Every one of Singapore’s IB schools here offer expat parents good results – but what makes what makes an international school offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme truly outstanding?
There are 30 international, private and local schools in Singapore offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), including seven that are full IB schools and also follow the IB Primary Years (PYP) and Middle Years Programmes (MYP). Only two international schools, XCL World Academy and Dulwich College (Singapore), currently offer the IBCP.
Every one of the schools here are offering parents good results and 40% of Singapore’s IBDP schools (12 of its 30) are in the global Top 100 ranking for schools by IBDP average score. But they vary greatly in terms of cost, facilities, curricula (some combine the IB with UK and other programmes), and student enrolment.
The pass rates and average scores of every IB school in Singapore are above the world average. In 2022, Singapore's average IBDP score was 37.49 which surpassed the global average of 31.98. However, a school’s position in an IB league table is only part of the picture, and a quality education needs to be measured on far more than that.
For the latest round up of Singapore IB Diploma Results, click here for July 2022 and here for January 2023.
What is the total cohort size, as perhaps it is more impressive for a school with 100 plus IBDP students to perform well than one with 10? Is the school selective? What does it offer in terms of other IB programmes (IB PYP, MYP and IBCP)? Does it offer multiple pathways for students, with the IBDP route being offered to a select few?
So, what makes an international school offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme truly outstanding?
In this round-up of Singapore’s very best IB schools, we look at how schools offer the depth and breadth of an IB education and deliver a high standard of inquiry-based learning across all age groups. We ask, does the school offer opportunities for IB students of all abilities, and with different interests and strengths, to achieve their full potential?
Also, as well as academic achievement, is the school strong in language, sport and other programmes and pastoral care? In addition, does the school’s IB programme keep a strong international focus?
Winner of the WhichSchoolAdvisor (Singapore) Best Schools Award (Singapore) 2022 for the Best IB School, Chatsworth has a very well-established IB programme: It is IB all the way here. Having offered the IBDP since 2004, it has a long-standing reputation as a full IB school, and proven experience and commitment to the programme. The school continues to keep the IB fresh and relevant with lively and engaging ways to learn through inquiry and develop real world skills.
The school does not restrict access to the IB Diploma Programme to only the most able students. It is non-selective, and it still delivers strong IB results – an indication of the added value here.
Students achieve above global average results year on year. For the past three years, the average IBDP score has been 36 points, and 33% achieved the Bilingual Diploma; its scores are above global averages and puts the school in the mid-range for international schools in Singapore. The majority of students go on to universities in UK, Europe and Asia. The Class of 2022 achieved a 100% pass rate and a top score of 41 points, and the average score was 38 points (its highest ever school average).
The international style of the IB is an excellent fit with the school’s multicultural community and the IB Learner Profile is embedded in the school's culture. For example, its Mother Tongue Language Programme is supported by external mother tongue tutors who are fully trained in IB concepts and help students to develop language and literary skills needed for the MYP or DP; students have the choice of learning French or Mandarin from Year 3.
The school is also delivering this strong IB programme at a moderate fee of $24-33,000, which makes the IB a more affordable option compared to other schools. Full scholarships are available for the two-year IBDP, with Chatsworth covering 100% of the fees and paying for a laptop; that's a saving of around $70,000. Since 2007, the school has awarded over 60 diploma scholarships.
Chatsworth is one of the few international schools in Singapore to offer the full IB MYP eAssessment examination, leading to the award of the IB MYP course results or the IB MYP Certificate. In 2021, 37% of the cohort scored 50 points or above out of the maximum 56 and three students achieved 54 points. 27% of the cohort earned a Bilingual MYP certificate.
Read our full review of Chatsworth International School here.
Highly Commended for the WhichSchoolAdvisor (Singapore) Best Schools Award (Singapore) 2022 for the Best IB School, GESS has a reputation for being very inclusive, international, and non-selective. It is very much a European school (it was originally a German school), and there is a 50:50 split between the fully English-speaking IB stream (IB) and German stream, a student body of more than 65 nationalities, and a wide choice of European language programmes.
While the school offers two curricula it feels a very united school, very welcoming to all non-German speakers, and celebrates all nationalities. The truly international style of the IB is an excellent fit with the school’s multicultural community and the IB Learner Profile is embedded in the school's culture. GESS can be seen to really value children's nationalities and home languages with its choice of mother tongue and foreign language programmes from pre-school onwards.
The school may not have the highest (or the lowest) IB scores in Singapore, but GESS is known to be very inclusive, non-selective and has a very international focus, which is not something to be shown in any league tables. In 2022, the average score was 35.3 and 30% of students scored 40 and above.
The school is highly rated for the many opportunities that stretch and challenge IB students. GESS offers a Middle School Electives programme for students from Grades 6 to 8; there is a choice of arts, outdoor education and fitness, and computing and design technology. This is not about assessment or grades but rather about encouraging children to explore various talents, interests and passions.
