Invictus International School has branched out with a bilingual primary school and a secondary school in Farrer Park.
Invictus International School opened its third Singapore campus – a secondary school and bilingual primary school – in Farrer Park in early 2021. What began as a small standalone primary school has expanded into a small global family of primary and secondary schools. Invictus' latest opening means that it can now offer students an all-through education, as well as one of the most affordable bilingual primary education programmes in Singapore.
Invictus has an existing primary campus in Dempsey and has a reputation for its low-cost primary education. The Centrium campus marks its first move into bilingual and secondary education.
The school is not trying to compete against the likes of top tier schools such as Tanglin Trust; its key rivals are lower cost schools such as Middleton (Tampines), One World International School (OWIS), and The Grange Institution.
It has quickly established its own niche within the Singapore school sector as a centrally located, affordable international school with a strong bilingual programme for both native and non-native Chinese students. Parents looking for a primary Chinese-English bilingual programme (Grades 1-6) for annual fees of $17,000 may quickly forgive the school for its lack of outdoor and sporting facilities. Any school with fees below $25,000 has to make sacrifices somewhere to keep costs low; Invictus parents can choose to pay the money they 'save' on after-school activities.
Invictus is also one of only a few schools in Singapore to offer A Levels, and it certainly provides parents with a more affordable option (annual fees are $22,000 in the Sixth Form). However, for this price, students have a smaller choice of A Level options than a school such as Tanglin Trust; specialist facilities for subjects such as music and science are more basic; and the school's academic performance is still unknown (its first A Level cohort will sit exams in 2023).
Teaching and curriculum
In line with Invictus' existing primary schools, teaching follows the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) in Grades 1 – 6; a key difference will be that instruction will be in both English and Mandarin. The bilingual immersion programme offers classes in English and Mandarin on alternate days; daily Chinese teaching ranges from 60% in Grade 1 Prep to in 40% in Grades 5 and 6. Subjects taught in Chinese include Mandarin language, music, art, and PE; maths will follow the Singaporean curriculum.
The school says: “There are integrated Chinese lessons which include speech and drama, cultural elements and reading programmes. English is the primary medium during maths and science lessons.”
While students can join the Invictus bilingual programme in Grade 1 without Chinese foundation skills, the curriculum is described as “rigorous” and they may struggle in class without supplementary Chinese classes. Joining a bilingual programme requires commitment from the child’s family, and Invictus reminds families that its students need to “have a strong interest to learn Chinese and a willingness to work hard”.
The school says: “Children will be assessed to possess the minimum Chinese skills before they are enrolled into the programme to ensure they can excel in their daily rigorous learning.”
Class sizes are a maximum of 25 students, which is larger than some other bilingual primary schools. As part of an all-through school, students will be able to transition directly into the secondary school, where instruction will be in English.
Invictus is one of just 10 international schools in Singapore where teaching follows the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) in part or full; this thematic approach to teaching subjects is adopted by schools of all budgets, from Middleton Tampines up to SJI International. The IPC is cheaper to teach than the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, which is taught at many international schools in Singapore, but Invictus founder John Fearon has asserted that, “it’s lower cost, not lower quality.”
Grades 7 – 12 follow the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC), and then switch to the British curricula for IGCSEs and A Levels. Invictus is one of only a few schools in Singapore to offer A Levels; others include Tanglin Trust, DPS International School, and Middleton (Tampines) (from 2023).
Leadership and faculty
Founder John Fearon launched the first Invictus School in partnership with the Chip Eng Seng (CES) group in 2016. Fearon stepped away from the Invictus group in 2021; it is still owned by Chip Eng Seng (CES).
The founding principal is Dr Nicholas Duggan, whose experience includes secondary school principal of Yew Chung International School in Beijing, headteacher of St George’s British School Malaga, and headmaster of the first British Independent Boarding School in India, in partnership with King’s College Taunton in the UK.
The bilingual programme’s vice principal is Chia Puay Leng, who has a background of steering the Chinese curriculum for pre- and primary-aged children; most recently she was the director of Chinese bilingual programmes at Repton Schoolhouse.
The new Invictus school is located across three floors of the Centrium Square mixed-use development in Farrer Park. The school has "spacious classrooms, each with a maximum capacity of 25 students per classroom:" While this modern campus feels worlds apart from the school’s charming Dempsey campus in a heritage building, it is well-located for sports facilities and the MRT.
Invictus founder John Fearon says: "I can’t replicate the nature of the Dempsey campus, but I can make every campus beautiful.
Admission and fees
The low-cost school has annual fees of $17,000 for primary and $18,800 for secondary, making it one of the most affordable international schools in Singapore. Expat packages are shrinking and finding the money to pay school fees is becoming a growing challenge for many families who have relocated here. So the time is ripe for an alternative to the traditional and more expensive international bilingual and secondary schools.
Read our review of Invictus (Dempsey) here.
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