Expat parents moving to Singapore have little to worry about when it comes to educating their little ones. Singapore's education system is one of the best in the world, and the city-state is fast becoming a knowledge-based economy, with tourism bodies coming on board to attract international students to the country on various programmes to attend Singapore's excellent schools and tertiary education facilities. Its English-medium education places a strong emphasis on both English and mathematics from an early age. There's also a good choice of schools for a country with a population of just 5 million – incredibly, there are 1,000 private schools in the city-state, and many more public schools.
"No matter where you’re moving, few tasks can feel more daunting than selecting the best place for your student to continue their education, and quite frankly, the questions can feel endless: What curriculum is best? Will my child get the attention he needs? Will she be able to integrate back into our home system? Will he be best prepared for college entrance exams? Will she be safe? Can I afford it? Will he make friends easily? Will she overcome the language barrier? And more..."
Public Schools in Singapore
Admission Exercise for International Students (AEIS)
Private and International Schools
There's a large expat community in Singapore, which means there's also a large number of international and private schools. Singaporean students are forbidden to attend these schools without special permission from the Ministry of Education, so as a result, many of them consist largely of international students. There are two classifications – Private Education Institutions, or PEIs (also sometimes called Private Education Organizations or PEOs), and Foreign System Schools , or FSSs (also simply called International Schools). The former are private schools and tertiary education facilities which offer Singaporean education qualifications and/or post graduate degrees and diplomas, while the latter offer curriculums in line with those of other countries.
Admission to private and international schools
- At least two passport-sized photos of your child
- A copy of your child’s birth certificate
- Copies of the passports of the child's parents
- School records (including official transcripts or report cards, standardised test results, etc) for the last two or three years
- Request for Release of Transfer of School Records
- A copy of the first two pages of your child’s passport
- A copy of the child's Dependent Pass (DP) or Student's Pass (STP) (if applicable)
- A completed copy of the particular school's Application for Admission form
- A copy of your child’s immunisation certificate and any relevant doctor's reports
Tuition and Fees
The fees at public schools in Singapore are standardised by the Ministry of Education. Foreign students are charged slightly higher fees than local Singaporean students. For the 2012 academic year, for international students the annual costs are 356 SGD for primary school, 486 SGD for secondary school and 772 SGD for junior college.
School Term and Fees
Schools start between 7:45am and 9am depending on the institution and end at around noon for kindergarten, or 3pm for primary and high school students. Extra-curricular activities take place after school for about an hour or more.
- Term 1: Tuesday 3 January to Friday 9 March
- Term 2: Monday 19 March to Friday 25 May
- Term 3: Monday 25 June to Friday 31 August
- Term 4: Monday 10 September to Friday 16 November
Nurseries and kindergartens in Singapore provide three years of pre-school education for children aged three to six. These are run by a wide range of private institutions, including religious groups, business groups and some international schools. There are hundreds of pre-schools registered with the Ministry of Education, including 247 pre-schools run by the People's Action Party, the party that has governed Singapore since 1957.
Tips for Choosing a School for your Child
Whether you’re a seasoned expat who’s had to sift through countless school choices, or you’re a first-time assignee who’s never had to do more than pack your child’s lunch and make sure they board the bus without any problems, it’s always a good idea to think about some key principles when making decisions about your student’s education. There is a vast assortment of choice when it comes to things like curriculum, teaching philosophy, extra curricular preferences and general experience in private and international schools. We find it’s helpful to keep the following in mind when doing you preliminary research.
The Experiential Element
This point is central to the decision-making process, especially if you have kids in secondary school approaching the time when the college application process begins. Most expat parents tend to choose a curriculum that aligns with that of their home country, but nonetheless, you’ll want to make sure the curriculum is challenging enough for your student. For those with older kids, find out what standardised test the curriculum is geared toward, and find out what diplomas are granted upon graduation. It’s worth noting that the International Baccalaureate curriculum is accepted in many countries, as is the public school qualification in Singapore.
Besides these fundamentals, you’ll also want to have a close look at the kinds of extra-curricular options a school offers. Does the institution have good sports programs, does it encourage kids to partake in community activities, does it offer art and music courses, and are their clubs that allow students to develop certain skills, like leadership and debate?
Teachers and Class Size
British International School of Abu Dhabi
Address: Behind Abu Dhabi University, Al Ain Rd (#22)
Telephone: +971 (2) 510 0100
Teaching Language: English – students must have an adequate level of spoken and written English to be enrolled.
Average Class Size: Class sizes are limited at 22.
School hours: 7am – 2.30pm
Boarding facilities: none
What the school says
What the inspectors say
Sports & Extracurricular Activities
Early years: 46,497 dirhams ($12,554 or £7,904) a year. Years 1-5: 54,457 ( - ) dirhams a year. Years 6-9: 55,772 ( - ) dirhams a year. Year 10: 62516 ( - ) dirhams a year
Applications are reviewed within a two week period, at the end of which parents receive written responses. If your student is accepted, you’ll receive an official “Offer of Enrolment”, which must be accepted or declined by a given due date.
Quotes from Teachers
“BISAD welcomes families of all nationalities and offers British Education delivered within a truly international community enriched by the diversity of our community and the variety of cultures that help and support our global world.Our Staff are dedicated to high quality learning and supporting our pupils to reach their full potential. We want our pupils to thrive academically, socially and emotionally and leave our school as lifelong learners who are ready to embrace the challenges ahead of them and to prepare them for life in a global society.BISAD welcomes families of all nationalities and offers British Education delivered within a truly international community enriched by the diversity of our community and the variety of cultures that help and support our global world.Our Staff are dedicated to high quality learning and supporting our pupils to reach their full potential. We want our pupils to thrive academically, socially and emotionally and leave our school as lifelong learners who are ready to embrace the challenges ahead of them and to prepare them for life in a global society.”
– Lesley-Ann Wallace
Quotes from the parents
“Both my ankle-biters are here, and in my opinion, though it may have had one or two teething problems in the beginning, you can’t get a better top-quality British School”.
-Joan, mum of a Year 4 and Year 7
“There were definitely some issues in the beginning, particularly with the still developing senior school, but now with the new head, everything seems to be sorted, and the primary years program is solid”.
-Sine, Mother of an 8-year-old
“The first principal left a year and a half ago. Let's just say, I don't think anyone shed any tears about it! The new principal, Mrs Wallace has been with the school for a year and has been fantastic. She has upgraded the management team, has a very clear vision of where she wants the school to be and ensured that the teaching staff is excellent. The class sizes are small and the atmosphere is very secure and warm. You should take a look round the school and/or make an appointment to see the principal.”
Rose, British mum to a Year 3 student
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