GESS also extends learning beyond the IB in other ways too. It offers a unique two-year Junior Engineering Academy programme as an after-school activity for students who are really interested in engineering; there’s an eight week-long string programme for Grade 3; and it runs a centre of excellence for gifted students in all areas. It has some interesting partnerships to make learning relevant to the modern world. Most recently, it has partnered with a chemical company to elevate chemistry learning at primary and high school.
The general feedback from parents is that GESS’s strengths are its very international, European and close-knit community. Parents refer to happy children who are encouraged to think independently (which is what we’re looking for from an IB school) and try new things. 100% of parents are satisfied with the level of academic performance here.
Read our full review of GESS here.
Tanglin is the oldest British international school in Singapore and has a reputation for combining a UK curriculum with a truly global outlook. Renowned for its strong academics, well-rounded, confident students, and unique choice of pathways, it is highly regarded in the UK by both schools and universities.
It is still the only school in Singapore to offer both A Levels and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) at post-16. Students can tailor their learning to the subjects they love or follow a pathway that provides them with broad base of knowledge. There’s early support and advice from Year 9 to help students decide which direction to choose from: teachers make an assessment and rate each subject as to whether an individual is capable of taking it at A Level or IB (higher or standard level).
Competition from other schools ensures that Tanglin is never complacent, even though waitlists remain long. Tanglin’s post-16 curriculum continues to improve evolve to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world and the broad needs of students.
Most recently, it has remodelled the personal, social, health and citizenship education (PSHCE) as its own Lifeskills programme. In the Sixth Form, Lifeskills is less about teaching lessons on sex education, drugs etc and more about getting students to engage in a dialogue and create a collective understanding of the way society is.
New facilities including a film/media suite and a design and technology suite cater for a broader offering of IB subjects, and the new Centenary Building has learning spaces to accommodate new teaching methods and technologies.
Results in the IBDP are outstanding overall, and Tanglin is typically among the top three international schools in Singapore for the IB DP. In 2022, the school had an average score of 41.3 which is 3.8 points higher than the Singapore average last year and nearly one whole point higher than 2021’s 40.7 points out of 45. This is a record-breaking average for the school and well above the world average (31.98).
The general feedback from parents is that despite its size, Tanglin has created individual school communities where the individual child is well-known and supported by a team of excellent teachers. There are frequent references to personalised learning, allowing individuals to flourish and exploring each child’s potential. Families recognise that Tanglin is a high-achieving school, but what they really value is its holistic approach to education and well-rounded learning experiences.
Read our full review of Tanglin Trust School here.
Throughout Canadian International School (Lakeside), there is a focus on holistic, student-led and hands-on learning which is line with the IB and the Canadian style of education – and this is brought to the fore through its outdoor learning, STEAM and language programmes. An IB school needs to encourage investigation and inquiry, creativity and collaboration – and CIS has developed several forward-thinking programmes to support its teaching of the IB’s units of inquiry.
Languages are hugely important here. There’s the option of joining the Chinese or French bilingual programme in the primary years, which is taught in alignment with the IB PYP; this is a big draw for the school and 35% of students are signed up to one of the bilingual programmes.
Also, CIS’ EAL programme, which enables non-native speakers to access the primary school and subsequently the full MYP programme, offers inclusion to students who would otherwise not have this option.
The school’s ongoing financial investment in the school helps to justify its higher fees. In January 2023, it opened a new Junior Wing with an Outdoor Discovery Centre. This purpose-built kindergarten to Grade 6 facility is so much more than a playground and is used by teachers as an extension of the classroom to teach maths, science, language, and other subjects. You’ll find sound and art gardens, a mud kitchen and eco pond, as well as nature tunnels, a play fort and yoga lawn. If hands-on exploration and learning in a natural environment is important to you, then you’ll struggle to find a better outdoor classroom in Singapore than here.
The school achieves excellent IBDP results, while having a non-selective admissions policy that enables students of all abilities to access the programme. In 2022 the average score was 37, and the pass rate was 99.2%; 25% of the cohort passed with the Bilingual Diploma.
Read our full review of Canadian International School (CIS) here.
Dulwich College is renowned for its academic rigour, well-rounded, confident students, and strong language programme. It is highly regarded in the UK by both schools and universities and has quickly earnt its reputation as one of the top international schools in Singapore; this is in part thanks to the Dulwich College heritage, but also well-earned by the school’s forward-thinking leadership.
The College’s curriculum is strongly British in character and follows the national curriculum up until Year 12. This provides an excellent foundation for Sixth Formers to follow either the IBDP or the IBCP (the latter was was introduced in August 2022 with a variety of pathways including sport and the arts). The College offer six different options in the IBCP, making it the largest IBCP programme in Singapore in terms of choice.
The College as built on the strengths of its associations with such a highly acclaimed British public school and a growing family of international schools to offer students opportunities that extend beyond the UK curriculum; for example, partnerships with RSC, Berklee College of Music etc.
