Astor International School offers a flexible and affordable education for Years 1-7 at its campus in central Singapore, where fees have been set at under $15,000 per year.
Located in the central Tanglin district, this 'affordable' primary school has a shorter four-hour school day that runs from 8.45am to 1.30pm, (with an option to stay for lunch and for extra-curricular activities (ECAs) until 3pm), and claims to follow the example set by the Finnish education system, where less is more. According to Founder Elena Holloway, the flexibility of this programme will give students the time to focus on extra-curricular activities and “external coaches, training, and programmes”.
It is a small and welcoming single-stream primary school with a maximum of 18 students per class; the teacher to student ratio is 1:12 in the pre-primary programme (unique programme for transition from local K2 into international Primary 1) and 1:18 for Years 2-7. Astor has capacity for 150 students and currently enrols 55 students representing 24 nationalities.
“We pride ourselves on our four-hour school day which sets us apart from other learning institutions. The shorter hours allow students to be more focused on their core subjects of mathematics, literacy, humanities and science. At the same time, we encourage our students to develop a love for art, music, dance and drama which are instrumental in their cognitive development.”
Astor opened as Razum in 2019, and is registered with Singapore’s Committee for Private Education (CPE), which regulates the private education sector. In order to be registered, a Private Education Institution (PEI) must meet CPE’s requirements for school premises, quality of academic programmes, teaching staff, and a fee protection scheme. As the school is yet to qualify for the CPE’s Edutrust certification, it can only enrol students with a Dependent Pass, Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP), or PR; foreign students with a Student Pass cannot apply.
For parents looking for a flexible and affordable education, with the option to pay more for ECAs, then Astor is a consideration. As a very small school, it lacks the breadth that a larger school can offer and has fewer facilities; however, it does compensate the lack of onsite facilities by using external facilities for swimming, gymnastics and tennis.
Teaching at Astor follows the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and the Singaporean MOE curriculum for maths and English. The IPC takes a thematic approach to teaching a broad curriculum including science, history, geography, music, drama and PE. All the teachers at Astor are IPC trained.
The school says:
"Through enquiry-based teaching methods and approaches, students at Astor have the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge while becoming lifelong learners with an open-mindedness towards the perspectives of others. We want our students to be internationally minded citizens who leave us with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to participate actively in an exciting global society and ready for the rigors of higher learning and training."
Teachers are recruited from Australia, New Zealand, UK, South Africa, and Singapore. This is Principal Shannon de Winnaar’s first school leadership role; she was previously a classroom teacher at another Singapore school.
ESL support is offered for an additional cost of $250-950 a month. SEN support is offered for an additional cost of $500-4,500 a month.
The school runs regular trips, weekly assemblies, sports and arts days, and ‘learning share’ days for parents and students. The daily timetable starts with a 15-minute fitness session and includes a 40-minute mid-morning break.
There is an option to sign up for daily extra-curricular activities (ECAs), which include foreign languages, art, music, dance, drama, robotics, coding, chess, yoga, board games, swimming, soccer, and many more.
Astor also offers a Gateway programme for pre-schoolers at a local MOE kindergarten; this bridges the gap between a local K2 school year (ending in December) and the start of Grade 1 in August. The programme runs from January to June.
The school says: “We aim to bridge the gap so that students can seamlessly enter Grade 1 at any international school for an August start.”
Located on one floor of an office building, the campus has a library, an arts and craft room, two outdoor playgrounds and an indoor play space.
Singapore has a small choice of lower-cost international schools, which range from the small boutique style of Invictus International School to the large, all-through model of Middleton International School (Tampines) and OWIS. Astor is certainly the former.
Astor says: “Flexibility and affordability are important to us. Keeping our school small, we are open to listen to every parent and to meet every child’s needs in terms of learning as well as scheduling.”
As mentioned above, parents have a choice of two fee packages here. Fees are $14,900 per year for Option A until 1.30pm, which are nearly half of that charged by other international schools in Singapore, plus an admission fee of $1,700. Parents can opt to pay extra for ECAs on certain days, or none at all.
For Option B, the fees are $18,500 a year and students stay until 3pm every day and take part in daily ECAs.
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