Built on the foundations of a highly respected British independent school, Dulwich College (Singapore) offers an enhanced UK curriculum with a dual language approach to Mandarin, the IBDP, an exciting STEAM initiative, and a global creative arts programme. But, as one of Singapore’s most expensive schools, it all comes at a very high price.
In just a few years, a place at Dulwich College (Singapore) has become much sought-after. This is a college that has so much more to offer than just a name, although its links to one of the UK’s most highly respected independent schools – Dulwich College – will certainly appeal to many.
Located in western Singapore, Dulwich College (Singapore) is a UK-curriculum school for two to 18-year-olds. The curriculum ticks all the boxes for a British education with its offering of IGCSEs, the IB Diploma Programme, house-based tutor groups, and more than 300 extra-curricular activities. However, as well as being deeply rooted in British independent school traditions, Dulwich College takes a very global approach to education with its dual language curriculum from early years, STEAM initiatives and collaborations with its global network of sister schools.
In the College’s own words,
“It is an international school with British independent school ethos and values, which draws upon 400 years of excellence and tradition from Dulwich College.”
The school opened its doors in August 2014 with 880 students and has grown to more than 2,000 students. It’s the newest addition to the family of Dulwich College International (DCI) schools, which includes colleges in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Seoul, Singapore and Yangon, as well as two high schools in Suzhou and in Zhuhai, primarily for Chinese students. The schools operate in partnership with Dulwich College, the group's founding school in London.
With its network of 10 international schools in Asia, Dulwich College (Singapore) is one of the biggest brands of British public schools overseas. In line with its mission of ‘One College with Many Campuses’, the Singapore-based College works with its international peers to offer students opportunities in academia, sport, and the creative arts that go above and beyond the curriculum.
The College adds,
“With the growth of our network, students can transfer from one DCI college to another with minimal disruption to their academic progress. Students can continue their education exactly where they left off, and families can feel comfortable moving within a network of colleges united by a common academic ethos and philosophy.”
Dulwich College (Singapore) is also closely connected to Dulwich College in London, an academically selective all-boys’ school. The Deputy Master from Dulwich College inspects the College annually to ensure, “we uphold the Dulwich reputation for excellence”. Students who graduate from Dulwich College (Singapore) become International Old Alleynians and members of the prestigious Alleyn Club based in London.
Dulwich College (Singapore) guides children on a learning path that is steered towards a Western higher education. All teaching at its DUCKS, Junior and Senior schools follows an enhanced form of the English National Curriculum. As well as the core subjects, there is a strong emphasis on specialist teaching in subjects such as science, art and design, music, geography, history, ICT, PE, and PSHE. One of the College’s strengths is its dual language approach to teaching Mandarin in DUCKS.
The College says,
“As an internationally-minded school we believe in the importance of our young people acquiring confidence and competence in languages other than English.”
In keeping with Dulwich College tradition, the early years centre for children aged two to seven (toddler to Year 2) is endearingly known as DUCKS. In the Foundation Stage, teaching follows the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework and children learn through “purposeful play combined with a focus on learning to read and beginning to write in both English and Mandarin”. Key Stage 1 students then move onto an enhanced version of the ENC.
DUCKS immerses children in a dual language environment, and each class is taught by at least one native English speaking teacher and one native Mandarin speaking assistant teacher. As the College says, “our aim is for our children to be confident and competent in both languages”.
The Junior school for Years 3 to 6 continues to offer an enhanced UK curriculum that “develops international mindedness”. From Year 6, specialist teachers take lessons in subjects including music, art and design, and ICT. Students have daily Mandarin lessons, which teach Mandarin as a native language, second language or foreign language; these lessons also use art, music and drama to teach students the local culture and traditions.
The Senior school is open for Years 7 to 13; from Year 9, students follow the IGCSE syllabus followed by the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in Years 12-13 .Dulwich College (Singapore) offers an enhanced range of topics in the curriculum, which “aligns us with the expectations of top independent schools in the UK”.
From Year 7, students choose a modern foreign language (French, German or Spanish) and continue to study Mandarin. Students study their IGCSEs over a three-year period, rather than the traditional two, from Year 9 here; this is a year earlier than most UK schools. From Years 9 to 11, all students study maths, English literature, English language, physics, chemistry and biology, and have a choice of four other subjects.
The College says that the extra year for IGCSEs, “allows for the development of core skills across the curriculum that will allow our students to learn to the best of their ability, while leaving time for important enrichment activities to be integrated into the learning experience”. It’s an interesting approach to secondary education that recognises the importance of research, self-management, thinking, communication and social skills.
“We aim to develop confident, thoughtful, and outward-looking young people who have a passion for learning by delivering a rigorous academic programme. We believe that successful students are not defined solely by their attainment in tests and exams.”
From Year 9, students are guided by a dedicated team of university counsellors to prepare them for further education and guide them in their choices for university.
The College offers activities outside the curriculum such as music and drama festivals and sports tournaments.