It’s a school for the ambitious and the talented, and for the student who thrives in a competitive environment. There is certainly a place in Singapore for a school such as this (although it now faces competition from the recently opened NLCS (Singapore), another selective school that is also unashamedly academic).
It delivers an interesting and diverse education that stretches and challenges students of all ages – and has several programmes in place to champion students’ potential in all areas. For example, the Ignite! programme creates opportunities for high performers to thrive and excel across the curriculum – not just academics, but the arts and sport too.
The College has grown organically and its first cohort of IB students graduated in 2020. In 2022, the IB cohort achieved a very high average point score of 38.9, (the previous year was 39.7). Since launching the IBDP in 2020, this was the school's largest graduating cohort size to date with 86 diploma students, up from 47 students last year. All students in the school's Sixth Form take the IBDP.
The general feedback from parents is that the College offers an academically rigorous curriculum as part of a balanced education that offers some exciting opportunities in sport and the arts. Expectations are high, teaching quality is excellent but fees are undeniably amongst the most expensive.
Read our full review of Dulwich College (Singapore).
The first IB Diploma authorised school in Asia, UWCSEA Dover has been offering the IB Diploma since 1977 and UWCSEA East since 2012. As a co-founder of the IB programme, UWC remains a strong advocate of its learning methods and practices; however, all UWC schools follow a co-curricular model where students divide their time between their IB studies and wider activities, service work, and outdoor education on and off campus.
UWC South East Asia has the space, facilities and ambitious vision to offer students a wide range of academic and non-academic opportunities at post-16 level.
The school is enduringly popular because it delivers excellent IBDP results, reliably and consistently almost since its founding in the early 1970s. And the school is not just academically outstanding. UWCSEA is almost as rigorous in pushing an external life and activities outside the classroom as it is academic success. It's an education that goes well beyond the classroom and will certainly appeal to families looking for learning experiences in 'real' situations.
Parents are overwhelmingly happy with the level of academic performance here, and 100% say that their child has a sense of belonging. While the school's fees are among the highest in Singapore, 72% of parents say that they represent good value for money (WhichSchoolAdvisor Parent Survey). As one parent says, "I like that the school is continuously evolving its focus and strategy to adhere to the changing needs of education."
This is a school that does exceptionally well at "developing well-rounded individuals with a global perspective – all skills that equip students very well for achieving offers at top universities worldwide". A standout feature of its IBDP programme is the independently planned trip in Grade 11, which is a core part of the educational programme.
Students at the UWCSEA Dover and UWCSEA East campuses scored well above the global average in the 2022 results, with average scores of 38.5 (in 2021 it was 39.3) and 37.8 (39.2 in 2021) respectively. The school had a cohort of 576 students across the two campuses.
Read our full review of UWCSEA Dover and UWCSEA East.
Formerly GEMS World Academy, the school was bought by private education company XCL Education in June 2021. This is a school that is focused on growth and responds well to change – and its recent change of ownership seems to be breathing ‘new life’ into the campus.
In the past 12 months, we’ve seen it open a dedicated esports facility, The Garage, to host an esports programme where students learn skills such as game design and development, league organisation, broadcasting, streaming, and shout casting.
It is opening new (and much-needed) dedicated facilities for its IBDP students, has launched a Chinese-English bilingual programme for kindergarten students that is aligned with the IB PYP, and introduced a University & Career Guidance Programme from Grade 8 to encourage students to start thinking about their future sooner.
XCL is the only international school in Singapore to offer all four continuous IB pathways. In the Sixth Form it offers the IB Career-related Programme (CP) as a vocational alternative to the IBDP.
Innovation is a priority here and the use of technology is embedded in teaching, which supports the IB’s focus on student-led and inquiry-led learning; the school has invested in STEAM facilities that are used by all age groups and is building a dedicated secondary school innovation hub.
IBDP students can select courses from a decent offering of 44 different subjects, with a wide choice of languages and experimental sciences (including sport and design technology).
In the IBCP, students link up with SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) online to follow a pathway in art and design (this covers fashion, architecture, fine art, graphic design) or with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University so that students to follow a pathway in aeronautical engineering/aviation business administration. There’s still only a small but growing uptake of the IBCP, just 6% in 2021 and 11% in 2022.
XCL is also one of the few international schools in Singapore to offer the full IB MYP eAssessment examination, leading to the award of the IB MYP course results or the IB MYP Certificate. IGCSEs are offered to those who want to take them (Grades 6 to 10), but only a few do.
The school does not restrict access to the IB Diploma programme to only the most able students and it is non-selective – and it still delivers strong IB results – an indication of the added value here. In 2022, the IB average score was 36 points in its cohort of 51; 18% of graduates achieved a score of 40 points and above, and 54% achieved 35-plus points. Its scores are above global averages and puts the school in the mid-range of international schools in Singapore.