The Best Singapore Schools for Expat Families

For expats with families, education is a top concern. Singapore has one of the top-rated education systems in the world, integrating the most successful aspects of other country’s systems in conjunction with its growing and redeveloping infrastructure. With the choice between international schools and local schools, many parents may be confused as to where to begin. International schools are a better option for expats looking to move to Singapore for a limited time because they follow the curriculum of a home country. However, for expats looking to live in Singapore long-term, a local school may be a more viable option. Whatever path an expat sends their children down, they are guaranteed to participate in one of the most rigorous systems in the world. However, there are schools that stand out as the best of the best in Singapore, providing an appealing array of options for expats.United World College of South East Asia

The United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) is a large and highly sought-after institution with over 4,500 students and is projected to be home to 5,500 students by 2015. The school’s size demands that students have a certain degree of independent motivation, but this two-campus institution holds countless amenities and opportunities for children of expat families. Some of these amenities include Olympic-sized swimming pools, a new 55-classroom building, four sports halls and a solar-powered air-conditioning system.

The school is one of 13 United World Colleges that is committed to a holistic and values-based education. It follows the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program which emphasizes on creative thinking and self-management skills. The school also has over 200 sports teams in operation and dozens of drama and musical productions.

The school is highly selective and pupils must speak English well enough in order to follow the curriculum. Competition for spots at UWCSEA is intense, and Julian Whiteley, the head of the college, is proud of the challenge that the school poses for students academically, emotionally and spiritually.

Tanglin Trust School

Tanglin Trust School is a large British international school with over 3,000 pupils and a long waiting list to get in. 69% of pupils at this school are United Kingdom passport-holders, but there are more than 40 other nationalities represented.

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Located in southern Singapore, Tanglin Trust School teaches an adapted version of the English national curriculum from a young age. Facilities include assembly halls, a swimming pool, music rooms, science labs, four libraries and a large theater.

The school is thought to be non-selective, but like UWCSEA, students must have a sufficient grasp on English to understand the curriculum. Because the school is completely full, the biggest challenge for parents is to get their children in. The school prides itself on holding the high standards common to the best British schools and this is reflected in the success of the children.

ACS International

Anglo-Chinese School, or ACS, is a recent addition to a group of six schools meant to bridge Western and Asian culture. All ACS schools are Methodist and aim to promote the Christian faith. However, approximately half of the pupils come from non-Christian homes. The goal is more value-oriented than converting students into Christians. Western children are the minority in the school as Singaporean students and Chinese students comprise the majority.

The curriculum at ACS focuses on preparation courses in English, math, science, life skills, history, languages and more. The school also includes a diverse array of sporting activities such as archery, rugby and bodybuilding as well as numerous music and drama productions.

The school itself is extremely selective with entrance tests in both English and math. However, ACS is much easier to get into in comparison to other schools like Tanglin Trust School or UWCSEA, which have extensive waiting lists. The school is praised for the breadth of education provided and Western parents enjoy feeling like they are a part of the local community with involvement in the school.

With so many options of schooling in Singapore, it is often difficult for parents to make a decision as to where their children are most likely to succeed. Many of the top schools, such as the three discussed here, have waiting lists that make them virtually impossible to get into. Luckily, however, there are outstanding schools throughout Singapore for expats to choose from.

With compulsory education under the Ministry of Education, local schooling in Singapore is not considered to be of low quality. In fact, many parents like local schools because of the integrative nature of Singaporean and Western culture. Wherever expats decide to send their children, they must do their research to ensure the correct fit for their children and their family.


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