Wondering how to choose the right international school for your child in Singapore? We’ve got some of the country’s top educators and consultants to share their expert insight.
Choosing the right school for your child isn’t the easiest task – what more choosing one in a country you barely know? If you’re planning to move the family to Singapore but are unsure on how to start the school selection process, we have you covered! During our recent Honeycombers Webinar: How to choose an international school in Singapore, we’ve got experts from Singapore’s education industry to share their insight on international schools in Singapore. This includes tips on key things to consider when choosing a school, questions to ask during interviews, how to get a good sense of a school (even if you can’t visit it in person), and more.
Got a burning question and need the answer? Jump to the video section that’s relevant for you!
Speaker introductions – 1:20
How to get a good sense of the school if you can’t visit in person – 5:57
Waiting lists for student places at schools in Singapore – 9:48
Key things to consider when choosing a new school in a new country – 10:55
Differences between education in Hong Kong and Singapore – 15:55
How can parents tell if the school is right for them, their child, and family – 22:10
Key benefits of choosing Nexus International School (Singapore) – 24:01
Personal safety in a school setting in Singapore – 27:23
Importance of location when it comes to school search – 31:38
What can parents do to ease the transition for children when relocating – 34:52
Q & A – 37:37
Notebooks at the ready – we’ve got experts from Singapore’s education industry to answer all the burning questions you have about international schools in the Little Red Dot. Some questions that will be addressed include:-How do you get a good sense of the school if you can’t visit it in person?-What are some good questions to ask during interviews with the schools?-What are some of the key things to consider when choosing a new school in a new country?-How can you tell if the school is right for your child and your family?
Posted by HoneyKids Asia on Monday, May 30, 2022
How to choose an international school in Singapore: Insight from the experts
1. Identify school values that are important to you as a family
Explore your shortlisted schools’ websites and look at their values to see if they align with your own. Students spend most of their time in school, making it a place where they learn how to form opinions of their own as well as world views. As such, it’s important to choose a school that goes by the values that you and your family can relate to and agree with.
2. Look for an environment and culture in which your child will thrive in
Education isn’t just about what happens in the classroom, but also beyond it. Check your shortlisted schools to see if the facilities support your child’s passion and ambition. Ask to see if there are sufficient activities going on after school. Is there support for wellbeing, and does the school have counsellors who can help children navigate adolescence? These are all environmental factors that can affect your child’s academic and personal development.
3. Involve your child in the decision-making process
You may be confident that your chosen school ticks all the boxes, but ultimately, your child will be the one attending that school. Hence, they should have a say as well. In fact, their opinion should be the only one that matters. Involve them in the school selection process, shortlist the schools together with them, and get them to join the virtual and physical school tours so that they can gain a sense of the schools.
How to choose an international school in Singapore: Your questions, answered!
1. What are the most “adaptable” curricula, in the event that I will have to relocate again in five years?
Heather: The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum – be it Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) or IB Diploma Programme (DP) – focuses on skills that help students learn more effectively, which set them up well to tackle any future curriculum.
2. What are the differences between IB and the British curriculum? At what age is it best to move to an international school?
Heather: The IB curriculum focuses on enquiry, research, and application of knowledge; whereas the British curriculum is more focused on knowledge acquisition. It is relatively easy to transition to, or in between, international schools throughout primary school or the early years of secondary school. In the examination years, it is always better for children to start at the beginning of the two-year course.
3. What are some of the programmes offered by international schools in Singapore, and how are they different from those in Hong Kong?
Anne: There are about 90 international schools in Singapore, so parents have a variety of curricula to choose from, including: IB, UK, US, Indian, French, Australian, Japanese, German, and Singaporean. International schools in Singapore offer daily or weekly language classes in Mandarin, and there are a small number of schools that offer an immersive, bilingual education. In Hong Kong, Mandarin is offered every day or two to three times a week in all international schools.
Annual tuition fees for international schools in Singapore vary, ranging from S$10,000 to S$42,000. Fees vary in Hong Kong international schools as well, but there are debentures and capital levies that parents need to pay on top of the tuition fees.
As for entrance requirements: Singaporeans need to obtain a special exemption from the Ministry of Education to attend international schools in Singapore; whereas in Hong Kong, international schools are permitted to accept a small percentage of Hong Kong residents and passport holders. There is also a priority system in Hong Kong schools with which applicants who hold specific passports, have siblings in the school, or hold a debenture will receive placement offers first after passing the entrance exams or interviews.
