Moving to Singapore and looking for a great school for your kids or teens? Choosing the right curriculum is important, as it directly affects their learning and overall development. We gather tips and advice from teachers and a principal from top international schools, on what they offer students and how to find the right education fit for your child.
Singapore American School
Advice from a teacher: Dennis Steigerwald, High School catalyst (project) teacher
“Singapore American School offers an exemplary American education with an international perspective. We believe that teachers who truly connect with and engage their students will get better results. In addition to seeing success in our Advanced Placement program, SAS offers unparalleled choices for students to combine their personal interests and talents. College-level advanced topic courses, the Catalyst project course, and the full-day, year-long, immersive project-based Quest program are just a few examples of how students can personalise their learning.
Parents should look for a curriculum that not only challenges their child but also incorporates aspects of personalised, skills-based learning. SAS not only teaches content, but also character, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and cultural competence. These are the skills students will need both in university and throughout their future professional lives and should be thoughtfully built into instruction. We also believe that social-emotional learning is critical to students’ well-being and overall development. Curriculums that support content heavy curriculum, lecture-based instruction, and high-stake tests are no longer relevant in preparing students for success in life.”
Hear from the principal: Erin Robinson, Middle School Principal, UWCSEA East
“UWCSEA’s K–12 academic curriculum builds to the IB Diploma in Grades 11 and 12. The school uses a concept-based curriculum where they focus on themes common across the subject, rather than on individual case studies. For example, while the content of a chosen text in English may vary between educational systems, the concepts that underpin the subject remain the same. These ideas can transfer across the world, and thus it supports students who are joining the college from different backgrounds.
There are standards and benchmarks for each grade level across all five elements of the learning programme, namely academics, activities, service, outdoor education, as well as personal and social education. UWCSEA allows students to explore a wide variety of interests, including sports, arts and leadership, throughout the year.
My tip for parents is to look at the entire learning programme. While students spend most of their time engaging in the academic curriculum, parents should also understand how their children will learn in personal and social education, activities, service, and outdoor education.”
German European School Singapore
Hear from a teacher: Eva Noorduijn, Head of European Section (the IB curriculum)
“At GESS, the curriculum provides a smooth transition from one grade to the next. GESS also invites the IB and the Council of International Schools to come in regularly to assess the curriculum. This ensures that the curriculum aligns with standards set internationally by the IB and the Council of International Schools (CIS).
There is a wide range of subjects offered here. The teaching style is inquiry-based and student-centred; students are engaged in the classroom and they are given the chance to communicate their understanding in a variety of ways – not just through written tests. Students may instead give an oral presentation, create a blog or vlog, perform (sing or act) or create a 3D model.
Apart from the curriculum, the well-being of the students is also important. At GESS, there is a school nurse and counsellor on hand to support students, parents and staff. There is also a range of co-curricular activities offered after school and during the school holidays, including fashion design, hip-hop dance, yoga, robotics and cooking.”
Tanglin Trust School
Hear from a teacher: Verity Goodliffe, Senior School English teacher
“Tanglin’s Senior School offers a broad and balanced curriculum grounded in a British education system of strong pastoral support, high academic standards and an emphasis on the holistic development of the child. No two students are the same; therefore it is vital to understand the curricula offered. At Tanglin, we meet the academic needs of our students by tailoring the curriculum to our international community and we offer Sixth Form students a choice of A Level or IB. A holistic curriculum must include exceptional pastoral care to ensure students flourish and be the best that they can be. Each year group has a Head of Year and Assistant Head of Year who, along with their Form Tutor, move with the students as they progress from Year 7 to Year 13, providing personalised support to both students and parents.
Our excellent sporting opportunities, thriving Arts programme and fantastic overseas trips to places like Thailand, Malaysia and Australia, stimulate and broaden student experience.”
To find out more about Tanglin Trust School, join them for one of their open house events.
Hillside World Academy
Hear from a teacher: Joshua Medendorp, Grade 4 teacher and PYP Coordinator
“At HWA, students are immersed in a bilingual program – English and Chinese language – that integrates both the philosophies and learning outcomes of the International Baccalaureate (IB). Additionally, the students also take up physical education, visual arts, and music classes. The curriculum focuses equally on teaching both the receptive skills (listening and reading) and the productive skills (writing and speaking) of both languages in language arts, science, social studies, and mathematics.
I am originally from the United States and I have been teaching the PYP curriculum at HWA since 2012. Personally, the deciding factor in choosing a school for my child is its curriculum – it should be designed to balance information from all the core subjects and hone the students’ language proficiency skills. Apart from the curriculum, visiting the school of your choice and interacting with the staff are great ways to get a feel of the community within the school.”
Stamford American International School
Hear from a teacher: Michael Galligan, Grade 11 and 12 teacher
“Stamford American is the only international school in Singapore that offers both the International Baccalaureate and US-based Advanced Placement programs. The curriculum infuses the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework with American-based standards and benchmarks. Elementary School classes follow units of inquiry that guide their studies over five to six weeks, with a central theme that ties all of their subjects together. Students in Grade 10 through 12 have the opportunity to undertake any of our one-year 20 Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including World History, Macroeconomics and Studio Art.
There’s also an Innovation Centre, where students have made pillows, participated in LEGO competitions and designed new light tables for Early Years classrooms. There are also many co-curricular activities held here, including coding, game design and 3D printing
The type of university a student is hoping to enrol into should influence the type of high school curriculum he or she pursues. For example, US universities use a more holistic admissions process while others tend to focus on specific courses and final exam results.”
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