WINNER: Best Schools Award (Singapore) 2022 for Best New School

North London Collegiate School (Singapore) is awarded the WhichSchool Advisor (Singapore) Best Schools Award 2022 for Best New School (Opened 2020-21).
WINNER: Best Schools Award (Singapore) 2022 for Best New School
By Carli Allan
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LET'S GO



Winner of the WhichSchoolAdvisor (Singapore) Best Schools Award 2022 for Best New School (Opened 2020-21) is North London Collegiate School (Singapore).

Highly Commended are OWIS (Suntec) and Brighton College (Singapore).

New international schools in Singapore
Seven international schools opened in Singapore between 2020-21. 2020 was a turbulent year with campuses closing for several weeks, a move to online learning, exams being cancelled, and new restrictions being brought into campuses across Singapore. These schools opened at a time when open days were very restricted and new families joining were unable to attend the ‘normal’ welcome events, so they faced a much bigger challenge of building a school community from scratch.

New schools were looking to meet several needs of parents. Affordability (expat packages are shrinking and finding the money to pay school fees is becoming a growing challenge for many families who have relocated here); offering of the British curriculum (with some of the most well-established British schools having long waitlists, demand for UK curriculum schools is high); and location (with new developments in areas in Singapore’s north and west, parents are looking for schools away from central Singapore).

But what makes a new international school truly outstanding?
In this Award category, we were looking at the quality of provision, the school feel, the leadership style and the feedback from parents at each new school in Singapore. This category includes a diverse range of schools and we were looking at whether each school is meeting the profile of the students that it targets. There are schools with vastly different fee points here and different levels of offering, so we asked if these are aligned. And, while these schools have only been open for less than two years, we looked for which school had the greatest potential, ambition and growth. 

How are the Winners and Highly Commended schools decided?
Our panel of expert judges selected the Award winners based on their strengths; feedback from parents, teachers and students in WhichSchoolAdvisor surveys; information in the Award entries submitted by schools and parents; and reviews by WhichSchoolAdvisor (Singapore) editors.

Why did NLCS (Singapore) win?



Strengths of the school include:

  • Finding a niche in the Singapore school sector: NLCS (Singapore) aims to be one of the most academically rigorous schools in Singapore and parents say that it is attracting a certain type of family - those who put academics first – with its culture of scholarly learning. It is niche, in terms of its academic rigour (it has really set itself apart from the rest by being an academically selective school) and cost (it is one of Singapore’s most expensive schools with fees ranging from $32-48,000).
  • Although it is still early days, the school is earning its reputation as a school for ‘academically ambitious’ families. Its track record in the UK, Jeju and Dubai and the feedback of parents is testament that the school can (and is) delivering a learning experience similar to that of NLCS UK but in an international context.
  • The NLCS ethos: This has quickly become embedded into the school culture at here; in particular, the academic enrichment programme is one of its strengths; students can attend the McCabe Lecture series, academic societies and seminars, which all helps to promote the atmosphere of scholarship and subject specialism here.
  • Value for money: Parents looking for a high achieving school (based only at this time on NLCS’ reputation) are willing to pay the high fees, citing excellent teachers, pastoral care and academic focus as its strengths.
  • Growth: Its ambition is matched by growth. NLCS (Singapore) is a fast growing school and is well placed to compete against top tier schools such as Tanglin, Dulwich College (Singapore), UWCSEA and Singapore American School. The school has already rolled out all grades (FS1-Year 13) and it had a founding cohort of almost 400 students from Pre-K to Grade 10; the Sixth Form opened in August 2021.
  • Opening during Covid-19: Due to Covid-19 restrictions the opening of the campus was delayed by one term, but parents comment positively on how well the school managed to set up a temporary campus in Suntec.
  • Facilities: While other new schools moved into existing buildings NLCS (Singapore) opened in a purpose-built campus in Bukit Merah. It’s a modern campus with a small footprint but some seriously impressive facilities including a performing arts centre modelled on NLCS London.
  • Leadership: One of its key strengths is having Paul Friend as the founding principal. Friend moved to Singapore from his position as principal at North London Collegiate School’s first international school in Jeju, Korea. Prior to this, Friend held four headships, including one at Dulwich College Shanghai.

The Judges’ View



The judges were impressed by the school’s “impressive growth”, “great recommendation rate” and clear vision; NLCS (Singapore) has targeted Singapore’s most academic students, maintained its selective admissions policy and kept in line with the NLCS brand that is so well-established in the UK.

As the judges said, “It won’t be for every parent but it’s very clear on its aims and goals, and it has become firmly established in a short space of time.” 

Chris Short, Executive Superintendent, NACIS Shanghai said:

“NLCS has very quickly built a presence on the island with impressive initial growth. This is all the more impressive given they were pre-operational in the height of the Singapore circuit breaker Covid-19 measures which then caused them to open in temporary accommodation until their impressive new campus could be finished.

"The school has identified a clear position for itself in the market and parental feedback suggests they have done a very good job of meeting the needs of those parents and their students.”

Zara Harrington, Principal, Safa British School in Dubai, said:

"The full focus on academic rigor is key for this school moving forward. With a proven track record in other countries, NLCS (Singapore) is going to be a force. Opening a new campus in the pandemic is by no means easy and the ambitions of the leadership team are clear and just what the parents are looking for. The steady growth of students and the academic development here place this school as a winner.”  

The Parents’ View



Feedback is overwhelmingly positive for NLCS (Singapore) with parents listing teacher qualifications, the school ‘brand’ and its reputation, curriculum, and location as its strengths.

For parents here, the priority is for the school to deliver excellent exam results (28%) and to be a happy place to learn (27%); parents are also driven to the school by its choice of curricula (27%). The school is rated lower by parents for sport and the arts (but still seen by nearly half of parents to be in the top 25% of Singapore schools). (WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey). While the fees are among the highest in Singapore, 55% parents agree that these fees represent good value for money.

Testimonials include:

“The learning culture is very inspiring. It has built confidence and curiosity in my child, It’s also a safe school with no bullying,” says one parent. The school "challenges the kids constantly in interesting ways. It’s genuinely ambitious for them to learn. It has good pastoral care," says another.

"The school has highly qualified teachers who not only help with improving the students academically, they also truly care about their wellbeing. My children's grades have greatly improved just in their first school year at NLCS, they have developed more confidence and independence, and I've experienced very positive interactions with teachers during parent-teacher consultations."

The WhichSchoolAdvisor Review



“The all-through school entered the Singapore market as one of the few British schools to offer an inquiry-based IB education, believing that there is room for a high performing IB school founded on British traditions. The school says it is "for the academically ambitious”.

“With its central location, purpose-built campus, strong links to its UK mother school, and a very experienced and convincing founding head, there is no doubt NLCS has entered the competitive Singapore schools’ market with a unique offering.”

Read our full review of NLCS (Singapore) here.

Read more about which new schools are opening in Singapore over the next two years here.

Next: Highly Commended

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