There are more than 50 all-through international schools with a primary/junior/elementary school (Years 1-6/Grades 1-5) in Singapore, as well as a small number of standalone primary schools.
These schools differ significantly in terms of their size, curriculum, fees, facilities and community. And, like many international schools here, they offer a broader curriculum than many expats would expect from a primary school in their home country – from bilingual programmes and music education to specialist teachers, swimming and access to secondary school facilities.
There are primary schools offering a choice of internationally recognised curricula including the UK National Curriculum, the International Primary Curriculum and the IB Primary Years Programme.
The majority of schools here tend to be big, with school communities of 1,000-3,000 students and up to 10 classes in each year group. A challenge for many schools therefore is to create a nurturing primary school environment within a much larger school setting.
In this roundup of Singapore's very best international primary schools, we look at which campuses are delivering an outstanding primary education for children in terms of the academic, pastoral care, sport and the arts. We've focused on how schools have developed a learning environment designed for primary learners, and how schools support the transition from primary to secondary school.
Read more: 14 Standalone Primary Schools in Singapore
Winner of the WhichSchoolAdvisor (Singapore) Best Schools Award (Singapore) 2022 for Best Primary School, ICS offers value for money, a traditional ethos and a values-based education, as well as a huge sense of community.
With more than 25 years’ experience, this Christian school delivers an American-based college preparatory curriculum to children from kindergarten through to high school. It is also one of the city-state's only Christian international schools.
ICS is a mid-range school in terms of annual tuition fees (the 20223-24 fees are S$28,928 for Grades 1-5). Unlike some international schools, ICS does not charge a one-off or annual capital levy, making its first-year admission cost of $2,500 one of the cheapest Singapore.
ICS is one of several international schools in Singapore to occupy a former MOE government school. While this means it has an older, less glitzy campus than some of the new purpose-built schools here, ICS does have offer all the charm of a traditional school site, have decent-sized classrooms, and have plenty of outdoor space. This is not a shiny ‘bells and whistles’ school but it definitely feels welcoming.
The general feedback from parents is that ICS's biggest strengths are its community feel, the sense of belonging that students have, and the small class sizes. Parents choosing ICS say that teacher to student ratio, teacher qualifications and student happiness are their key priorities.
Read our full review of International Community School (ICS) here.
SMMIS (pictured above) was Highly Commended in the WhichSchoolAdvisor (Singapore) Best Schools Award (Singapore) 2022 for Best Primary School,
The not-for-profit SMMIS enrols just 275 students aged two to 16 years and offers a full-time Pre-School all the way through to Grade 10/Year 11 (IGCSEs). Though a small school in terms of numbers, it has the facilities of a big school including specialist science labs, a 450-seat auditorium, 25 metre outdoor swimming pool, and Astro-turf football pitch; it’s certainly impressive for a small-scale school.
Principal Elaine Robinson is very popular with parents; “excellent” teachers are frequently described as a strength of the school, as is its friendly and positive environment. This Jewish school is homegrown and combines all the familiarity and community feel of a small school with Jewish values, tradition and culture. It welcomes students from all faiths and nationalities (the community is made up of over 22 nationalities and students come from more than six faiths). The message from SMMIS is very clear: don’t miss the opportunity to have its values-based education because your family is not Jewish.
It also offers value for money. There’s a 15% sibling discount for the second and subsequent children (many schools offer this for the third child); the school only charges a one-off capital levy; and its annual tuition fees of just under $25,000 for primary include local field trips and a daily hot meal.
The general feedback from parents is that SMMIS is a very welcoming, community school that provides the nurturing learning environment they are looking for. Parents make frequent references to small class sizes, excellent facilities, outstanding parent communication, and strong leadership.
Read our full review of Sir Manasseh Meyer International School here.
Tanglin Trust was Highly Commended in the WhichSchoolAdvisor (Singapore) Best Schools Award (Singapore) 2022 for Best Primary School.
Tanglin is a large, popular and high-achieving school that prides itself on being a big school with a small school feel. Throughout its primary/junior school, Tanglin can be relied on to deliver a very British education based on the UK curriculum - and one that prepares students well for taking IGCSEs, A Levels and the IB Diploma Programme.
Tanglin uses its size as an advantage. Students in the primary years have greater access to specialist teachers and secondary/sixth form facilities in areas like music, sport and languages. Beyond the classroom, there are 125 different co-curricular activities running every week and over 90% of Junior children take part in at least one weekly CCA. Younger students mix with older students in a positive way through house events and cross-school initiatives. And, when it comes to student leadership, the school offers a very wide variety of roles of responsibility – fun, creative and well-suited to primary. Younger student leaders wear colourful school caps bearing their leadership role with pride – everything from Sun Monitors to Planet Protectors.
The school also has a very international outlook and it has embedded Positive Education principles across its curricula through age-appropriate wellbeing initiatives. All Junior students have a Wellbeing Diary, for example, with daily tasks such as mindfulness colouring and acts of kindness.
The general feedback from parents is that despite its size, Tanglin has created individual school communities where the individual child in the primary years is well-known and supported by a team of excellent teachers. There are frequent references to personalised learning, allowing individuals to flourish and exploring each child’s potential. Families really value its holistic approach to education and well-rounded learning experiences.
Read our full review of Tanglin Trust School here.
Winner of the WhichSchoolAdvisor (Singapore) Best Schools Award 2022 for Best New School (Opened 2020-21), NLCS (Singapore) targets Singapore’s most academic students, maintains a selective admissions policy and has kept in line with the NLCS brand that is so well-established in the UK.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Read our full review of NLCS (Singapore) here.
