Students in Singapore and other parts of South East Asia and Australia can enrol for a fully online British education with a school timetable that is in line with their own time zone. In response to the demand for a high-quality and flexible English-medium education, online schools are offering overseas students a traditional UK curriculum leading to IGCSEs and A Levels, taught by predominantly UK educated teaching staff.
In Hong Kong, Kent College (Hong Kong) has an online campus offering IELTS, iGCSE and A Level courses, which are taught by UK teachers from Kent College. In the UK, Harrow School launched an online sixth form offering A Levels in 2020 to ‘sell’ and deliver a UK education to students living overseas. Most recently, King’s InterHigh has announced the launch of a new South East Asia table for its UK-based online school from September 2023.
What are the advantages of attending a full-time virtual school without walls? Cost is certainly a key factor. Annual fees for I/GCSE or A Level programmes can be as low as £5,700 (around SGD 8,000), which is at least £10,000 cheaper than the day fees at many UK independent schools and SGD 15,000 cheaper than the average cost of attending a physical international school in Singapore.
However, just as you'll find at many bricks and mortar private schools, there are still exam entrance fees to pay on top. Exam fees are paid directly to the exam centre and you should expect to pay upwards of SGD 250 for each IGCSE exam and around SGD 415 for A Levels, depending on the subject chosen.
There are several other reasons why online schools are a good choice for some. It may be that homeschooling is a lifestyle choice, you are living overseas, your child has SEN or medical needs, they have sporting or other professional commitments, they are a victim of bullying, or you simply prefer the alternative to what your own school is offering. Whatever the reason, it’s important to select a school that best suits your family.
WhichSchoolAdvisor rounds up the leading online schools for students living in Singapore, based on time zones, accessibility, curriculum and quality of education.
Admissions: Years 9-13 (14 to 18 years-old)
Fees: £4,415/SGD 7,300 (Year 9), £5,300/SGD 8,800 for Years 10-11 (eight IGCSEs) and £5,715/SGD 9,500 for Years 12-13 (three A Levels); this does NOT include exam entrance fees
King's InterHigh is an established online school teaching a UK National Curriculum to families located within the UK and internationally.
Following on from its two existing timetable options (UK and Middle East), King's InterHigh is launching a South East Asia timetable in September 2023. Open to students aged 14 to 19 (Years 9-13), King's InterHigh's Southeast Asia timetable will offer an online secondary curriculum including IGCSEs and A Levels.
The South East Asia timetable will give students living in countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong the option of studying Years 9-13 live and online.
In the Secondary school, there are ‘Lead’ and ‘Explore’ lessons. Lead lessons resemble masterclasses (or university style lectures) where much larger groups have the same new subject content delivered to them at the same time, by lead teachers in the subject. The Explore lessons are the more traditional exercise lessons (similar to tutorials and seminars) in much smaller groups where the understanding of the new subject content is explored.
The syllabus in Secondary school for Key Stage 3 (Years 7 to 9) includes subjects aimed at engaging students, giving them the chance to discover which subjects they have a passion for before making their IGCSE choices at the end of Year 9. For flexibility, students at Key Stage 3 can enrol for as many, or as few, of the subjects from the core list as they wish.Students can also trial the school on a half term basis before deciding if they want to join for a longer period.
With an increasing percentage of students from the South East Asia region – driven largely by the move to online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic – and to benefit these students, the South East Asia timetable will operate on the GMT+7 time zone. This means students can attend live, interactive online classes during normal regional school hours without starting late in the morning or running late into the evening to comply with the UK or Middle East timetable.
Read our full review of King’s InterHigh (South East Asia) here.
Admissions: Years 10-13 (16 to 18 years-old)
Fees: £15,750 / SGD 26,000 for full-time enrolment, per year, including all exam entrance fees
The UK's famous and very prestigious Harrow School launched an online sixth form offering A Levels in September 2020. International students aged 16 and above can access an education from one of the UK’s top private schools from anywhere in the world. Harrow Online School offers one-on-one academic tutorials, live online lessons, and regular coaching sessions for support for a single annual fee.
Interest in the online school comes from across the world, particularly in markets such as Hong Kong, the UAE, China, Russia and Nigeria. It adds to Harrow’s global expansion, which has seen schools opening in Hong Kong, Thailand and China.
The virtual co-educational Sixth Form focuses on STEM subjects (chemistry, physics, mathematics, further mathematics) and economics. Students work towards sitting their Pearson Edexcel International A Level exams, which are recognised by universities worldwide. Harrow Online School also offers a virtual house system, extra-curricular activities (such as a chess club and a student newspaper), and the opportunity to attend a summer course at Harrow School. The school encourages social interaction by expecting every student to take part in at least one real-life arts activity, a sporting activity and a volunteering project in their community.
Teaching, which is “founded on the traditions and academic excellence of Harrow School", is delivered by UK-based, qualified teachers, who are “trained to the same levels of excellence required by Harrow School”.
At the helm is principal Heather Rhodes who has worked at Harrow School for more than 10 years as the head of English as an Additional Language (EAL) and academic principal at Harrow School Short Courses (HSSC).
Admissions: Years 1-13 (five to 18 years-old)
Fees: Charged per subject. As a guide, you can expect to pay around £4,000 / SGD 6,600 to study nine IGCSEs over two years, and around £2,100 for three A Levels over two years; this does NOT include exam entrance fees
Wolsey Hall offers Primary courses for children aged five to 10, Lower Secondary courses for children aged 11 – 14, and IGCSE and Level courses. This online school follows the Cambridge curriculum and teaches English, maths, science, computing, geography, history, art, music, French, mindfulness and PE from Year 1. Throughout the school you can choose how many subjects your child studies, and you pay for each subject.
The school is certainly one of the more affordable online school, but there is a huge difference; it does not follow a structured school day or offer a timetable of live lessons. Instead your child will be learning through a mix of online and offline study; as well as using course books for each subject, they have access to the Canvas online system which guides your child through each subject using quizzes, videos, websites, tutor prepared material, assignments etc.
This type of on-demand online schooling demands greater self-discipline and a higher level of independence from the student; there's also very little social interaction between students. It is, however, very flexible and will suit students living overseas, or those balancing studies with other commitments. In terms of support, every student has a dedicated tutor who assesses their assignments within three to five working days, and can be contacted for advice and support.
Admissions: Years 7-13 (11-18 years-old)
Fees: £9,000 / SGD 15,000 for full-time enrolment, per year
Pearson Online Academy UK Global offers International GCSEs in English language, English literature, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, business and computer science; and International A Levels in a range of subjects including maths, the sciences and economics.
At Pearson Online Academy students study the main content of their A Level studies through interactive self-study lessons, then have two live lessons a week to practise and apply what they have learnt. While the school has a timetable that follows the UK time zone, the small number of live number of lessons means that an education here can be accessible to students in other parts of the world (without having to start the school day too early or late).
The online courses allow students to study at a time and pace that best suits them. Students are supported in planning their timetables, taking into account, any commitments and interests they have beyond school. This flexibility also enables families to travel and/or relocate without the additional stress of finding an appropriate school with suitable curricula, pastoral support and in a realistic location.
Online schools look beyond the curriculum to stretch and challenge their students, just as you would expect from a brick and mortar school. Like King’s InterHigh and Harrow School Online, Pearson Online Academy UK Global offers the Extended Project Qualification, which helps students to develop skills that are directly relevant to and useful for university-level study.
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