Did you make the move to Singapore recently? Looking for a school for your child? You might have heard of the rigorous school system here in Singapore and are weighing the options between a local or international school.
There is no doubt a lot to consider, as the type of school you choose can impact your child's emotional, mental and social development.
We at GET.com understand your dilemma and are here to help you with 3 key considerations to think about.
1. How Long Will You Stay In Singapore?
The length of your stay is a major factor to consider for the choice of school for your child.
If you are on a short term assignment and looking to stay in Singapore for less than three years, considering an international school might be your best bet, especially one that mirrors the education system back in your home country.
This will help your child to easily integrate back into your home country's school system when the time comes to go back home.
Choosing an international school also means that the school term follows what you have in your home country, making it an easier adjustment for your child.
In terms of social development, your child is likely to meet peers of the same nationality, encouraging them to feel more at home in a foreign land.
Because you are here for the short haul, keeping your child within a more familiar environment can help them to still feel rooted to their home and stay in touch with developments from your own country through interaction with other kids.
2. Do You Want To Expose Your Child To A Different Culture?
It is not unexpected to experience a culture shock when you arrive in a different country. Even some adults find it hard to adjust to a new environment – humidity, strict rules, Singlish, multi-cultural nation.
Putting your child in a local school can make going to school a frustrating experience, but it can also be very rewarding in helping them shape a stronger personality and making them more adaptive to change later on in life.
Increasingly, expats in Singapore are choosing local education over international schools. Why?
One of the key reasons stated by expats here is that it will help expose their child to other world views.
Because they will be surrounded by local peers, it will help them learn the local culture and habits and better integrate into society here. This is especially helpful if you are intending to stay in Singapore for a longer time.
While you may get social diversity in international schools, you can expect your kid's peers to be mostly from middle-upper class (and above) families as their parents will have to afford the expensive school fees.
This could put your child in a social bubble which does not allow them to mix with people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
The language is another attractive factor – Singapore follows a bilingual school system, and it can become a significant advantage for your child's future to be able to learn a second/third language.
Singapore's school system is much more stringent compared to international schools. We are known for our heavy profiling techniques by academic tests, a competitive environment and a relatively lower emphasis on arts and humanities.
It could prove to be a frustrating experience for both you and your child, but the difference in culture will perhaps help both child and parent to be more resilient in a new environment and even encourage bonding!
The cost of tuition can definitely be a huge concern when choosing a school. International school fees for primary and secondary school costs around $30,000- $40,000 per year, compared to around $10,000 for non-Asean students in local schools. Here you can see our list of the 20 most expensive preschools in Singapore.
That's a huge difference! The cost of school fees will be a key factor if school fees are not part of an expat package for you.
Choosing A Suitable International School For Your Child
If after considering the above factors you decide that going to an international school is a better option for your child, you can now move on to looking at the following 3 points which will help you qualify the schools in your selected list.
If you are intending to stay here for just a few years and plan to have your child go back to your home country's school system after that, choose a school that follows the curriculum back at home.
If not, a popular school programme to choose is the International Baccalaureate (IB) system which is recognised in many countries.
The IB system encourages students to think independently and be more culturally aware through the learning of a second language. The system is geared towards helping children to become more globalised citizens.
2. School Facilities
While most international schools in Singapore have great facilities, you might want to look for schools with specific infrastructure to cater to your child's interests.
For instance, if your child has been swimming competitively in your home country, you may want your child to continue doing this in Singapore.
Choosing a school with a swimming pool might be one of the ways to filter out unsuitable schools.
If your child loves performing arts, you might want your child to have access to an education with emphasis on that, and a school that comes with a well-equipped theatre.
3. School Life
There are no lack of international school choices in Singapore, but will the school support the needs of your child?
Do you want your child to be in a big school with students from all over the world or would you prefer one that provides a more intimate and familiar environment?
Some schools also offer more emphasis on a counselling or support system for children, providing a much needed outlet for kids who find themselves lost in a new country.
Top 10 International Schools In Singapore
There is an abundance of choices of international schools in Singapore, thanks to a growing expat community.
It's generally not difficult to get a place in the international schools since most Singaporeans go to local schools, at least at the primary level.
Here is GET.com's list of the top 10 Best International Schools (not in order of ranking) in Singapore:
1. Australian International School
The Australian International School offers an Australian curriculum-based global education for students from the age of 2 to 18 years old.
Education here begins with the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) from preschool (ages 2 to 4) to elementary school (years 1 to 5 for children aged 5 to 11).
Then there is the Australia Curriculum for years 6 to 8 (ages 12 to 14), Cambridge IGCSE in years 9 and 10 (ages 15 to 16), and the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB DP) for years 11 and 12 (ages 17 to 18).
Address: 1 Lor Chuan, Singapore 556818
2. Avondale Grammar School
Avondale Grammar School offers an Australian-based curriculum for children aged between 3 and 12 years old.
The school is comparatively smaller than other international schools in Singapore and prides itself on offering a small class size and a welcoming environment that helps families and children settle into life in Singapore quickly and smoothly.
Address: 318 Tanglin Rd, Phoenix Park, Singapore 247979
3. Canadian International School
The Canadian International School is one of the largest international schools in Singapore and has two campuses – Lakeside and Tanjong Katong.
The school is known for its excellent primary school programme and offers a bilingual programme as well.
The school also boasts a host of impressive facilities such as a performing and fine arts centre, 2 swimming pools, a huge gymnasium, 3 tennis courts and a competition-size soccer pitch.
