- Alexander Knight
7 Top Tips for Selecting an International School in Singapore
If you have recently moved to Singapore, your child’s education is likely at front of mind. Any new city is challenging to get accustomed to, and finding the right school for your children is critical to bedding the family in.
International schools are usually better at keeping the flow of your child’s education stable, and a good environment can help with adjusting to the local culture gradually without having a drastic effect on their studies. It is also a great place for them to make new friends and to find their groove.
Here are our top 7 pointers:
1. Academics and Curriculum
International schools vary significantly in their curricula. Many offer country-specific curricula (British, German, Australian, American, French etc.), others offer international curricula (International Baccalaureate [IB], International Primary Curriculum [IPC], Middle Years Programme [MIYP] and others).
If you choose to stick to your country’s curriculum you may find your choice limited. Many schools do, however, offer hybrid curricula of IB with country-specific milestones, or others choose curricula that are widely accepted, for example, International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) or IPC.
The level of academics varies largely in international schools. While some schools are academically rigorous, it comes with the price of more homework and less focus on creativity, enquiry and soft skills that are essential for modern education. Other schools embrace a more holistic approach, however, they could be less academically focused. Finding balance and what fits your child is key.
Another essential aspect is the number of students in the classroom. The smaller the class size, the more likely it is that your child will get individual attention.
2. Location and Commute
Ideally, your child should not be sitting on a bus for hours every day.
Set a radius and look for the best schools. Alternatively, you can look for good institutions that are far away but have a shorter commute time and an efficient transportation system. School busses in Singapore might be costly, so find out the price before committing to the school. Many families like to live closer to the schools so that their children have a shorter commute while working parents can sometimes spend longer travelling.
3. Campus and Facilities
Given that your child will spend most of the day at school, it is important to ensure that the classrooms are big enough, are naturally lit, and are pleasant to be in. The campus should have an outdoor area and make sure to ask how much time students spend outdoors a day.
Good facilities are a plus, however large swimming pools and football fields come at a cost. Often students get to use the school’s pool only one term a year, however, the price of the school that has pool facilities can be significantly higher. Think twice if you are better off having individual swim classes for your child in your condo pool.
International schools in Singapore come with a hefty price tag – this is largely down to the generous expat packages of old. An average international school will cost you SGD30,000 to SGD50,000 a year. However, as expat packages become rarer and rarer, several budget schools have appeared on the market, some of them provide quality education at a very attractive price (SGD 14,000-25,000).
5. Admission, Application and Tuition Fees
Most schools have specific times allotted for admissions – also it is best to be aware that it can be a lengthy process involving waiting lists, entrance exams, and other formalities.
It is wise to keep track of these schedules and processes. Also, investigate if the fee structure based on months, semesters or years and don't forget additional costs such as uniforms, books and other materials.
All international schools have different schedules. Some start as early as 7.30 am and finish earlier as well. Some start as late as 10 am and finish later. Investigate the school extracurricular activities (ECAs).
Many schools prolong the day to accommodate working parents, however as a result, the children can come back home having a longer day than their parents!
Probe the relationship between students, teachers, parents, and management as well. How frequently do they communicate? How do they resolve any possible issues? Talking to a fellow parent is the best way to find out answers to such questions.
Use these 7 steps to find the most suitable school for your child. The best way to carry out this entire process is by listing all your expectations in one place and ticking boxes as you go along. Along the way, ensure that you, your child and other family members are on the same page.
Find out more about Astor International School by booking a tour here.