Looking for the best of both worlds? Canadian International School’s all-through Lakeside campus is designed as a schools-within-a-school to offer students all the advantages of a smaller school with all the benefits of a large, state-of-the-art campus.
View our tour of the school here.
This 43,000 sq m campus, which opened in 2011, was designed specifically around the schools-within-a-school concept, which offers the advantages found in smaller schools with all the benefits of a large, fully-equipped campus. Students from each ‘school’ can use campus facilities such as the Olympic-sized swimming pool and a two-storey library at dedicated times, and then return to their own age-appropriate school community. The result is a campus that holds onto the spirit of the Canadian International School while offering a tailor-made, intimate learning experience for children at all levels.
The Canadian International School (CIS) offers all three IB programmes – the Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme, and the Diploma Programme – and it has been delivering high-quality education to expats for more than 25 years.
Whereas you'll find that some schools in Singapore jump between the PYP, the IGCSE, and the IBDP, CIS is proud to be a full IB school. Here's a school that believes the PYP and MYP is the best – and most rigorous – preparation for the diploma programme.
While its curriculum is not exclusively Canadian, its approach to teaching does follow Canada’s student-led model. Head of School Peter Corcoran explains,
Our academically rigorous programme is complemented by a broad range of languages, fine arts, athletic and service learning opportunities designed to develop balance, deepen connections and to uncover true learning potential.
As well as its schools-within-a-school model, CIS Lakeside stands out from the rest with its pioneering bilingual programme in Chinese and English to students aged 4 to 10, its focus on outdoor learning, and its unique approach to teaching STEAM (Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Mathematics).
For CIS’ youngest learners (aged two to five), the focus is very much on imagination, creativity, and self-discovery. At Lakeside’s dedicated kindergarten wing, you’ll find a kitchen, black box theatre, STEAM makerspace, and a kindergarten aquatics complex. While there are all the facilities you’d expect from a nursery environment – colourful classrooms, a junior library, and a swimming pool – the kindergarten’s headline attraction is its new Outdoor Discovery Centre, which is used for plenty of play-based learning.
Students in Grades 1 to 6 follow an IB PYP curriculum that’s centred around dedicated English and maths lessons, and specialist classes for Chinese, French, Spanish, physical education, art, music, and drama. As mentioned previously, technology, STEAM, and outdoor learning play a huge role in helping students to reach their potential.
In Grades 7 to 10, students follow the IB MYP to prepare them for Grades 11 to 12, when they study the internationally recognised IBDP; languages offered as part of this curriculum include Chinese, Japanese, and French.
The school’s unique bilingual Chinese-English programme encourages all students from Kindergarten through to Grade 7 to be fluent in both languages. With two qualified teachers per class (one native English speaker and one native Chinese speaker), these lessons offer equal exposure on both languages; around 30% of students in each bilingual class are Chinese, which gives English-speaking students the opportunity to learn from their peers as well as the teachers. All teachers follow the Big Apple programme, a series of books that were written by the school's principal for Chinese language and culture, Huali Xiong, and are used in international schools worldwide.
The school also offers a French-English programme for Grades 1 to 4 from August 2020. Teaching is aligned to the IB’s PYP, which means that students can easily transition from this bilingual programme into the English-only IB Middle Years Programme at the school; it’s the only international school in Singapore where students can study the PYP in French. Students learn the same content as the English PYP, but in two different languages. For example, when studying the ‘Who we are’ inquiry unit, students will learn the different body parts in French, and how the brain functions in English.
Students attend classes in either English or French on alternating days. To encourage students to become ‘bilingual, biliterate and bicultural’ the programmes focus on hands-on, immersive activities to teach not just the language, but the culture as well. Each class is taught by two qualified teachers per class (one native English speaker and one native French speaker). The benefit of this two teacher model is that learning is immersive, as teachers only speak their respective language in their classroom.
Fees for the French-English bilingual programme are slightly higher than the English stream. Students can enrol in Grade 1 without any French or English skills; so, you do not need to be a French speaker to join the programme. In terms of assessment, French language students write the DELF prim exam (for children aged 7 to 12 years) in Grades 4, 5, and 6.
Makerspaces are mainstream in many Canadian schools, and CIS has adopted this hands-on, creative way of learning about science, technology, entrepreneurship, arts, and mathematics. Its STEAM makerspaces encourage teamwork, collaboration, and design thinking. Students build and work on projects using traditional equipment such as wood-working machinery and sewing machines, and cutting-edge technology such as 3D printers and GCC laser engravers; early years students will work on projects as simple as making their own lunch.
An annual STEAM Fair inspires both parents and children with innovative activities such as building a rollercoaster or learning to code a robot. Walking around the school, there are many examples of the school's investment in STEAM, and it is investing a further $250,000 next year to provide additional STEAM facilities for its secondary students.