For such a large school, class sizes remain small – 16-20 in DUCKS, 22 from Years 1 to 10, and 18 in Years 12 to 13.
As well as following the traditional teaching methods that public schools such as Dulwich College UK are well-renowned for, this Singapore campus is taking an increasingly fresh and dynamic approach to education. This is most evident in the launch of the SE21 initiative, which focuses on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths).
It’s an exciting time for students as phase one robotics, coding, CAD/CAM, graphic design, film, digital, and virtual reality are all added to the curriculum. Based on SE21 initiatives at other Dulwich College International (DCI) schools, we can expect to see DUCKS students designing teddy bears, junior students producing them using 3D printers and sewing machines, and senior students marketing them through links with local businesses.
Sport and the creative arts
Talent is nurtured on the sports fields of Dulwich College (Singapore). As well offering compulsory weekly PE lessons, the school encourages all students to participate in competitive sport. Dulwich College fields teams in regional tournaments; takes part in the annual Dulwich Games for all DCI schools; and hosted the first Dulwich Olympiad in 2015, a large-scale sports competition among all DC schools that is held every four years.
Dulwich College (Singapore) unleashes student creativity in many ways. All students from Year 3 learn to play a musical instrument; art and drama is taught at all levels, including IGCSE; and there are annual productions, concerts and exhibitions for all year groups. Highlights on the calendar include resident workshops by the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Once again, Dulwich College (Singapore) works with its family of DCI schools to offer students more than you’d expect from an average school. There are various annual events, hosted by a different DCI school each year, that encourage competition between students at each campus. Junior students take part in the annual D’ Oscars film-making festival, which culminates in an Oscar-style awards evening; the MADD Festival celebrates music, art, drama and dance; the Dulwich Festival of Music, offers students workshops with professional musicians and culminates in an evening concert; and the list goes on…
Beyond the classroom
Learning at Dulwich College (Singapore) extends far beyond the classroom walls, and the College offers what it describes as various enrichment opportunities to encourage students to, “try new things and discover new talents, while developing existing interests and skills”.
There is an extensive programme of more than 200 co-curricular activities including academics, sports, performance and community service. All students are expected to sign up for at least one service project every year, ranging from the delivery of food parcels and student mentoring to fixing broken wheelchairs and fundraising for a partner school in Cambodia. In terms of outdoor education, there are annual trips for all including both residential trips and sports, music and drama trips.
The College has embraced the traditional English public-school house system, which is seen in the camaraderie, team spirit, sense of community, and belonging that students have throughout the school; this really shines through in the Senior school when students are students placed in house-based tutor groups. It also encourages leadership and teamwork from a young age; for example, Year 7 students support DUCKS children as they arrive at school, Year 8 students mentor their junior peers, and all students from DUCKS upwards can be elected to be on the student council.
“Our house captains, student counsellors, community action groups and ambassadors lead, inspire, and listen to their peers, enabling all students to actively contribute to College improvement projects.”
The community spirit is enhanced by the Friends of Dulwich Committee, which sees parents act as class reps, and organise social and charitable events.
The 2019 cohort of 70 students at Dulwich College (Singapore) sat a total of 705 examinations, and 99% of grades were A*-C (9-4). 75% of students received an A*/A (or equivalent), 90% of grades were A* to B (or equivalent), 30% of students secured 10 A*/A grades (or equivalent), and 61% of students were awarded eight or more A*/A grades (or equivalent).
The school says: "Dulwich College (Singapore) runs a successful three-year IGCSE programme which allows the time to negotiate students through the syllabus in a less rushed or pressured time frame. It allows the College to teach beyond the curriculum whilst giving the flexibility to explore deeper and broader learning and it encourages greater understanding and knowledge which will benefit students in the future, through the IB Diploma Programme and beyond."
The school had its first IB cohort in May 2020, but Dulwich College (Singapore) is yet to publish the results.
Located close to several popular expat neighbourhoods, the Dulwich College (Singapore) campus is a five-hectare site in Bukit Batok, western Singapore. As you’d expected from this successful family of schools, there are state-of-the-art facilities and classrooms on a beautifully landscaped, purpose-built campus.
Each school has its own dedicated building; shared facilities include libraries, three swimming pools, sports fields, rooftop gardens, gymnasiums, three dining rooms and two coffee shops. The jewel in this College's crown is its performing arts centre, which has three theatres, science and IT labs, music and art rooms, and four design and technology workshops.
The most recent addition to the campus is a classic red telephone box, which not only adds to the British charm of the College but also gives students and parents somewhere to call a taxi.
Admission and fees
Dulwich College (Singapore) is a selective school and it only enrols students “who are likely to thrive in the College’s academic programme”. Assessments include an online CAT test for Years 3 and above in English, maths and non-verbal reasoning, as well as a short essay; for Year 2 and below, there is a playroom-based assessment.
Dulwich College is one of Singapore’s most expensive schools – if not the most expensive. Fees for 2019-20 are $36,240 for Year 1, $43,140 for Year 7 and $45,300 for Year 11.
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