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Tips for Choosing the Best International School for Your Child in Singapore

by Nathan Zachary

Singapore has quite a few international schools owing to its large ex-pat community. When it comes to international schools, Singapore is very fortunate to house numerous options of world-class international schools. However, when you need to choose the best international school for your child in Singapore, you need to compare the schools across several essential criteria – some of which may be negotiable and some otherwise. 

Schools in Singapore span four broad categories: international schools, national curriculum schools, hybrid curriculum schools and public schools

International schools are ideal for ex-pats and cater to varying cultures with no overriding ethnicity or nationality. For ex-pats who move from country to country in search of better career opportunities sending your child to an international school is a rational choice. This is because international curriculums are universally accepted and allow children to transfer and carry on their education in another country with ease. International School Singapore curriculums are generally a mix of the International Baccalaureate’ IB’ (split into Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP)), the IGCSE and the International Primary Curriculum.

Then there are national Curriculum Schools that focus on a home country’s education system and make sense if the intention is to go back to the home country. Then there are the Hybrid Curriculum Schools that combine an international curriculum with a home country curriculum, which one can choose based on their preference. Then there are the local public schools which offer great exposure to the local culture and for those who are looking for fluency in Mandarin. However, the waiting lists for these schools are extensive and foreign nationals are considered after Singapore Citizens. 

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best international school for your child in Singapore: 

Evaluate the Curriculum

Based on your child’s age, you need to choose a school that offers a suitable curriculum in line with your child’s needs. Every child has a distinct character and particular educational needs, especially if your child is over 12 years of age. The curriculum is critical in shaping their future. It is what will equip them for future opportunities.

School Fees

IGSCE fees are considered to be higher compared to the local options available. Set a budget and do not overshoot that tremendously. A high fee also means access to better facilities such as digitally advanced classrooms, the latest technologies, better sports equipment, better laboratories etc. But while making a budget must account for the fact that the fees increase year on year between three to eight per cent. Check out the school fee structure, payment schedule and whether you have the option of paying in instalments or need to make the payment upfront.

The school culture

Getting acquainted with the international school’s values system and ethos is very important. The school should ideally echo the same value system your child is exposed to at home. It can often lead to conflict. This will be a personal preference, so you must know what values are being instilled into your child.

Admissions process and waiting lists

Every international school will have their own application process that will be explained in detail either on the website or the school brochure, or both. Check the prerequisites of the school before submitting the online application. Some schools have an entrance assessment, some require the kids’ past school reports to be submitted, and there are some that require kids to be proficient in English by a certain age. Be sure of the deadlines and requirements not to overlook either. If you need your child to be transferred in the middle of the school year, ask if the school can accommodate that. 

Facilities & extracurricular activities being offered by the school

Be sure to check the facilities being offered by the schools. Usually, the standard of facilities that most of these international schools offer is world-class, thereby justifying the IGCSE fees. See if what interests your child is a part of the school offering. International schools have everything from digital classrooms, climbing walls, and technologically state-of-the-art auditoriums to innovation centres, auditoriums and Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is essential to know how much exposure your children have to these facilities and how they benefit your child’s development when incorporated.

Subjects and Languages being offered.

A school’s subjects and languages are central to a child’s academic progress and development. It is imperative to be mindful of what language options and subjects the school offers, especially if your child is at a critical stage of deciding what career they want to pursue and what field they intend to make a career in. If your child needs require certain facilities and subject support, you need to ensure the schools offer that.

Other things you need to consider are the location of the school from your home, class sizes and child-to-teacher ratios.

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