roof that connect these buildings. To the west, a large football field which was fenced with metal wire and some tall trees along its parameter. The fence separates the Chinese school and ours. The whole school was fenced, once go in there, nobody could escape or leave without authorized permission. One end of the building was the canteen (a.k.a tuckshop) to the north, the boys’ toilet, next was the girls’ toilet. The other side of building was the school keeper’s house
– Extracted from David Yon’s description on the Boon Lay Primary’s Facebook Group
The new Boon Lay Primary produced some of the best national talents such as 10-year-old Loh Xiao Wei who beat 12 other aspirant chess players to win the girls’ National Schools Junior Individual Chess Championship under-10 Championship. She also became the youngest female winner at the 1994 National Championship. Hence, the school was widely known for being strong in chess. The spotlight was shone on the school again in 2004 as Primary 6 pupil Siti Nur Alyssyah emerged as champion among primary and secondary school students in a public speaking competition.
With such exceptional performance, no one would have expected the school to close. In fact, it was also slated to be upgraded by 2007 according to a 2003 report. So what exactly happened?
Anyway, it is also worth noting that our very first Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah attended Boon Lay Primary too 🙂
Jubilee Primary School (West Coast)
Merged into Qifa Primary School in 1996
Opened in 1967 at Bukit Timah, it was an integrated school using English and Malay as the media of instruction. It was later merged with Jubilee Malay School in 1983 when English education became more popular with parents, and the school relocated to the latter’s site at West Coast.
In 1996, the school closed with impressive PSLE results with a pass rate of 94% and out of which, 76% of them were qualified for the Express stream. Jubilee was the first school to merge with Qifa Primary (the second was Jin Tai Primary, as mentioned in my first entry).
If you are an alumni, do join Jubilee Primary’s Facebook page that has over 900 members to date.
Buona Vista Secondary School (Commonwealth)
Merged into Queensway Secondary School in 2001
The school opened its doors to pupils in 1967 and was originally known as Chip Bee Secondary (named after the estate). However, the name was changed to what it was last known as on the eve of its official opening in 1968. It was one of the three government schools then which conducted classes in English, Chinese and Malay streams. In the 1970s, the school band joined forces with Tanglin Secondary School band and won several awards.
Digress: As I was trying to get more information about this school, I stumbled upon at least two news reports on its students’ suicide. First was a student who plunged into Jurong Lake because she failed her GCE in 1973 while the other took poison after the school principal reproved her for playing truant in 1971.
I mean no disrespect but sigh, why is student suicidal so common last time? It’s so depressing. But I’m glad students are more sensible today (I hope). Remember, life isn’t a joke.
The building of Buona Vista Secondary is now occupied by Anglo-Chinese School (International).
Queensway Secondary also absorbed Mei Chin Secondary, which closed in 2000.
Margaret Drive Primary School (Queenstown)
Closed in 1986
The school was formed at a low cost in 1958 with just 17 classrooms, an office and a tuckshop. Over the years, more new and better-equipped schools were built and parents preferred to send their schools elsewhere. With that, the enrolment of Margaret Drive Primary fell and the school closed after 28 years of service.
Not long after Margaret Drive Primary was demolished, a new building was constructed for Margaret Drive Special School for autistic children. The special school was then renamed to Rainbow Center.
Margaret Drive Primary was legally known as Margaret Drive School, but I choose to include “Primary” to avoid confusion due to the ambiguity in its name.
Kebun Baru Primary School (Ang Mo Kio)
Merged into Ang Mo Kio Primary School in 2002
The school was the last primary school built for Ang Mo Kio residents in 1985. With the completion of the 188th school built by the government, no more new school were constructed for children in Kebun Baru constituency and the surrounding private residential estates around Yio Chu Kang and Thomson Hills.
It started functioning with an enrolment of 320 students in eight Primary One classes and 11 teachers and lessons were originally held at the now-defunct Li Hua Primary School.
The building is now a holding site for Anderson Primary School which is also a merged school (refer to my previous entry for its history).
Midfielder Fabian Kwok was a student of Kebun Baru Primary.
Chong Boon Primary School (Ang Mo Kio)
Merged into Da Qiao Primary School in 2000
The school was built in 1980 and used to stand side-by-side at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 with Chong Li and Anderson Primary schools. Prior to that, it was known as Chong Boon School in Lorong Kinchir at Braddell and was there since the 1940s. Not sure why it shifted in the end but the school was given an eviction notice in 1956 by the new landlord. It wouldn’t take three decades for the school to move so I guess they eventually succeeded in preventing the notice from being enforced.
