Shanghai's education bureau said on Saturday that public and private primary schools will carry out admission procedures at the same time this year, which is hoped to ease the burden on students.
Applications will begin on a united digital system from April 26, when parents will have to decide whether to apply for public or private primary schools at the very beginning. Previously, students submitted applications for private schools and attended interviews first.
As usual, private schools are allowed to interview students while public schools will generally admit students from the locality without testing them.
On May 19 and 20, public schools will receive children's identification materials to verify their eligibility for admission, while private schools will interview applicants.
Those who fail to make it into a private school in this round will enter the second round and be distributed to public schools that still have vacancies.
The policy change is expected to ease parents' craze for private schools as under the previous system, more parents would ask their children to try their luck at the private schools first since it wouldn't influence their application for public ones. It also increased the burden on young students who spent a lot of time preparing for the interviews.
But now parents have to think twice about the risk as their children might miss the chance to enter a relatively good public school and be distributed to a less satisfying one.
It will also give fairer opportunities for public and private schools, according to Bian Songquan, principal of Dahushan Road No.1 Primary School. The previous admission practice was criticized for being unfair, to some extent, as private schools got to pick the top students first.
The application procedure for private middle schools will remain unchanged.