Cluster Schools in Malaysia


The establishment of cluster schools is contained in Chapter 9 of the Education Development Master Plan which was launched on 16 January 2006. Cluster schools are based on the second approach of the master plan, which is to develop the full potential of schools within the cluster of excellence whose mechanism is set out in the 6th strategic thrust, accelerating the excellence of educational institutions. Literature review indicates that the practice of grouping schools is practised in foreign countries to raise the quality of education. Such groupings are based on locality or excellence.


Cluster school is a brand given to schools identified as being excellent in its cluster from the aspects of school management and student achievement. The creation of cluster schools aims at accelerating school excellence within the Malaysian education system and developing schools that can be emulated by other schools in the same cluster and outside the cluster.


Cluster schools are established to accelerate the excellence of schools in the Malaysian education system.


Three committees are formed to implement the concept of cluster schools, namely:-

  • School Selection Committee - chaired by the Director-General of Education
  • Advisory Panel - chaired by Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Abdul Rahman Arshad
  • Implementation Committee - chaired by the Deputy Director-General of Education (School Division)

The implementation of cluster schools is based on the decentralisation process that involves the empowerment of schools through the provision of guided autonomy. Views of the stakeholders such as the Parent-Teacher Association, alumni, school leaders and teachers are taken into account in the implementation of cluster schools. They were directly involved in the Ministry of Education Cluster School Autonomy Workshop held on 19-20 March 2007. The Cluster School Advisory Panel will provide expertise to ensure the smooth implementation of the cluster schools.


The selection of cluster schools is made ​​based on the following clusters:

  • Primary schools comprising national schools, Chinese national type schools, Tamil national type schools and native schools
  • Secondary schools comprising fully residential schools, technical secondary schools, national religious secondary schools, regular secondary schools, premier schools, centennial schools, schools within Putrajaya and Cyberjaya and special model schools
  • Special education primary schools and special education secondary schools, and vocational special education secondary schools
  • International schools and private schools
  • Post-secondary institutions such as matriculation colleges and institutes of teacher education

Selection of schools must meet the following prerequisites and conditions:

First Prerequisite

  • Evaluation of school standard:
  • The school must be classified as at least excellent based on the Malaysian Education Quality Standard.

Second Prerequisite

  • Curriculum excellence (secondary school)
  • School average grades for PMR and SPM public examinations for 3 consecutive years:
  • Fully residential school: 2.5 and below
  • National religious secondary school: 3.0 and below
  • Technical secondary school: 4.0 and below
  • Regular secondary school: 4.0 and below
  • Curriculum excellence (primary school):
  • Regular primary school: 80% and above of students passed all subjects in UPSR, or
  • Increase in percentage of passes, or
  • UPSR school average grade: 2 and below

Selection Conditions

Student excellence in these aspects:

  • Academic
  • Co-curriculum
  • Character
  • Visionary and effective school management
  • Proper management of resource development which is used optimally
  • School leader with quality leadership
  • Effective teaching and learning management
  • Conducive school environment for human capital development
  • Effective implementation of MOE programmes
  • School with character

Schools that meet the prerequisites and conditions set forth above may submit an application. The selection procedure is as follows:

  • Step 1: Acceptance of nomination
  • Step 2: Evaluation using Malaysian Education Quality Standard instrument and Annex
  • Step 3: Standard fixing by Cluster School Implementation Committee
  • Step 4: Validation of the candidate in meeting on professional matters
  • Step 5: Candidates made known to Advisory Board
  • Step 6: Announcement by the Minister of Education


Leaders of cluster schools are:

  • Principals / head teachers (DG52/DGA 36)
  • Selected leaders who meet the criteria of an outstanding leader
  • Position: school-based post

Teachers of cluster schools:

  • Meet the criteria of an excellent teacher
  • Their performance will determine whether they remain in cluster schools.
  • Can obtain the service of experts according to the co-curricular niche area of the school on contract or part-time basis
  • Class to teacher ratio of 1:2

Cluster school student selection methods:

  • Cluster of fully residential schools, technical secondary schools and national religious secondary schools is maintained
  • In other clusters, the principal / head teacher is authorised to accept a small number of new students for the school’s niche area
  • School screening test

Accountability of school leaders is based on:

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Management of human and physical resources
  • Financial resources
  • Staff professionalism development
  • Effective curricular and co-curricular programmes
  • Quality school leavers: academic achievement, co-curriculum and character
  • Terms of reference for cluster schools

School Autonomy:
Schools are granted autonomy in the following forms:

  • General (for all schools)
  • Specific (according to school needs which are dependent on school type, studies and niche areas)

The autonomy granted is guided, which requires:

  • Compliance with the following standards:
  • Education Act 1996
  • National Education System
  • Financial Procedure Act 1957, treasury circulars and guidelines and newsletters
  • Malaysian Education Quality Standard

List of Autonomy Areas:

  • School management
  • Human resource management
  • Financial resource and physical resource management
  • Curriculum management and implementation
  • Co-curriculum management and implementation

Quality Assurance:
To ensure the quality standard of cluster schools is constantly improving, the quality assurance of cluster schools employs the external control mechanism and internal controls.

Role of Other Agencies
Cluster schools will extend the roles of the Parent-Teacher Association, board of governors, alumni and NGOs in terms of:

  • Scholarship
  • Financing / Funding
  • Academic Excellence Programme
  • Co-Curriculum Excellence Programme
  • Career Programme


Cluster schools will have a positive impact on the nation in terms of:

  • Co-Curriculum Excellence Programme
  • Career Programme
  • Holistic excellent students in the system: 5.8% of 5.2 million students
  • Cluster school leavers are accepted into renowned universities abroad
  • Corporate bodies and government agencies have the confidence to sponsor the education of cluster school leavers
  • Solid foundation to produce leading agents of change
  • 300 schools are recognised internationally (3.1% of 9663 schools)
  • A standard model for local and foreign schools
  • Quality leaders (3.1% of 9663 schools) and excellent teachers (6.9% of 350,000 teachers
  • Acceleration of the excellence of educational institutions in Malaysia