Parents looking for a more affordable education have the choice of schools offering the UK curriculum, the International Baccalaureate programme, India’s CBSE, the Singapore MOE curriculum, and the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). There are also schools teaching AP courses and Cambridge programmes, as well as French, Korean and Australian curricula.
The new Invictus International School (Centrium), due to open early 2021, will offer one of the most affordable English-Mandarin bilingual programmes for primary years. Schools planning to offer IGCSE and A Level programmes for less than $20,000 per year in the future include Invictus (Centrium) and Middleton International School (Tampines).
The majority of schools offering fees from $5,500 to $20,000 are primary, and you should expect to pay $21,000 and above for most secondary schools in Singapore. That said, St Francis Methodist School, GIIS SMART, Middleton International School, Singapore Korean International School, 5 Steps Academy, Lycee Francais de Singapour, DPS International, Yuvabharathi International School, Dimensions High School, and One World International School (Nanyang) all enrol secondary students (or plan to) for less than $20,000 per year.
While the majority of these more affordable schools are located in the Central district, there are campuses in the East, West and North too. For the most cost-conscious parents, location is an important factor as it can save a small fortune on school transport fees.
As you'd expect from schools with lower tuition fees, they tend to have smaller, older, more basic campuses. This is not always a negative. Many of the schools listed in the next few pages have a small student body that doesn't need a sprawling campus anyway; also, what some of these schools lack in terms of Olympic-size swimming pools and state-of-the-art theatres, they make up for in terms of creative use of space, small class sizes, a close-knit community and charm. For example, parents at Invictus International School are drawn to its homely, informal and rural setting; and families at The Grange enjoy classes of less than 10 students as the school establishes itself.
For families, who would prefer a larger campus, GIIS SMART, Middleton International School (Tampines), One World International School, and Lycee Francais de Singapour are all large schools with a student body of at least 1,000. These schools do offer larger indoor and outdoor facilities, and have invested in more resources SMART has a strong focus on art and technology with facilities including a radio station, ceramics studio and various maker spaces; Lycee Francais de Singapour has two semi-Olympic swimming pools and three gymnasiums across its two campuses; and OWIS has an athletics track and outdoor climbing wall.
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There was a noticeable rise in affordable schools opening from 2015-19, including Invictus International School (Dempsey and Sentosa campuses), The Grange, Middleton International School (Tampines), OWIS and GIIS SMART, most of which have quickly become popular and well-subscribed. Most recently, we have seen the opening of The Perse School (Singapore), and Invictus International School (Centrium) is due to open in early 2021. These schools are very much still in the making and, while they build up admissions, parents can enjoy benefits including lower introductory fees and smaller class sizes.
Other lower-cost schools are very well-established and may have longer waitlists, including DPS International School, Yuvabharathi International School, the GIIS East campus and St Francis Methodist School.
The fees listed for each school are annual tuition fees and may exclude uniforms, fee protection scheme, student insurance, transport, exams, canteen, field trips, assessments, co-curricular activities, course materials and ad-hoc fees. Also, always check if the fees are inclusive or exclusive of GST (7%).
Read on to find Singapore’s most affordable schools