NPS is a large and popular all-through school offering CBSE, IGCSE and IB pathways; it has one of the most affordable IB programmes in Singapore, delivers consistently high academic results, and is invested in sport.
NPS is popular with Singapore’s Indian expat community due to its ties with the National Public Schools (NPS) Group and The International School of Bangalore (TISB) in India. Since opening in 2008, NPS (Singapore) has established itself as a top performing Indian and international school and drawn on the expertise of its sister schools; India’s NPS schools have a strong track record in CBSE and TISB is a pioneer school for the IB in India. It is one of only two schools in Singapore to offer students the choice of an Indian curriculum including CBSE 10th and 12th Board exams, or an international pathway that includes IGCSEs and the IB Diploma Programme; the other option is GIIS SMART Campus.
As well as offering a dual pathway, NPS is one of Singapore’s most affordable schools for the IB Diploma Programme; annual tuition fees are $27,300 and other schools are charging $40,000 and above. It is also one of Singapore’s consistently top-performing IB schools, with average scores of 37 and above. There is much more to NPS than its academic reputation though. Here’s a school that runs a strong sports programme including cricket, football, basketball and badminton, teaches Hindi and Tamil as language options, has a strong focus on dance in the primary years, and offers a wide range of extra-curricular clubs during and after school.
NPS International School is a school that clearly believes in choice, and it offers a dual pathway for students in both early years and secondary education. For children aged three to five years, parents can choose between a Montessori programme, where students follow a self-paced curriculum within a free, less rigid learning environment, or a nursery and kindergarten programme, which offers a more structured approach to learning listening, literacy and numeracy skills. Both pathways use many UK teaching resources such as Jolly Phonics and the Oxford Reading schemes, and both focus on learning through play as you’d expect in an early years’ environment.
While there is a wide choice of kindergartens and nurseries in Singapore, there are advantages to sending your youngest to an all-through school. Children can benefit from being part of a larger school environment such as NPS with all the opportunities that an international school can offer. These can range from access to sports and arts facilities to after-school activities and bilingual programmes. They will also have access to lessons from the specialist subject teams at NPS, such as languages, music, dance and PE, and have access to outstanding facilities that smaller nurseries simply cannot offer.
In the primary and middle years, Grades 1 to 8, students follow what the school describes as an “integrated programme”. Teaching follows a pre-CBSE and pre-IGCSE foundation level programme and it is oriented towards the IGCSE programme with the vast majority of books being procured from the UK’s Cambridge International group. While not every student will go on to study IGCSEs in the high school, this UK-focused primary education is very good preparation for anyone wanting or needing to switch to the CBSE programme.
As you’d expect from any primary education, teaching covers a breadth of study including the core subjects, as well as history, geography, ICT, drama, PE, art, and languages (Hindi, Mandarin or French). Students are assessed throughout Grades 6-8, helping students to identify which pathway they should follow in high school.
In high school, students can study the two-year IGCSE curriculum, followed by the two-year IB Diploma Programme. Alternatively, students can follow the CBSE programme, which includes Board exams in Grades 10 and 12. Subjects covered include English, languages (Hindi, French or Tamil), maths, science, and social science.
The CBSE and the IB are both academically rigorous pathways. The question for parents is, do you stick with your country’s national curriculum or, now that you have the opportunity, do you explore a new educational system that may be better for your child’s needs and future plans for your family? CBSE is normally the ideal option for Indian nationals who want to continue their children’s education internationally but expect to settle back in India. The IB system is a better option for long term expatriates whose children are more likely to go on to study overseas and remain global expatriates themselves. It’s also worth considering that GCSEs and the IBDP are more widely accepted qualifications worldwide, with the majority of these students attending universities in the UK, US and Europe.
