Post-16 education in Singapore's international schools
Many international schools in Singapore now deliver an all-through education offering a solid pathway on to universities worldwide – and families are choosing to stay longer in Singapore to complete their child’s education before relocating.
There are 30 schools in Singapore offering the IBDP, including seven that are full IB schools, and a much smaller choice of schools offering A Levels in Singapore; the largest and most international of these is Tanglin Trust School.
The overall standard of IB education in Singapore is very high; 40% of Singapore’s IBDP schools (12 of its 30) are in the global Top 100 ranking for schools by IBDP average score. Every one of the 30 schools in Singapore offering the IBDP are offering parents good results, but they vary greatly in terms of cost, facilities, and curricula that combine the IB with British and other programmes. A school’s position in a results table however is only part of the picture; obviously a quality post-16 education needs to be measured on far more than that.
But what makes an international school’s post-16 education truly outstanding?
In this Award category, we were looking at what schools offer in Years 12-13/Grades 11-12 in terms of choice of subjects and learning opportunities that meet every students’ individual needs, ambitions and potential? We asked, how does the school ensure that no child is left behind. Also, how has the school developed a post-16 learning environment where learning is inspirational, where students are fully supported in their career pathways, and where sixth formers are well-prepared for university/work life?
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.
Strengths of the school include:
The judges were impressed by the choice of A Level and IBDP and the large number of different subjects to support multiple interests and abilities, as well as the strong academic performance of students in both pathways.
The school stands out for several reasons: the strong involvement from the school at an early stage (Year 9) in terms of supporting students in their decision-making for post-16 choices; the broad curriculum for all students including CAS and the school’s own Lifeskills programme; the opportunity for students to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; and the constant updating of the curriculum and investment in facilities.
Lyn Soppelsa, Reviews & Community Editor, Which Media, said:
“Tanglin is a deserving winner of this Award. The choice of pathways for post-16 students in terms of both A Level and IB enables all students to choose a pathway that suits them best. There are high levels of parent satisfaction with the school, with 94% of parents recommending it, and it is held in high regard by both parents and the BSO.”
Matthew Tompkins, CEO and Principal, GEMS First Point School said:
“The opportunity for all students to study the Extended Essay or Extended Project will add further depth to their studies and prepare them very well for university. The results that the students receive are very strong. Their careers support and university guidance signpost excellent opportunities and ensure that their well-informed graduates are successfully placed in their first-choice destinations.
"The school has a strong support network internally to help students develop career aspirations and appropriate destinations. The school also has a strong alumni network to further enhance opportunities and advice that is available to the Tanglin community. It is also great to see that Tanglin has a Lifeskills programme. This will further support their students transition into further education and the world of work. The facilities are also planned to support this and provide specialist areas that encourage development.”
The general feedback from parents is that despite its size, Tanglin has created individual school communities where the individual child 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 recognise that Tanglin is a high-achieving school, but what they really value is its holistic approach to education and well-rounded learning experiences.
"Excellence of teaching staff, extremely passionate, motivated and caring staff. They care about the holistic development of the child as well as academic progress. Very high standards of expectation from all and a supportive and nurturing environment."
"Wellbeing is at the core of Tanglin’s values, and students are supported throughout their journey allowing them to flourish as independent, well rounded children. A fabulous school!"
"The teaching staff are excellent and the general ethos of the school is fantastic. The facilities are ever-improving and the curriculum is constantly evolving to meet the needs of modern life and expectations. My children have thrived and flourished immensely throughout their time at Tanglin."
“Tanglin is the only school in Singapore to offer both the IBDP and A Levels at sixth form level. This is not a story of UK vs International, but considerably more about offering a choice of curricula that plays to the strengths of a child. Renowned for its strong academics, well-rounded, confident students, and unique choice of pathways, it is highly regarded in the UK by both schools and universities.
"Schools in general do not offer both the IBDP and A Levels for two reasons. Firstly, you need a large student body, and secondly, it is expensive to deliver. While most schools fall short on one or the other, Tanglin is a school with a student body of almost 2,800 strong and with fees at the higher end of the scale in Singapore. As a parent, this means you join an all-through school knowing that the school should be able to cater to the learning needs of your child, whatever they may prove ultimately to be.”
Read our full review of Tanglin Trust School here.
In its nomination for this Award, Tanglin said:
“Tanglin’s students often go on to study at the best universities in the world. This is not by chance but by a well-thought process helmed by the Tanglin’s Careers & University Guidance Team. Based at the heart of the school’s Sixth Form centre, the team provides all the information, support and counsel students need to make the right decision about their future academic or career journey.
“It is no small wonder that graduating students often report back to the school that it has prepared them well for the ever-changing and challenging world ahead, as well as helping them to define their core values that cultivate a rewarding and fulfilling post-16 journey.”
Read more about post-16 education in Singapore’s international schools
2021 Singapore IB Results. Click here.
Choosing A Levels vs the IB. Click here.
Where to Get a Vocational Education in Singapore. Click here.
Next: Highly Commended