Class of 2021: A Year in Review

As one calendar year ends and another begins, we look at the big news stories of 2021 and speak to the principals at some of Singapore’s international schools about their highlights of the past year.
Class of 2021: A Year in Review
By Carli Allan
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After a turbulent year in 2020 with campuses closing for several weeks, exams being cancelled and new restrictions being brought in to campuses across Singapore, 2021 started to show signs of a return to a 'new normal'.

It's been a year when students could sit exams again (many IB schools were able to take the exam route in May); co-curricular activities and competitive sport are back on the timetable; and schools have remained open for nearly the entire 12 months. takes a look back at the biggest news of 2021 and also asks international schools across Singapore  – what has been the highlight of your year?

New: Which schools are opening in 2021-22?

One World International School (OWIS) announced plans to open its third campus in August 2023, an all-through school for 1,500 students in the Punggol Digital District (PDD).  The group also launched a new campus in Suntec City for 300 students in August 2021; open for Kindergarten through to Grade 5 (it plans to go up to Grade 8), OWIS Suntec Campus has annual tuition fees starting at $18,860.

Knightsbridge House International (KBH) opened in August to offer a stripped-back version of an international education to children aged six to 12 years old. With an annual fee of $12,000, this new standalone primary school offers parents a much cheaper alternative to some of the top international schools in Singapore, where fees can reach upwards of $40,000.

The EtonHouse education group will open its third Middleton International School campus in early 2022. Located in western Singapore, MIS West Coast will be a standalone pre-school and primary school with annual fees of less than $20,000.

Singapore American School (SAS) started work on a $400 million campus upgrade at its 36-acre Woodlands site to include a new athletics facility and two new swimming pools, new elementary and middle schools, and upgraded facilities for the arts, science, technology and robotics. Around 60% of the campus will be completely rebuilt as part of the renovation, which is due to be completed by 2026.

XCL World Academy was announced as opening in August 2022 in a purpose-built campus in Yishun for 1,500 students in Nursery through to Grade 8, making it the fourth international school in the city to offer a US-based education.

The private education group XCL Education, which acquired the former GEMS World Academy in December 2020, officially renamed the school, XCL World Academy. The school has plans to offer a new choice of pathways – Advanced Placement, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme or Career Programme, or a WASC accredited high school diploma.

In 2021, launched the inaugural Best Schools Awards (Singapore) celebrating excellence in education. Voting closes at the end of the January, so don't miss your opportunity to nominate your school or principal.

Principals: What has been the highlight of 2021 at your school?

Tanglin Trust School

“In yet another extraordinary year, much has been achieved at Tanglin. One highlight is the construction of the new Tanglin Centenary Building. It is fascinating to watch this 11-storey building push skyward. It was designed to benefit the entire Tanglin community; in particular, our students who will have even more opportunities as part of their Tanglin education. Upon completion in 2022, the building will accommodate almost a quarter of the total floor space on campus.

"It will house state-of-the-art facilities including the [email protected] which will offer intellectual stretch and challenge, an Olympic-length pool, a bespoke climbing wall, a 1,300 sqm gymnastics centre, a new music school, a dining hall for infants, and a co-working space for parents – a first for international schools in Singapore.” Craig Considine, CEO at Tanglin Trust School

Canadian International School (CIS)

"One of the highlights of the last semester has been our 30 days of gratitude. Primary school students and teachers practised gratitude throughout the month of November. Both teachers and students highlighted the social and emotional benefits of taking time to pause and reflect on what we have.

"We stopped to notice colours, we thought about friends and family, we expressed gratitude for food and what we find inspiring in nature. At the end of the month, our students posted a gratitude leaf to an incredible banyan tree designed by our early years' integrated arts teachers." Dr Colleen Drisner, Primary Principal, CIS Lakeside campus

Razum International School

"What a year it has been at Razum. We have completed several amazing International Primary Curriculum (IPC) units, most recently we became scientists and completed several experiments to see how plants grow. During our maths lessons this year we opened Razum Mart, a shop with several items of food all barcoded, Singapore money, a cash register, shopping baskets and more, where we could learn all about money in a real-life way.

"We continued to enjoy our celebrations where we take a day to complete art, craft, cooking etc to match the celebration like, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Halloween and more." Shannon de Winnaar, Principal, Razum International School

Dulwich College (Singapore)

"The key highlight at Dulwich College (Singapore) this year is the commencement of the final phase of our campus development programme which includes a state of art, seven storey innovation hub which will provide additional learning spaces, including film and media suites, three additional black box theatres, a professional teaching kitchen, technology rooms, and a fabulous STEAM workshops to accommodate our SE21 STEAM and Entrepreneurship initiative.

"There will be also an additional 400-seat multi-purpose auditorium and another gymnasium, tennis courts, a sports science laboratory, two-storey IB library, workspaces, study rooms and social areas." Nick Magnus, Head of College, Dulwich College (Singapore)

North London Collegiate School (Singapore)

"Launching a new school in August 2020 in the midst of the pandemic has been a truly remarkable journey, demonstrating the resilience, grit and innovation of teachers and students alike. Since first opening its doors to students, North London Collegiate School (Singapore) has met with resounding success and, in a short span of eighteen months, now has over 750 students on campus.

"It has been wonderful to see how readily the NLCS ethos has become embedded into our school culture.  The academic enrichment programme – whether the McCabe lectures, the seminar programme or the ongoing development of academic societies – is already a major strength of the school."
Paul Friend, Principal, North London Collegiate School (Singapore)

The Perse School (Singapore)

"It has been a challenging year, once again, for every school and the world whilst we continue to move forward and recover from Covid. Our teachers worked tirelessly to make Home Based Learning engaging for all students when this was necessary earlier in the year. Our parents have been extremely supportive and thankful for the challenges we overcame to turn this into a positive and enjoyable experience for all our children.

"Our families came back to school in person having had the best opportunities possible to learn online, whilst also thoroughly enjoying themselves and racing into school ready to continue their learning IN SCHOOL! As an educator, HBL was always going to be a challenging situation, but we have made the most of this time and created resilient students who are able to cope well during a somewhat unprecedented and stressful situation for the whole family."
Benyna Richards, Principal, The Perse School (Singapore)

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