It’s only natural that schools embrace technology in the classroom, and CIS is no exception. As part of the school’s digital literacy programme, it's compulsory for Grades 4 to 6 to have an iPad, and Grades 7 through to 12 to have their own MacBook. Unlike many other international schools who charge a technology fee and provide an Apple device, CIS believes that personal ownership increases motivation and engagement. With most families owning an iPad anyway, it also reduces the need for an additional fee.
Learning at CIS extends beyond the academic, and music, dance, drama, and visual arts are all an integral part of the curriculum. Its thriving arts programme includes musical ensembles and bands, choral groups, productions, performances, exhibits, and participation in the Singapore Youth Film Festival. With a 500-seat theatre and plenty of modern studios and practice rooms, CIS is well-equipped to deliver on its promise to encourage creativity.
CIS is a big believer in outdoor learning, so it comes as no surprise that it has invested in a stand-out Outdoor Discovery Centre. Opened in 2015, this purpose-built kindergarten facility is much more than a playground; it is used by teachers as an extension of the classroom to teach maths, science, language, and other subjects. You’ll find sand and water areas, a sound garden, eco pond, bike track, tunnels, art walls, a herb and vegetable garden, and a mud kitchen. If hands-on exploration and learning in a natural environment is important to you, then you’ll struggle to find a better outdoor classroom in Singapore than here.
"For many of our children who live in Singapore, it's the first opportunity to get real mud between their toes and feel what real grass feels like. It's a great experience for learning opportunities."
There are many ways in which CIS takes learning outside the classroom. Competitive and recreational sports run throughout the school year, and include cross country and football. Outdoor learning programmes include Open Minds, which sees Grades 1 to 6 spend up to a week in real-world settings; Grades 4 to 11 travel to countries including Thailand, China, Cambodia, and Canada for excursion weeks; and secondary students participate in community service projects such as planting friendship groves in Ladakh.
The campus is overseen by Head of School Peter Corcoran, and each school is managed by its own principal. He came to CIS three years ago, with 25 years' experience in the Canadian school system and director positions in schools within South Korea and Qatar.
Read our Q&A with Peter Corcoran here.
Around 30% of teachers are recruited from Canada, with the rest coming from the US and Europe.
The school is now better known as CIS rather than the Canadian International School – a deliberate move to emphasise its international nature.
While it is keen to hold onto a "Canadian warmth", Head of School Peter Corcoran explains that,
"We're a true expat school, When you walk in our hallways reflect, there's no one nationality that dominates our school."
Students wear a casual uniform that's really practical and comfortable, and ideal for Singapore's climate. The academic year runs from August to June.
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In 2021, the IB average score was 37.9, and the pass rate was 100%; 24% of the cohort passed with the Bilingual Diploma.
The school’s 2019 results for IBDP showed an average score of 34, which was higher than the global average of 29.62. Students were accepted at universities in the US, Canada, and the UK, as well as Australia, Europe, and Asia.
Read our roundup of Singapore's 2021 IB results here.
The Lakeside campus, which has 2,100 students, is the newer, bigger brother of the two CIS schools. It has classrooms connected to learning pods, sporting, outdoor, and playground facilities, as well as a performing and fine arts centre, 500-seat theatre, Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a two-storey library. There’s also a brand new Outdoor Discovery Centre that must be the envy of its competitors. CIS has been granted a 27-year lease at Lakeside by the Economic Development Board, which controls all land that can be zoned for international school use, so parents can be reassured that the school is here for the long-term.
As the name suggests, it is next to a lake, and is also within walking distance of an MRT station. The school also offers a bus service.
Meals are delivered to early years students, while primary and secondary students can purchase food at the large canteen using their access card. There's also a Red Dot cafe on campus, which is popular with students and parents alike.
CIS has an extensive programme of co-curricular activities (CCAs). This includes a range of mother tongue and language acquisition classes, which are run after school by independent providers.
The school has a strict security system, and all visitors must hand over ID and wear a pass around the campus. Everyone wears a pass which is used to access lifts and different areas within the school. There's a dedicated nurse for both primary and secondary students.
In terms of service and leadership, CIS involves students in both local and global activities. Whether home or away, students are offered some eye-opening opportunities to learn about independence, environmental issues, and global matters beyond the limits of a traditional classroom.
The school says:
"We are connected to a variety of voluntary projects both inside Singapore and beyond, such as an orphanage in Cambodia and community building in Nepal. We have a number of staff members who are very dedicated to community service and it's an important part of the IB programme for us."
According to the school, around 80% of its parents now fund or partially fund their child's education rather than receiving an education allowance from their employer. Fees are among the highest in Singapore (ranging from $32,100 to $40,900, which is hardly surprising for a school that is employing international teachers, providing state of the art facilities and offering three IB programmes).
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