How to Get Into a Top Singapore School

Families relocating to, or already resident in Singapore, can have confidence in an education system that is viewed as one of the best on the world. Singaporean students regularly come top in international tests, and the country's main universities are among the top 100 in the world. Families also benefit from the option of entry to both public and private schools, but the admissions process can be complex. Our guide will take you through the process for public and private school applications.
How to Get Into a Top Singapore School
By Lyn Soppelsa
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Applying to private schools

Due to the requirement for Singapore citizens' children to attend public schools (or to seek approval to attend a private school), inevitably, international schools consist largely of international students.

There are two classifications – Private Education Institutions, or PEIs (also sometimes called Private Education Organisations or PEOs), and Foreign System Schools, or FSSs (also simply called International Schools). The former are private schools and tertiary education facilities which offer Singaporean education qualifications and/or post graduate degrees and diplomas, while the latter offer curricula in line with those of other countries – it is these schools that are likely to be the target of expatriate families.

Private schools in Singapore are regulated by the Committee for Private Education (a government entity) through the administration of the Private Education Act which was initially implemented in 2009 (with subsequent amendments).

The Private Education Act requires all private schools to be registered with CPE and meet basic requirements on information disclosure, academic processes and corporate governance. Visit this link for a list of all registered private schools. It is important to take note of the school’s registration period, its registration expiry date and its overall registration track record as part of your research.

The Edutrust Certification Scheme (EduTrust) is a quality assurance scheme. It assesses a private school’s academic processes, corporate governance and administration, quality management and the protection and welfare of students; and aims to recognise private schools that are able to consistently maintain a high standard of quality in the overall provision of education services and make continual improvements that lead to positive student outcomes.  EduTrust does not assess the content of the course. Visit this list for EduTrust-certified private schools.

Private schools conduct their own admission/enrolment exercises. Admission/enrolment enquiries are made with the school(s) concerned directly. For the most part, international schools accept applications throughout the year, although some more popular or prestigious schools have waiting lists for some grades. It is best to apply for admission as soon as possible.

Many schools, especially top-tier schools, will have their own tests for English or maths proficiency to determine in which grade your child should be placed.

Generally speaking, you will need most if not all of the following documentation to apply for a place at an international school:

• At least two passport-sized photos of your child 

• A copy of your child’s passport

• Copies of the passports of the child's parents

• School records (including official transcripts or report cards, standardised test results, etc) for the last two or three years - (a certified English translation is required for reports not originally issued in English).

• Request for Release of Transfer of School Records

• A copy of the parents’ Employment Pass and child's Dependent Pass (DP) or Student's Pass (STP) (if applicable)

• A completed copy of the particular school's Application for Admission form

• A copy of your child’s immunisation certificate and any relevant doctor's reports.

Some schools will request that fees be paid in advance, and others will have non-refundable admissions and/or registration fees. Most will require you to email through copies of all documentation, and then forward hard copies, to confirm a placement.

Students who are moving to Singapore will need to apply for a Student's Pass at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority before they arrive in Singapore, although this can be done concurrently with applying for a place at a school.

Our advice is to select a school first and then your residence if at all possible.

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