Dulwich College is renowned for its academic rigour, well-rounded, confident students, and strong language programme. It is highly regarded in the UK by both schools and universities and has quickly earnt its reputation as one of the top international schools in Singapore; this is in part thanks to the Dulwich College heritage, but also well-earned by the school’s forward-thinking leadership.
Primary schooling is offered within the Dulwich College Kindergarten School (DUCKS) (2-7 years, Nursery to Year 2) and the Junior School (7 to 11 years old, Years 3 to 6), each with their own entrance and facilities on one main campus.
The College’s curriculum is strongly British in character and follows the national curriculum, and this continuity allows students to enter or re-enter the UK education system smoothly. The rigour of the Junior curriculum sets students up well for the challenging secondary curriculum where IGCSEs start in Year 9 as part of a three-year programme. It is also designed to prepare students for taking the 11-plus and other UK public/grammar school entrance exams.
The College delivers an interesting and diverse education that stretches and challenges students of all ages – and has several programmes in place to champion students’ potential in all areas. For example, the Ignite! programme creates opportunities for high performers to thrive and excel across the curriculum – not just academics, but the arts and sport too. There’s also a huge choice of CCAs in the Junior School (choir, techsperts, maths club, yoga, mindfulness or sports clubs); various opportunities to lead (student council, house captains etc); and curriculum enrichment focusing on entrepreneurship, public speaking, coding and more.
Read our full review of Dulwich College (Singapore) here.
Brighton College (Singapore) opened in August 2020 to deliver a very British pre-prep and prep (18 months to 13 years) education to a maximum 550 students – and it has a unique offering of being a standalone primary school with all the facilities of one of Singapore's largest international schools.
The school retains major elements of Brighton College UK’s DNA; it limits classes to three per year group with maximum of 22 students per class; and it delivers a strong Mandarin programme. This does come at at price, and the school’s annual tuition fees of $37,090-38,130 position it as one of the top 15 most expensive schools in Singapore.
Brighton College (Singapore)’s pre-prep (pre-nursery to Year 1) is spread across a dedicated floor of the Early Learning Village (ELV) currently shared between the Australian International School (AIS) and Stamford American International School (SAIS). The prep school (Years 2 – 7) is in a renovated building next to the Early Learning Village and AIS, both located in Serangoon. This is made possible as all three schools – AIS, SAIS, and Brighton College (Singapore) – are 100% owned by the Cognita global schools group.
One of Brighton College (Singapore)’s strengths is that it is purely focused on primary education, which means that all resources, teaching, and facilities within the school are geared towards the five to 12 year age group. There are no immediate plans to open a secondary school, but it is a possibility.
From August 2025, Brighton College (Singapore) will extend its offering to students aged up to 13 years by opening admissions for Years 7 and 8.
Read our full review of Brighton College (Singapore) here.
If parents are looking for an affordable education in Singapore terms (annual fees are $22,500), The Perse delivers a strong primary education built on British values and steered by a forward-thinking leadership team.
The school offers some of the rigour and style of education that The Perse UK offers and teaching follows the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and the Singaporean MOE curriculum for maths, which sets the school apart from the higher number of UK and IB schools here.
There's no outdoor space, so students use outdoor activities at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and nearby park facilities. And, while it definitely lacks the larger, naturally-lit classrooms and huge breakout areas of other schools, it does have two science labs, which are a rarity in standalone primary schools. It also feels very practical with some elements of fun; e.g., there’s an activity room where students can play basketball and giant Connect 4 and a Zen Den for reading and quiet activities.
Parents like the small class sizes, and small school community of less than 400 where every child is known; staff sit with the students every day for lunch, for example. It certainly holds plenty of appeal to families searching for a standalone primary school with centuries-long Cambridge roots, a strong Singaporean maths curriculum, and low fees.
Read our full review of The Perse School, Singapore.
With fees that are nearly half of that charged by other international schools in Singapore, The Grange Institution will appeal to families looking for a cheaper primary education for their child. Located in the north east, this standalone primary for Years 1-6 offers a "broadly-British style of education for children of primary school age”.
Some families may be put off by the lack of facilities, small campus, north-east location, and non-IB curriculum. Others, however, will see the appeal of a school that follows a January to December academic year, has a close-knit community, and all the characteristics of a village school.
The Grange follows the Cambridge International Primary Curriculum and the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). There’s a strong creative focus in The Grange curriculum, and it offers a more relaxed alternative to the very rigorous academic nature of some international and local schools in Singapore.
The general feedback from parents is that The Grange’s strengths are its small size and community feel that creates a learning village. There are frequent references to happy children, friendly teachers and small class sizes.
Read our full review of The Grange Institution here.
Located within a rainforest, this popular international primary school is offering a ‘back to basics’ education and Singapore’s lowest fees, delivered in a homely, nurturing and village-style environment.
The school currently offers the IPC, which is known for its creative and thematic approach to teaching, and this is supplemented by what it describes as “rigorous” English and Mandarin courses and an MOE Singaporean maths curriculum.
The school feels understated and very welcoming, with a learning environment that’s built around nature rather than state-of-the-art facilities. It certainly won’t appeal to everyone; but while some families will be deterred by Invictus’ older, basic campus, others will be drawn to its homely, informal, almost cosy, rural setting.
In contrast to the many large campuses in Singapore, it takes less than 30 minutes to walk around the entire school – and its size feels well-suited to the five to 10-year-old students who are in class. Students can move up to the Invictus Centrium campus, a secondary school that offers GCSEs and A Levels.
Read our full review of Invictus International School (Dempsey Hill) here.