Sports education in Singapore's international schools
Walk through many school gates here and you’ll find outdoor Olympic-sized pools, climbing walls, gymnasiums, full-size rugby/football pitches, and CrossFit training rooms. There is growing competition between Singapore schools to build the best sporting programmes in the country, and to give students the education, skills and confidence to train like professional athletes. In recent years, schools in the city-state have launched elite athlete programmes that demand more commitment, training and talent than extra-curricular clubs and school sports teams.
With Covid-19, it's been an extraordinary couple of years; overnight, school playing fields and sports courts were deserted, gyms were left empty, and swimming pools were shut down. There may have been a temporary halt to competitive and team sports (as well as CCAs) but many Singapore schools found fresh and innovative ways to keep sport on the curriculum. And, now that restrictions are lifted, it's encouraging to see the enthusiasm, effort and support from schools to help get students back on track.
But what makes a school outstanding for sport?
In this Award category, we were looking for schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to developing the sporting skills of its students through the provision of state of the art facilities and coaching programmes. Which schools have developed an inclusive, sport for all ethos that caters for all abilities and ages in both PE and after-school programmes? Who is the best for offering a wide breadth of sport, as well as providing opportunities to take part in both non-competitive and competitive sports?
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:
It is clear that sport is very much part of the AIS culture. The judges felt that AIS has an impressive ‘no cut’ ethos that helps everyone who wants to be part of a team achieve their goals, and they liked its superb team culture. The school was recognised for providing a wide range of sports within the curriculum, giving students opportunities to represent the school and compete in a variety of different sports, and using sport to develop not just physical skills, but life skills too.
Matthew Tompkins, CEO and Principal, GEMS First Point School in Dubai, said:
"AIS provides for a wide range of sports within its curriculum and opportunities for students to represent the school and compete in over 10 different sports. It is fully inclusive in its approach to school sport and fosters a no-cut ethos to ensure that all students who want to, can represent the school competitively.
"The Athlete Development Programme (ADP) is a great opportunity for the highest performing athletes to be stretched and challenged and to mix with other elite atheletes."
The judges were impressed by the Athlete Development Programme, which helps to develop sports psychology, training principles, skill acquisition and nutrition and injury management.
Robin Giles, Head of Sport and Outdoor Education, Shebbear College, UK, added:
“It is great to see a non-sports specific Athlete Development Programme (ADP). This is something that seems to be common now in the best schools, but a nice twist is that it is not sports specific, giving people a chance to not specialise early.”
Parent feedback focuses on the school's strong sports programme, which runs alongside a choice of academic pathways (the IB or the Australian HSC) within a non-selective student community. The AIS’ Athlete Development Programme is praised for pushing students to their limits and "helping athletes in terms of fitness and wellness to succeed"; coaches are described as “very supportive” and the campus has "great facilities with lots of fields and lots of space".
“Unsurprising for an Australian school, sport and physical education are an important part of life at AIS. A Smart Steps gym is used to develop teamwork and motor skills from a young age, and AIS fields 100-plus teams in 17 competitive sports ranging from athletics and football to swimming and netball. Whether competing in a regional fixture or taking part in a curriculum PE lesson, you get the feeling that students feel a great sense of pride when wearing the green and gold AIS sports jersey. There's also a great team spirit here, whether in the Year 12 mini Olympics at the end of mock exams, a Year 4 athletics carnival or the secondary school cross country race.
“This is a school that encourages and celebrates students' sporting ability at all levels; with a no cut policy and a huge choice of sports on offer, there are opportunities for every student to train, compete and most importantly enjoy the benefits of staying active.
"It also offers pathways for its most talented athletes in Years 7-12 to reach their full potential and work towards university scholarships and competitive sport. The Athlete Development Programme includes a week-long training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, an excellent opportunity once Covid-19 restrictions are eased."
Read our full review of Australian International School (AIS) here.
Read more about sport in Singapore's international schools. Click here.
Next: Highly Commended