The building has been refurbished to accommodate more students from Pathlight School.
Chong Li Primary School (Ang Mo Kio)
Merged into Teck Ghee Primary School in 2003
Chong Li Primary began in the late 1940s as Chong Lip Chinese School, located off Upper Thomson Road. The school catered to children living in villages that area. It became a government school later on and was officially opened again in 1983 (the school started in 1981), holding classes in the old premises of Braddell Secondary School. As its student population grew bigger, it shifted again to 4 Ang Mo Kio Street 44.
Female students from Chong Li before the 90’s would don in sleeveless blue polka dot blouse with a blue ribbon attached to the middle of collar. But it was later phased out and replaced by a shirt with sewn-on badge to resemble the boys’ attire which remained unchanged throughout the years.
Chong De Primary School (Ang Mo Kio)
Closed in 1998
The $4.28-million school was ready for occupation in 1982 but it started accepting students in 1981, who had lessons at neighbouring Ang Mo Kio North Primary and then at Chong Shan Primary School before moving to their own building. Chong De was the 12th primary school constructed in Ang Mo Kio.
Its remaining students joined Chong Shan Primary School again after its closure. Townsville Primary now sits on the former site of Chong De Primary.
And yes, I’m equally puzzled by the number of schools in Ang Mo Kio with names beginning with “Chong”. Was it a coincidence? Schools in Ang Mo Kio bearing “Chong” in its name were: Chong Boon Primary, Chong Li Primary, Chong De Primary, Chong Shan Primary and Chong Boon Secondary.
Heng A Khe Bong School (Toa Payoh)
Closed in 1993
Heng A Khe Bong School was an amalgamation between two Chinese primary schools in the vicinity of Telok Ayer. They were Heng A School (est. 1918) and Khe Bong School (est. 1920). As the schools were poorly equipped and the population around the area was diminishing, the enrolments in both schools declined steadily. Thus, the management committees of both schools launched a fund-raising project for the construction of a new school in a populated area. Both schools merged and relocated to Toa Payoh New Town in 1971. It was officially opened in 1975.
Thanks to a donation, the school was the first primary school in Singapore to own a computer.
MacRitchie Primary School (Toa Payoh)
Closed in 1997
Founded in 1976 and officially opened in 1977, it was located at the modest town of Toa Payoh. It was situated beside an old wet market along Lorong 8, where the school’s main gate overlooked Blk 225 Toa Payoh. The school began as an integrated school comprising 38 English medium classes and 8 Chinese medium classes. The majority of the English medium students and teachers came from Whitley Primary School which closed in 1975. The other group of Chinese medium stream students were from Nam Ann Primary School which also closed in the same year.
The school shared the same field as Braddell Primary School and typically, students from both schools would fight with one another.
Dr Koh Poh Koon, a PAP candidate for Punggol East in the 2013 General Election, attended MacRitchie Primary. Other alumni include music composer and singer Azmeer, national footballer Rezal Hassan, Artist-Scriptwriter-Producer Djohan ‘Bobo’ bin Abdul Rahman and Had Adnan from rock band Rancour.
Upper Serangoon Secondary School (Toa Payoh)
Merged into First Toa Payoh Secondary School in 2004
Located at 279 Upper Serangoon Road, it was previously known as Upper Serangoon Technical School (USTS). USTS officially opened in 1966 to offer technical education for the Malay-medium students. I am not sure if UTST relocated when it was renamed, but my intuition tells me that it could be.
Stamford American International School now stands on the former ground of Upper Serangoon Secondary.
Yam Ah Mee (you may remember him as the one who delivered the results of the 2011 and 2013 General Elections) attended USTS.
East Payoh Secondary School (Toa Payoh)
Closed in 1998
The school was completed in 1975 and declared open in 1976 along Lorong 7 of the Kim Keat Constituency which was part of the large Toa Payoh estate. It was the 114th school built by the government. The four-storey building offered general and technical education in the English medium for both sexes.
After it closed, its remaining students were transferred to Pei Dao Secondary School (renamed to Punggol Secondary in 2001 when it shifted from Toa Payoh to its current site at, duh, Punggol). Pei Chun Public School now occupies the land that East Payoh Secondary once stood on.
And joining this list with effect from 2016 will be…
Tanglin Secondary School
Clementi Woods Secondary School (West Coast)
To merge in 2016 (name to be advised)
I have covered both schools in my previous history post. Please use ctrl+F (Windows) or cmd+F (Mac) to lead you to the relevant sections.