Address: 7 Jurong West Street 41, Singapore 649414
Tanjong Katong Campus
Address: 371 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437128
4. Chatsworth International School
Established in Singapore since 1995, Chatsworth International School is a full IB three-programme school that offers IBDP, IBMYP and IBPYP.
The school provides international education for students in an English speaking environment and offers a number of education programmes.
Chatsworth International has four campuses - Chatsworth Orchard offers students of ages 3-18+ an education programme from Kindergarten to Year 13; Chatsworth East offers students of ages 3-10+ an education programme from Kindergarten to Year 10; Chatsworth Piccadilly and Chatsworth Bedok on the other other hand offers students of ages 2-6 an education programme from Pre-Nursery to Kindergarten 2.
At the Chatsworth Piccadilly and Chatsworth Bedok campuses, the schools run the local, Ministry of Education curriculum for the little ones.
Address: 37 Emerald Hill Road, Singapore 229313
Address: 25 Jalan Tembusu, Singapore 438234
Chatsworth Piccadilly (Kindergarten)
Address: 1 - 4 Piccadilly Circus, Singapore 797640
Chatsworth Bedok (Kindergarten)
Address: 350 Bedok Road , Singapore 469538
5. Hillside World Academy (Previously Chinese International School)
Recently renamed and re-branded as the Hillside World Academy, the school continues to uphold its vision to promote a learning environment that integrates both Eastern and Western values through the International Baccalaureate (IB) philosophy.
Students will receive an education that emphasises the dual use of Mandarin and English and is truly international.
The school is considered small compared to other schools with only one to two classes per grade, which also provides a smaller class environment that encourages more attention from the teacher to the student.
Address: Hillside World Academy, 11 Hillside Drive, Singapore 548926
6. EtonHouse International Education Group
EtonHouse international school has 13 schools throughout Singapore, offering education for children from pre-nursery to 16 years old.
EtonHouse schools aim to offer a inquiry-based programme where children are encouraged to become critical thinkers.
They also offer language classes in Mandarin, Japanese and Hindi.
EtonHouse 215 Upper Bukit Timah
Address: 215 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 588184
EtonHouse 681 Bukit Timah
Address: 681 Bukit Timah Road #01-03, Singapore 269782
Address: 1 Vanda Road Singapore 287771
Address: 15 Claymore Road, Singapore 229542
Address: 39 Newton Road Singapore 307966
Address: Robertson Walk, 11 Unity Street, #02-20, Singapore 237995
Address: 51 Broadrick Road, Singapore 439501
EtonHouse Mountbatten 223
Address: 223 Mountbatten Road , #01-18 , Singapore 398008
EtonHouse Mountbatten 717
Address: 717 Mountbatten Road, Singapore 437737
EtonHouse Mountbatten 718
Address: 718 Mountbatten Road, Singapore-437738
Address: 33 Allanbrooke Road, Sentosa, Singapore 099981
Address: 8 Thomson Lane, Singapore 297743
Address: Branch 1: No.7 Seraya Lane, Singapore 437275
7. German European School Singapore
The German European School in Singapore is a multi-lingual, not-for-profit, international school with a distinct European flavour.
It provides two school programmes – German and English (following the IB Programme). All students from pre-school to grade 10 learn these two languages which are taught at a variety of levels from beginner to native speaker.
The school presently provides education for over 1500 students from 18 months to 18 years old, split into 2 campuses – Jalan Jurong Kechil and Bukit Tinggi.
As the tenancy for the junior campus at Jalan Jurong Kechil will expire in 2017, the GESS is planning to build a new school in the Upper Bukit Timah area after 2017.
Kindergarten & Secondary School Campus
Address: 72 Bukit Tinggi Road, Singapore 289760
Parent-Child Groups, Toddler, Pre-Primary & Primary Campus
Address: 300 Jalan Jurong Kechil, Singapore 598668
UWC South East Asia is an international school with two campuses in Singapore providing students from 4-18 years old with a holistic and values-based education, leading to the IB Diploma in grade 12.
The school's mission is to "make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future".
The UWCSEA Dover campus will complete the final phase of a five-year campus redevelopment in December this year with the opening of the new High School building.
Address: 1207 Dover Road, Singapore 139654
Address: 1 Tampines Street 73, Singapore 528704
9. Singapore American School
SAS has the largest Advanced Placement (AP) programme outside of the United States and is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in the US.
The school is divided into three distinct divisions, comprising elementary school (preschool through grade 5), middle school (grades 6 through 8), and high school (grades 9 through 12).
The school also offers a summer semester in June to help students explore new learning paths not available during the regular school term.
The Summer Semester programme focuses on the child as a whole and presents learning opportunities in three distinct categories: intellectual curiosity, creative expression, sports and wellness.
While the school opens its door to all international students, there is a large majority of students from the American nationality (about 62% of the student population).
Address: 40 Woodlands Street 41, Singapore 738547
10. Tanglin Trust School
Tanglin Trust School Singapore has a long-established name here, providing a British-based education for children of nursery level till sixth-form college.
While the school's academic focus and approach to learning are firmly grounded in the rigorous English National Curriculum, there are many aspects of school life that have a global focus.
One of the advantages of Tanglin Trust School is that it offers the dual pathway of "A Levels" or IB Diploma at sixth form.
Address: 95 Portsdown Road, Singapore 139299
If you like the idea of putting your child in an international school, but are questioning the cost, take a look at our article which examines that issue: Is it worth it to put your child in a top school?