Why Choose an International School?

Are you planning a move to Singapore? Or, are you considering moving your child from a local school into an international school? Here are the top 10 reasons for choosing an international school in the Red Dot.
Why Choose an International School?
By Carli Allan
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When it comes to choosing a school for your child in Singapore, the first decision you will need to make is Local or International? Do you apply to a government-run local school which offers low-cost primary and secondary education and follows the Ministry of Education (MOE) curriculum, or would you prefer to send your child to one of Singapore’s 90-plus international schools, which are operated by various independent owners and education groups and follow international curricula?

It’s not a case of one being better than the other as both local and international schools have their pros and cons. Instead, it’s all about finding the right school for your child. To help you make that decision, we look at the advantages of sending your child to an international school in Singapore.

Choice of curricula

International schools have the freedom and flexibility to offer different curricula, which may be aligned with that of your home country. There is the widest choice of International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, with 28 offering the IB Diploma Programme.

Tanglin Trust School is the only international school to offer a choice of either the IBDP or A Levels.

Other schools follow the UK National Curriculum and teaching systems of the US, Germany, France, Australia, India, Switzerland, Japan and the Netherlands.

Academic performance

Many of Singapore’s international schools perform well above global averages for the IB, GCSEs and A Levels. 23 of the 28 schools in Singapore offering the IBDP are international, and in 2020 Singapore’s average DP score of 34.52 surpassed the global average of 29.9.

For A Levels, Tanglin Trust School’s A Level results for 2020 were above UK averages. 68% of all grades achieved were an A* or A, compared to 38.1% in England; 98% of all Tanglin grades were in the A* to C range. More than a third of all grades (38%) were an A*, more than double the average in England, where 14.3%* of all grades were an A*.

Tanglin is Singapore's only school to offer a choice of the IBDP or A Levels to its sixth form students

Academic calendar

Most international schools have an academic calendar that runs from June/July to August/September in line with Northern Hemisphere schools. However, there is also a small choice of international schools that start in January, in line with the January to December academic calendar of Singapore’s government-run schools and the Southern Hemisphere. Australian International School (AIS), Middleton International School (Tampines), Middleton International School (Upper Bukit Timah), Dimensions High School, Integrated International School (IIS), and The Grange Institution all begin their academic year in January 2021.

Indian schools including GIIS SMART Campus, NPS International School, Yuvabharathi International School and DPS International School run from April to March.

Campus and facilities

Many international schools in Singapore have outstanding campuses with state-of-the-art facilities, extensive sports and arts facilities, large classrooms and outdoor space. You have a choice of modern, purpose-built campuses such as North London Collegiate School (Singapore), vast campuses such as the very well-established and centrally located Tanglin Trust School, and schools such as International Community School and OWIS that have renovated former government schools.

NLCS (Singapore) is one of the city's newest campuses, having opened in late 2020

World languages

The language of instruction is English but there are many opportunities for students to use their home language too. Starting from as young as two-years-old, international schools teach daily Mandarin sessions; schools offer a wide choice of modern foreign languages throughout primary and secondary; and there are eight international schools in Singapore offering a Chinese-English bilingual programme.

Read more: Which Schools for a Chinese, Bilingual Education?

International faculty and student body

International schools are open to students of all nationalities, although some may offer priority admission for students of certain nationalities. Singaporean students need special approval from the Ministry of Education to study at an international school. Teachers are recruited from countries worldwide with many coming from the UK, the US and Australia.

Small class sizes

Class sizes typically range from 20 – 25 students per class to allow schools to offer a higher degree of personalised learning.

Australian International School's Early Learning Village offers a pre-school education next door to its main campus

Pre-school education

Several international schools in Singapore offer pre-school education for children from as young as two months through to five years old. Children can benefit from being part of a larger school environment with all the opportunities that an all-through school can offer. These can range from access to sports and arts facilities to after-school activities and bilingual programmes. They often have lessons from specialist subject teams, such as Mandarin, swimming, music, dance and PE, and have access to outstanding facilities that smaller nurseries simply cannot offer.

Read more: Pre-Schools on an International Campus


International school fees range from the highest at $40,000 to mid-range of $20-30,000 to around $10-15,000 at some of Singapore’s lower-cost or affordable schools.

Read more: Affordable Schools in Singapore

Extra-curricular activities

Students have the opportunity to get involved with a huge variety of extra-curricular activities. With many having state-of-the-art facilities, international schools are well-equipped to offer a lengthy list of sport, the arts, leadership, hobbies and other activities before and after school hours. Schools actively encourage students to take part in several different ECAs every term.

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