• Large green campus with plenty of open space
• Cosy and welcoming campus
• Low-rise classroom buildings
It’s often said that developing a positive and nurturing school takes time. Well, since opening more than 45 years ago, Dover Court (DCIS) has taken the time to build a welcoming campus that looks as good as it feels. From the tree lined driveways, to the low-rise classrooms blocks, and from the wide-open playing fields to the shaded play and learning spaces, this school has a lovely feelgood factor about it.
Read our review of Dover Court here.
In contrast to the high-rise blocks in the surrounding area, Dover Court feels cosy and intimate – and worlds away from the bustling city life of Singapore. While the buildings look more dated than other schools in the area – some are converted 1950s British Army barracks and others are actually purpose-built as recently as 2018 – there’s something quite charming about this campus. And it’s impossible not to be impressed by the 12 acres of grass fields that surround the school, which must be the envy of many international schools and is enormous given the size of the student body.
DCIS says: “This is our piece de resistance. We have 12 acres of land and plenty of grass, which you won’t find at many schools in Singapore.”
We were greeted with smiles at reception and made to feel welcome as soon as we walked through the front gate. Among the first things we noticed were the gated entrance where the majority of students arrive and leave by school bus, and a sensory garden at the front of the school.
DCIS says: “80% of our students travel by school bus, and we run two buses in the afternoon for students finishing at normal time and for those doing extra-curricular activities.”
• Friendly, popular head teacher
• Dedicated classrooms for Pathway 4 students
• Separate early years area
• Compact, intimate campus
We were taken on a tour of the campus by head teacher Christopher Short, which not only let us see the facilities for the 1,400 students here but also the popularity of Short himself. Here’s a head who knows every student by name, had the time to stop and say hello to every child (and teacher) that we passed, and was endearingly called Mr Shorts by many of the younger children.
DCIS says: “I’ve given up correcting them, so now they all just call me Mr Shorts!”
Read our interview Christopher Short here.
There’s no glitz and glamour at this school. Instead we walked around a cluster of old and new buildings that all felt more traditional than some of the newer schools in Singapore. Both classrooms and specialist facilities were equipped with modern facilities and learning flows seamlessly between indoors and outdoors in every building.
DCIS says: “At a purpose-built school, every classroom tends to be the same size. Here, however, there is a variety of different sized classrooms, which can be used for a variety of different needs. We don’t need to partition rooms for different sized groupings or subjects because we have a choice of flexible learning spaces.”
DCIS has dedicated classroom buildings for the primary and secondary school, with the lower years having ground-floor rooms that lead outside. There’s a self-contained early years section with its own outdoor canteen, play area, and outside learning spaces. For parents interested in the new IBDP programme at DCIS, there are plenty of empty classrooms in its newest building that will be used as the schools expands its sixth form.
All students share specialist facilities including a large multi-purpose hall used for theatrical performances, assemblies, PE and house events; a smaller performance space that’s for everything from music and drama to staff yoga classes; a wonderfully colourful and engaging library; canteen; and cafe that’s described as the “hub of the school”. Sporting facilities include a shaded swimming pool with plenty of seating for proud parents to watch galas; a huge six-lane running track; full sized-football pitch; basketball courts; play areas with climbing frames and a vertical playground; and well-maintained grass playing fields.
You really get the feeling that all students have the run of the entire campus here, and that all facilities are shared and well-used. During a changeover between classes, we saw an FS2 class walking to the swimming pool, secondary students chatting over a coffee in the cafe, a Year 2 class leaving the vertical play area, and a Year 3 class arriving at the sensory garden.
DCIS says: “Our sensory garden has a mixture of sounds and touch, and it’s used a lot by all year groups. You may see Year 2 students looking at bugs and Year 4s looking for symmetrical shapes, for example.”
DCIS is known as one of the leading providers of SEN in Singapore, so we were interested to see how the school is equipped to offer ‘learning for everyone’. The SEN classrooms used for Pathway 4 students are located in a quieter corner of the school, which seemed ideal for children with severe and profound learning difficulties; the school also has an art sensory room and therapy suite. We were more impressed to see a lack of special needs areas and segregation. SEN classes in specialist non-academic subjects including music, PE and IT are integrated with mainstream classes, so we saw several SEN students working alongside their mainstream peers in standard classrooms.
DCIS says: “We’re an inclusive school and we want to make sure that students are interacting with each other. However, some of the children here need to work in a quieter area, and that’s why we have some dedicated classrooms away from the rest.”
During our tour we saw some students in PE uniform, and others in school uniform – both looked smart but comfortable and ideal for the Singaporean climate. We saw plenty of smiley faces and well-behaved students of all ages, and we met several very friendly teachers en route.
While the school has held onto its individual identity, it is also proud to be part of the Nord Anglia family. There are displays around the campus showing the school’s involvement in the Global Campus programme and overseas expeditions.
• Stimulating classrooms with plenty of learning resources
• Well-equipped specialist rooms
• Free-flow for indoor/outdoor learning
DCIS has created inviting learning spaces, with individualised classrooms that have age appropriate chairs and desks for the and a flexible layout for different learning activities. These are not the not the most highly decorated classrooms you may see – although there are still some displays of student work – but this can be distraction, particularly for children with SEN. Instead, this campus is brought to life through brightly coloured classroom furniture, painted walls, and views of greenery through the classroom window.
The specialist facilities were well-maintained, modern and well-equipped for primary and secondary syllabuses – and there are certainly signs of Nord Anglia’s investment in the school. From the workstations in the science lab to the workbenches in the design and technology workshop, the rooms offer plenty of opportunity for hands-on learning – and they were all spacious and well-lit. There are also music rooms, a fully equipped Juilliard music suite, a TV studio, and computer labs.
The early years classrooms are bright and engaging, and they appear to be very well-equipped and laid out for different learning experiences. The outside area is filled with primary colours, water tables, craft tables, bikes, and trays of learning resources. It all looks cheerful, stimulating, and creative enough for multi-sensory, play-based approach to learning. We saw plenty of areas for children to gather in year groups and smaller groups to experiment, paint, read, build and generally have a fun time.
DCIS says: “A lot of the early years curriculum is about free flow, and the children can easily move around here between indoors and outdoors.”
Dover Court is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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