Most school campuses in Singapore are vast with lots of outdoor space, and there are only a handful of small-sized schools. In contrast, there are only a number of international schools in Hong Kong with large grounds and extensive facilities.
Lastly, most international schools in Singapore start their academic calendar in August/September to align with schools in the Northern Hemisphere. That being said, there are also a small number of schools that start their year in January, in line with Southern Hemisphere schools.
4. What’s the personal safety situation like in Singapore and in the schools?
Jenn: Singapore is known to be one of the safest countries in the world, ranked seventh globally in a recent report. Compared to Singapore, Hong Kong is higher in density so parents are more likely to feel anxious and need to keep their child close to them. The situation in Singapore is such that parents feel safe for their children to play outdoors and allow them more freedom to be independent. You also don’t need to worry about healthcare in Singapore, as the country has one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world. Private hospitals in Singapore have their own A&E, and there are 24-hour clinics in almost every neighbourhood.
Schools in Singapore have safety standards and guidelines they need to comply with. There are CCTVs in the school compound, and only registered guests are allowed to enter the institution. The government also offers guardian visas to mothers and grandmothers of international students who are studying in Singapore. This is to ensure that the student is being taken care of in a safe and nurturing environment.
5. How can parents tell if a school is right for their child and family?
Lucy: You know your child best. Sit down with them and discuss what they love best about their current school, what they would love to see or be able to do in a new school, find out what learning style or atmosphere they respond well to. You should then be able to get a feel for the schools you’re researching based on their marketing content, initial contact you make and, most importantly, visiting the school itself – whether that’s online or in person.
Ultimately, you need to factor in the goal you have for your child’s achievement in their education as well as how they are going to feel on the way to achieving this. Everyone believes they would like their child to be successful, but actually, surveys show that the key factor to being successful is being a happy, well-rounded learner.
You’ll all have checks on your “must-have” boxes for school choice in Singapore, but I’d recommend letting your child be part of the journey and have a say in their choice.
A big thank you to our panellists: Heather Millington and Lucy Bates from Nexus, Anne Murphy from ITS Education Asia, and Jenn Tang!
Heather Millington joined the Nexus community from an established international school in Hong Kong where she was Vice Principal. Having enjoyed teaching undergraduates during her PhD studies, she worked in a variety of schools in the UK, building her teaching and leadership portfolio. This led to the opportunity to work for the local government, and enabled her to influence the curriculum, lead schools through curriculum reforms, and present to national audiences. Heather has a passion for inquiry and learning in all forms, and ensures she continues to learn as a CIS evaluator. Being a part of team visits to schools in Vietnam, Japan, and Australia has furthered her love of international education. She values being part of the leadership team that shapes the journey for learners, and ensures that they have the skills and knowledge to be successful in life beyond school. Outside of school, Heather enjoys baking, gardening, and sharing meals with friends.
Lucy Bates is an experienced Admissions Manager with 11 years and three schools, all in the highly competitive Singapore metropolis, under her belt. She sought out the best fit school for opportunities for every individual and has been instrumental in growing the roll from approximately 300 to 1,100, with a cross-island campus shift and state-of-the-art new build design to put to the community. She enjoys networking and learning new things. Also, she’s a pretty cool mum to two little boys who love to ensure that her patience and crisis-reaction is tested to the max.
Anne Murphy is the Director of Educational Services at ITS Education Asia (ITS). She is the founder of the first independent school admissions consultancy in Hong Kong, and in 2012, she took her Education Consultancy Services to Singapore. Anne is also Chief Editor of The Unique Asia Schools Guide. She offers talks and presentations on international school admissions to corporate companies and private organisations, as well as education events and seminars in Hong Kong and Singapore. In addition, Anne has worked in private school admissions, and has taught in both international and local schools in Hong Kong and China up to university level.
Jenn is an Independent Education Consultant in Singapore, providing education and immigration advice to parents who are moving to Singapore. She is devoted to understanding family’s needs and advising them on the different education and immigration pathways that are most suited to their situation. Prior to being an Education Consultant, Jenn was working in the Human Resource and Relocation industry for more than ten years. She holds an MBA and worked for multinational companies as a Mobility Specialist. Jenn lived in Hong Kong for three years and Singapore for ten years and counting. She has three children who used to study in Hong Kong and now they are studying in Singapore.