Best Schools in Singapore for Aussie Expats
Living overseas, one of the key concerns is about the educational options for your kids. You want the best for your children, no matter where you are in the world.
Singapore, fondly known as the “Little Red Dot”, is renowned for its top-notch education system that consistently ranks among the best in the world. The city-state’s multicultural milieu, rigorous curriculum, and innovative teaching methodologies offer an enriching learning environment that moulds students into well-rounded individuals.
But with an array of international schools, local schools, and special education schools, picking the right institution can seem as tricky as figuring out how to play Aussie rules football for the first time.
For Aussie expats who are going through the same hurdles, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand the landscape of schooling in Singapore. Read on to find out the best schools in Singapore for expats.
Understanding the Singaporean Education System
The education system in Singapore is known for its rigour and holistic approach, blending academic pursuits with co-curricular activities to encourage a well-rounded learning experience.
The system, in its essence, consists of a six-year primary education, a four to five-year secondary education, and pre-university education of one to three years. There is an emphasis on bilingual education, with students learning English as a first language and their mother tongue as a second language.
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Best Schools in Singapore for Expats: International Schools
International schools in Singapore cater to a diverse set of expat communities, including Australians. They offer different curriculums including the International Baccalaureate (IB), British, American, Australian, French, and others. The schools tend to have state-of-the-art facilities, smaller class sizes, and a variety of extra-curricular activities.
Australian International School (AIS)
Standing at the forefront of the educational scene for Aussie expats, the AIS provides an authentic Australian-based education from Pre-school to Year 12. The school follows the Australian Curriculum up to Year 10 and offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program for Years 11 and 12.
What’s unique about AIS is their balanced approach to education; they encourage students not only in their academic pursuits but also in sports, the arts, and personal development. Their facilities, including a 756-seat theatre, a sports field, and a swimming complex, are top-tier.
Moreover, their support network, consisting of academic and psychological counselling, ensures that students receive the assistance they need to succeed.
Dover Court International School (DCIS)
Although not an Aussie-specific institution, DCIS is an excellent choice for Australians, especially those who prefer a British-based education. DCIS provides a broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum, catering to a wide range of student abilities.
Their curriculum incorporates elements of the English National Curriculum and is enriched by the international setting of the school, making it an ideal choice for expat students.
Stamford American International School (SAIS)
With an American-oriented curriculum, SAIS may seem an unconventional choice for Australians, but its strong focus on diversity, innovation, and globally-minded education makes it a fitting environment for Aussie children.
SAIS offers both the IB and American Advanced Placement (AP) curriculums, allowing students to explore their academic strengths and interests in a flexible manner.
Global Indian International School (GIIS)
While its Indian roots may be evident, GIIS offers an international education that incorporates global best practices.
The school provides the Global Montessori Plus programme, Cambridge IGCSE, and the IB Diploma Programme, ensuring a well-rounded education. Australian expats looking for a multicultural, inclusive, and academically rigorous environment will find GIIS a strong contender.
United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA)
UWCSEA provides an enriching learning experience through its holistic education model and commitment to service. The school offers the IB program and has an impressive range of extra-curricular activities.
Tanglin Trust School
Established in 1925, Tanglin Trust School is one of the oldest British international schools in South East Asia. It offers a British-based curriculum integrated with international elements, up to the IGCSEs and then the IB diploma.
Singapore American School (SAS)
SAS is a top-notch American international school with an extensive range of courses and activities. It offers an American-based curriculum with the option of an IB diploma in high school.
Best Schools in Singapore for Expats: Local Schools
Expat parents may also consider sending their children to local public schools. These schools offer high-quality education at a fraction of the cost of international schools. However, the school system is highly competitive and places a strong emphasis on exams.
Here are a couple of examples of prestigious local schools:
Raffles Institution (RI)
RI is one of the top schools in Singapore, known for its rigorous curriculum and exceptional track record in producing successful graduates.
Nanyang Primary School (NYPS)
NYPS is well-known for its strong emphasis on bilingual education, providing students with a solid foundation in both English and Mandarin.
Choosing a school in Singapore as an Australian expat involves thorough research and careful consideration of your child’s educational needs.
Whether you opt for an international school that offers a curriculum familiar to your child or decide to immerse them in the local education system, rest assured that Singapore provides a variety of excellent options.
Ultimately, the best school will depend on your child’s personality, interests, and long-term academic goals. The right school will provide a nurturing environment for your child to learn, grow, and thrive on this exciting new journey in the vibrant city of Singapore.
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Frequently asked questions
Yes, expat children can attend public schools in Singapore. However, as of 2018, priority for admission is given to Singapore Citizens, followed by Singapore Permanent Residents, and then international students. While expat students can apply, they are admitted based on availability of spots after locals have been allocated places.
It’s worth noting that the environment in local schools is highly competitive and rigorous, with a strong emphasis on academics.
The cost of schooling for expats in Singapore can vary greatly, primarily depending on whether you choose a public or an international school. International schools tend to be more expensive, with annual fees ranging from SGD 20,000 to SGD 50,000 or even more.
This includes application fees, enrolment, tuition, and other miscellaneous fees. On the other hand, public schools are more affordable but may have fewer spots available for expats. As of 2021, the Ministry of Education Singapore set monthly school fees for non-Singaporean students at SGD 415 for primary school, SGD 725 for secondary school, and SGD 1,100 for pre-university levels.
Expat children can indeed attend local schools in Singapore, but admission is not guaranteed and largely depends on the availability of places after priority has been given to Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents.
Should expat children be accepted, they will experience an education system that is highly competitive with a strong emphasis on academics and bilingual education.
Determining the ‘top’ international school in Singapore can be quite subjective as it largely depends on the specific needs and expectations of the student and their family. However, several international schools are frequently highlighted for their excellence in terms of curriculum, facilities, teaching staff, and overall student experience.
These include but are not limited to the Australian International School, United World College of South East Asia, Tanglin Trust School, and Singapore American School.