Finding a School in Singapore
Singapore offers a wide range of choice when it comes to schools for expat children since English is the language of instruction in all state schools. Besides publicly funded schools there are also countless international schools which have sprung up to meet the huge demand from expats in Singapore. Because of that demand many of these schools have long waiting lists.
The School System in Singapore
As well as offering instruction in English the school system in Singapore quite closely follows the British model and consists of three main stages:
Primary schooling begins at age six and is compulsory for six years. At the end of primary school students sit the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLA).
Compulsory schooling is now over but the majority of students will now complete 4-5 years of secondary schooling. Students are put in one of four streams depending on their abilities and interests. Secondary school culminates in GCE ‘O’ Level or ‘N’ Level examinations.
This consists of 2-3 years at either a technical college, a polytechnic or a pre-university centre/junior college. At the latter students study towards a GCE ‘A’ Level.
At each stage of education students must also participate in CCA (co-curricular activities) programmes. Performance in these programmes contribute towards their placement at the next stage.
Enrolling in Public School
Parents who are permanent residents or Singaporean citizens with children who are entering Primary One may apply directly to their local school of choice for enrollment. The Schools Information Service (SIS) provides a comprehensive school search facility on their website and allows comparisons based on a variety of criteria. The child will be assessed on english and mathematics.
Parents with children looking to enter Primary years 2-5 or Secondary years 1-3 will have to apply via the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS). This does not offer a choice of school but rather allocates places based on performance in English and Mathematics and availability.
As well as a biennial donation of S$1,000 to the Education Fund, local schools charge monthly fees of between S$3 and S$262 depending on citizenship status and the stage of education.
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International Schools in Singapore
A common choice for expats is to send their children to one of more than 30 international schools in Singapore. These schools are often populated by other expat students, making transitions easier, and offer international or foreign curriculums such as the International Baccalaureate, IGCSE or US High School Diploma.
The most prestigious of these schools often have long waiting lists e.g.
- United World College South East Asia, a selective co-ed former British Army School which offers the IGCSE and IB exams and charges S$23,369 to S$29,195 per annum tuition with boarding fees of S$27,237;
- Tanglin Trust School, a co-ed British international day school which teaches a variant of the English national curriculum, but also offers the IB, and where tuition fees range from S$20,627 to S$34,260 per annum;
- ACS International, a selective co-ed Methodist day school which offers IGCSE and IB exams and charges tuition fees of S$21,935 to S$2