Which School? Big vs Small, the Pros & Cons

How important is the size of your child’s school? It’s not about one being better than the other, but more about finding the right fit for your child.
Which School? Big vs Small, the Pros & Cons
By Carli Allan
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Will a larger school offer a broader curriculum?


Larger schools can offer a wider range of subjects as they will have viable numbers of students to fill different classes, and more resources to teach a broader curriculum; Tanglin, for example, has a large team of more than 250 faculty. This means that students in the primary years can have greater access to specialist teachers and facilities in areas like music, sport and languages. And, at GCSE and Sixth Form, larger schools may be able to offer less traditional subjects – Tanglin’s A Level options include philosophy, politics, film studies, and design technology – and offer flexibility in the different option blocks it can offer.

It offers a bespoke curriculum for its very youngest students; The Curiosity Approach is run alongside the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in the nursery to transform its youngest classes into “an even calmer and more tranquil learning environment”. And, with a Sixth Form cohort of 150 students, Tanglin Trust can also offer a dual pathway of A Levels and the IB Diploma Programme.

Mr Ridley (Tanglin) says:

“Each programme has its advantages, and our students appreciate being able to choose the pathway that best suits their strengths and aspirations. Parents of younger children also appreciate the dual pathway when considering sending their children to Tanglin; knowing that both pathways are available means that the choice of pathway can be made when their children are ready, without it having to involve a change in school.”

Elsewhere, SAS is able to offer students a choice of 25 AP courses (a good school will offer up to 20), as well as the AP Capstone Diploma programme. GIIS SMART Campus offers a choice of the IB's Primary Years Programme as an alternative to the CBSE in Grades 1 – 7; and Stamford American International School (SAIS) can offer a huge after-school mother tongue programme offering lessons in more than 15 different languages including French, Russian, Hindi, Hebrew, and Dutch.

Children can join CIS' bilingual programme up until Grade 3

Larger schools can also offer students the choice of opting into a Chinese-English primary-level bilingual programme. For example, at GIIS SMART Campus, students in the bilingual programme attend classes that are separate from its mainstream IB PYP programme, and Canadian International School (CIS) runs both Chinese and French bilingual programmes in its elementary schools.

An advantage of a smaller school, though, is a more personalised and flexible curriculum.

Razum International School Singapore (RISS), which enrols just 40 students in Grades 1-3 says: “Keeping our school small, we are open to listen to every parent and to meet every child’s needs in terms of learning as well as scheduling.”

Next: Can a smaller school offer the same opportunities in sport, the arts and leadership?

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