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Schools in Singapore: Four education options for expats

Singapore’s education system can be hard to fathom, especially if you’re a foreigner new to the island. Most freshly arrived expats would find themselves on unfamiliar ground and unsure of the educational choices your children may (or may not) have here. If you’re nodding while reading this, fret not, for here’s a list of options for you to consider….

Story time at GEMS World Academy, one of the international schools here
Story time at GEMS World Academy, one of the international schools here

Local Singapore Schools
Putting expatriate children through the local education system has been the popular choice for the past five years, given the hike in education costs in Singapore, and a slump in employee packages for expatriates.

Choose this if you want:
– An excellent bilingual programme (Chinese and English)
– A focus on Mathematics and Science
– Your child to master content and retention skills
– To stay in Singapore and aren’t too fussed about transferability of qualifications

But take note: Places in prestigious local schools are usually impossible to get. Also, the very important Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), taken at age 12, is a source of much angst among parents and students alike.

International Schools
These schools have no dominant culture or nationality group, and best support highly-mobile expatriate families.

One such institution is GEMS World Academy Singapore, which offers both the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, and Cambridge International Examinations (IGCSE).

Choose this if you want:
– Excellent learning opportunities for access to universities worldwide
– Diverse and extensive language programmes, as well as commitment to community and service
– Curriculum development that allows students to join part-way through, and to easily exit into any other educational programme
– A balanced education (schools like GEMS World Academy sends graduates directly into Ivy League universities) through its arts, sports and academics-based teaching methods)

National Curriculum Schools
These schools provide curriculum, values and culture aligned with a specific nationality.

Among them are Dulwich College and Tanglin Trust, which offer the UK National Curriculum; Singapore American School, which focuses on the American curriculum; and Lycee Francais, which offers the French Baccalaureate.

Choose this if you want:
– A smooth transition back into your home country’s education system
– A “little slice of home” in Singapore
– Your child to attend a university back home

Blended Schools
Examples of these include the Canadian International School and Australian International School, which combine national and international programmes.

Choose this if you want:
– A school that conducts “dual programmes”
– More options as you’re unsure which educational system is better for your child

 

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