The Indian system is not widely offered in Singapore (there are only five schools here offering either CBSE or ICSE), whereas there are 28 local and international schools offering the IBDP. NPS has become popular as both an IB and CBSE school, particularly with Indian expats, and there is roughly a 50:50 split in Grade 11-12 students studying each programme. It certainly makes NPS an attractive option for families who are considering both Indian and IB options.
Average class sizes across the school are 25, and the average teacher-student ratio for every class is 1:13; these class sizes are smaller than many of the other Indian schools in Singapore.
While NPS is very focused on academia – and its exam results are testament to this – it is reassuring to see that the school does not overlook the arts or sport. There’s certainly a commitment to delivering a well-rounded education here.
In Grades 1-5, students study dance as part of the curriculum, which covers Latino, Hip Hop, Western traditional, Asian, Zumba, and choreography. It has the facilities and teaching experience to train dance teams for competitions and various inter and intra school events – numerous awards stand next to the school’s academic trophies.
Theatre, music, art and design, and drama are included in the curriculum for Grades 1-8, and both drama and art and design have recently been added as IGCSE options; there are also annual school productions that make the most of the school’s impressive auditorium. NPS encourages its IB students to project manage these annual school plays as part of the IBDP’s Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programme. Mentored by teachers, these IB students help to choreograph, direct and produce a play with around 800 students.
In terms of sport, NPS is well-equipped to deliver PE lessons and sports clubs with facilities including a cricket pitch, tennis courts, and basketball courts. The school fields more than 600 students in over 130 sports teams, playing cricket, basketball, tennis, football, athletics and badminton in local and regional competitions. Beyond the timetable, students can sign up to the school’s intensive Sports Academy courses in basketball, badminton and cricket; these seven-week courses are paid-for activities on weekends for the school’s most sports-oriented students. There is also an NPS Cricket Academy that trains advanced players.
NPS offers a wide choice of free extra-curricular clubs during school hours – and at the last count there were 32. There are also many paid-for ECAs held after school, so students have plenty of opportunity to explore their non-academic interests.
The school principal is Matthew Sullivan, who has been at the helm since 2013 and has previous experience at schools in both India and the UK. Most teachers are recruited from India, but many have experience of teaching within international schools. There are dedicated principals and leadership teams for the primary and secondary schools, as well as experienced co-ordinators for IGCSEs, the CBSE and the IBDP.
NPS has a strong track record in the CBSE and IB. In the past six years the school’s average IB score has not fallen below 37 and there are top results of 44 or 45; in the 2020 results, the average score for the cohort of 80 students was 38.65, which is the school’s highest. 44% of students scored 40 points and above; 86% scored 35 points and above. To achieve consistently high scores with such a large cohort is a strong indication of the academic strengths of this school.
For the CBSE, Grade 12 average scores are more varied, from 83 up to 95; in 2020, the school’s average CBSE score was 85.7. 41% of the students achieved 90% and above in aggregate, and 44% of all exams were 90% or more. The pass rate was 100%.
Spread over a campus of six acres, NPS is well-equipped for its large student community. Facilities include two auditoriums, ICT lab, library, innovation lab equipped with VR headsets and iPads, four science labs, music studio, art studios, early years play areas, exam hall, IB resource room, multipurpose dance/drama studio, and canteens for primary and high schools. Sporting facilities include cricket ground, tennis courts, and basketball courts.
NPS has a large, green campus with plenty of open space. It’s an older but well-maintained campus and has a welcoming, lived-in feel that can be lacking at some of the newer schools.
While the majority of students at NPS are Indian nationals, the school community also includes families from Australia, the US, UK, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Canada, and New Zealand. Admissions is open to students of all nationalities, and there is an entrance test from Grade 1 for maths and English.
In line with all Indian schools, the academic year runs from April to March; students taking the IBDP however switch to a July to September academic year in Grades 11-12 as the IB exams are held in May.
Tuition fees at NPS make the school one of the most affordable options for international schooling in Singapore; they range from $13,200 in nursery to $27,300 for the IB programme in Grades 11-12.
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