First Toa Payoh Secondary School (Toa Payoh)
Bartley Secondary School (Bartley)
To merge in 2016 to form the new Bartley Secondary School
First Toa Payoh Secondary was the first secondary school built to cater to the secondary school population of Singapore’s first satellite town, Toa Payoh. Established in 1975 and officially opened in 1979, it was an integrated school offering both English and Chinese. In 2001, it merged with Thomson Secondary and Pei Dao Secondary, and Upper Serangoon Secondary in 2004. In 2003, it relocated to its new campus with better facilities.
Bartley, the first co-ed secondary school in Singapore, was formed in 1952. However it became a boys’ school in the secondary section (the school had a pre-University level until 1996) when the girls were transferred to Cedar Girls’ School to form the school. It became co-ed again in 1995. It moved to a holding site (former Mount Vernon Secondary) while waiting for its present building to be completed in 1995.
The merged school will function at the site of Bartley Secondary.
Bedok Town Secondary School (Bedok)
To merge into Ping Yi Secondary School in 2016
Established in 1965 (the year Singapore gained independence) as Kaki Bukit Secondary School, it provided education in the English and Malay media to children living in what was once a rural area of Singapore. Their school song “Sekolah Menengah Kaki Bukit” was written by Mr Zubir Said, the same person that composed our national anthem. Between 1965 and 1984, the school attained the status of a top Malay medium school with good results in the Malay medium GCE ‘O’ level examination. In addition, the school had also established a reputation for excellence in sports and games such as Sepak Takraw, football, hockey, athletics and cross country.
What an accomplished school, don’t you think? What a pity that it has to go, together with its school song that was written by a legendary person 😦
It also merged with Chai Chee Secondary School (previously Sennett Road Secondary) in 2011. When news of the merger broke out, both schools had an online brawl. Hopefully it won’t happen again between Bedok Town and Ping Yi!
Chestnut Drive Secondary School (Bukit Panjang)
To merge into Fajar Secondary School in 2016
One of the first secondary schools set up after Singapore gained independence, the school catered to the education and development needs of the children in the Hillview, Woodlands, Teck Whye and Bukit Batok areas. It was established in 1968 and declared opened in 1969. It is the 105th school built by the government.
In 2005, the school was reported to be a target of an unidentified sniper with six shots fired. The latest incident damaged a windowpane on the third floor of the school. The shooting was believed to have happened during non-school hours in a duration of three months thus no one was hurt. However the police later established that there was “insufficient evidence to suggest the presence of a sniper, and that no air gun pellets or projectiles had been found at the school.” Till date, the cause of the damage to the windowpane remains a mystery.
Come 2016, Chestnut Drive Secondary will merge into Fajar Secondary and will operate out of the latter’s upgraded campus from 2018. In the meantime, Chestnut Drive’s compound will serve as a holding site for the newly merged school, which will also retain Chestnut Drive’s Chinese name “Li Jing”.
I came across this school while choosing my secondary schools in Primary 6 (donkey years ago) and was undoubtedly amused by its name. I’m sure many people who are not familiar with the roads in Singapore would react the same. Apparently, the place Chestnut Drive EXISTS (it’s even part of its address, duh!) and many other roads in Bukit Panjang are actually named after nuts. For example, Cashew Road, Chestnut Drive, Almond Street and Hazel(nut) Park. There are even roads that are named after fruits! Read more here. It’s super intriguing! 🙂
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Thanks everyone for your warm support and contribution! I hope I have covered more schools this time around and help some of you trace back to your roots (like how I successfully did in my previous entry). Once again, due to the lengthiness of this post as well as time constraints, I can only cover this many. I will definitely be back with a third instalment (believe it or not, I have already compiled another list of closed and merged schools) but that won’t happen so soon as my new school term is commencing next Monday. It’ll probably be up in my next break in December. Meanwhile, if you enjoyed this post or if you find it useful in some ways, please feel free to share it with your peers! 🙂 Thanks for reading this record-breaking 9400-word essay!
Have a story to share about your decommissioned school? Let me know in the comments below! I may include that in my next write-up (in progress) 🙂 And as you can see, some schools mentioned above don’t come with pictures. That’s because I can’t find them online so if you have some pictures of your school, feel free to share them!
Ministry of Education (2008 Archive)
The Straits Times (2 January 1988, Page 10)
The Straits Times (11 August 1983, Page 10)
National Archives of Singapore
NewspaperSG (National Library Board)
Singapore Memory Portal
Facebook Pages of Schools
(In case some of these links become inaccessible, you may retrieve them through Archives.org)