Choosing international schools in Singapore

Moving to Singapore might be a great career move for you, but what about your children? Although the local government schools are good, your child may struggle with some of the teaching approaches and local slang.  If you’re only going to be living in Singapore for a few years, you may worry about your child struggling with the curriculum when you return to your home country.

Of course, the closer the school is to the area where you will be working and where you hope to live, the better, but that’s not the only consideration.

Check out the curriculum

Expats often choose to send their kids to one of the many international schools in Singapore. Many of the schools offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) syllabus that’s aimed at providing an international standard education. Others align their syllabus with what children are learning in their home country to allow for the easiest adaptation when they return home. Other schools do a bit of both – either way, your child shouldn’t have a problem coping when they resume schooling in your home country.

A school for every nationality (almost)

At time of writing, there are more than 41 international schools in Singapore. There are British schools, American schools, Indian Schools, Chinese schools, French and Dutch schools as well as schools intended to cater for international students from a range of countries simultaneously.

Some expats plan to make a long-term commitment to living in Asia. They often choose a Chinese International school with a bilingual focus to help their kids learn the language faster.

International schools may be on the expensive side, but your child will get the facilities, individual attention and quality of education that you’d expect from an upmarket private school anywhere in the world.

Children running within international schools in SingaporeGetting to school

Public transport in Singapore is great, and the country has a low crime-rate, but if you don’t want to see your six-year-old getting jostled by commuting crowds or maybe even getting lost, you will have to give your kid’s (and your) commute a bit of thought before deciding where you are going to live. Older kids will have no real difficulty finding their way around, but if their commute is more than an hour each way, their studies may suffer – all these factors need to be taken into account.

Some schools offer door-to-door private bus services. They’ll pick your child up at home in the morning, and bring them safely home in the afternoon. There’s obviously an extra charge for this – and the further from the school you stay, the more expensive it will be – but it certainly is a solution that can give you some peace of mind.

Some schools offering door-to-door bus services include:

Of course, there are plenty of others, but whatever you do, check on the cost of the bus service, how long your child’s commute will be and whether the bus service actually visits the areas where you’re planning to live.

Talk to other parents

There’s a huge expat community in Singapore, and people will be happy to give you advice as to schools, commutes and bus routes. Don’t know anyone yet? Well, there are property agents run by expats who will understand your concerns and who can also advise you about international schools, commuting and so forth. Greyloft is particularly good in this regard. And they could advise you as to where to rent when you have to consider both your commuting needs and those of your children.

What parents are saying about some of the international schools?

We received some comments on schools from expats living in Singapore, so here’s the low-down from a parent’s perspective:

Australian international school: “They use the Australian curriculum, so we can be sure our girls will be up to speed when they get back to Australia. Our daughters settled in really easily. There are loads of activities where parents can get involved and cool school camps plus a wide variety of extra mural activities for our kids”.

Avondale grammar school: “Australian curriculum, individual attention and plenty of extra-curricular activities to keep them busy and inspired. Good academic standards and leadership program too… Our kids are thriving!”

Chinese international school: “Ok, so we’re not from China, but we want our kids to learn Chinese and be challenged by high international standards. It has IB accreditation and offers classes in both Mandarin and English. We’re looking at a long term commitment, so it’ll be great if our children can speak Chinese and learn in line with international standards!”

Canadian International School: “We’re from Kuala Lampur, and choosing a school for our grade 12 son wasn’t all that easy. They’re all really good. But the Canadian school is convenient, and there are plenty of challenges for our boy to enjoy. And when he’s finished, he’ll be eligible for admission to just about any university in the world that’s worth mentioning!”

Dover Court Preparatory School: “We will be moving back to the UK before too long, so we didn’t want our children to miss out on the British curriculum. We also wanted our kids to get personal attention in class. Dover Court is a winner in that regard!”

Eton House International school and pre-school: “”We have a young family, and having them all at one school gave us piece of mind. Our children are learning Chinese! At the same time, they’re learning in English to an international standard. Soon, we’ll be asking them stuff at the rate this is going!”

German European School Singapore: “It is great being here, but we know we’ll be returning to Germany in a few years’ time. It’s important to us that our children learn in German to stay in touch with their home country. But sometimes, I wonder if the education here isn’t even better than at home”.

Integrated International School: “One of our children has special needs. Back home, she’d be accepted into a mainstream school without any problem, but here, it was a bit more difficult. The IIS is giving her all the extra learning help she needs, plus, her ‘normal’ brothers and sisters are at the same school and are as challenged! I think individual attention makes all the difference!”

No matter what your child’s needs are, you’ll find the right school

From special needs to the need to learn in your home language, Singapore has a fantastic education system and some excellent international schools that will ensure that your child is educated, stimulated and ready for either a life in Asia or a return to your country of origin.

If you are keen on finding more information on the international schools, check out our detailed guide on international schools in Singapore.

Would you like to help new expats to settle in with the help of your experience? If you have something to add to our blog posts, add your comment!

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