Open from nursery to Grade 10, Sir Manasseh Meyer International School (SMMIS) combines all the familiarity and community feel of a small school with a creative and inquiry-led curriculum, and Jewish values, tradition and culture.
Sir Manasseh Meyer International School (SMMIS) is a small, all-through international school based on Jewish values.
The school was established in 1996 as a small nursery school by the local Jewish community, which grew into a primary school with 230 students in centrally-located Tanglin. Today, SMMIS is an all through-school school (Grades 11 – 12 are scheduled to open in 2022) in the northern Sembawang district.
For a small school of just 200 students, it has an impressive state-of-the-art campus – and a big heart to match. And, while SMMIS still offers an education imbued with Jewish values, tradition, and culture, it has become a truly international school that welcomes many students from all faiths and nationalities.
The message from SMMIS is very clear: don’t miss the opportunity to have the unique and values-based education because your family is not Jewish. SMMIS is made up of over 22 nationalities, and students come from more than six different faiths. There are several reasons why SMMIS could be the right fit for your child: it’s a school that has a modern, well-equipped, and welcoming campus; the familiarity and community feel of a small international school; and ‘affordable’ tuition fees of $23,000.
There’s a close-knit family community that can be hard to replicate at larger campuses across Singapore - and may be considered more important by parents, particularly in the early years/primary. It’s a school where, genuinely, the teachers know every student by name.
The not-for-profit SMMIS currently enrols students from nursery through to Grade 10 (with Grades 11 – 12 opening from August 2022), offering families all the stability of an all-through school. It offers an education based on the International Primary and Middle Years Curriculum (IPC/IMYC), blended with the rigorous Singapore Ministry of Education curriculum for maths and the National Curriculum for England for literacy. This is a creative and rigorous curriculum that works towards the globally recognised IGCSE exams.
Students can choose between an intensive Jewish education which is taught in Hebrew, or follow a World Religions curriculum together with Mandarin. The school has a strong focus on values such as integrity, respect, and kindness.
In the words of principal Elaine Robinson:
“SMMIS has a family feel, individualised attention, we all know each child’s name; we give an individualised learning experience. There is a strong community feel. We are driven by values. When we ask our international families why they choose to send their children to SMMIS they reply that they are drawn to the warmth and community feel regardless of culture, nationality and religion.”
The general feedback from parents is that SMMIS is a very welcoming, community school that provides the nurturing learning environment they are looking for. Frequent references to small class sizes, excellent facilities, outstanding parent communication, and strong leadership.
According to our Parent Survey, 83% of parents think that the fees represent good value for money given the quality of the school offering. Students look forward to going to a school here (83% compared to the Singapore average of 66%) and 63% of parents think their child has a tremendous sense of belonging at the school, which is a sign that the school is creating an environment where students, of all abilities, should flourish.
96% are satisfied with the level of academic performance, but the main criteria for choosing this school is happiness. 96% of parents that responded said they would recommend this school to other parents. This is above the average for schools in Singapore (85%) and above the average for Singapore North schools (82%).
Named after one of the most prominent philanthropic Jewish leaders in Singapore, Sir Manasseh Meyer, the school’s vision states that it is “bettering the world through a first-class education imbued with Jewish values”. And this is felt throughout many aspects of the school, from curriculum to student life.
As one Grade 3 student says on the school’s website:
“I feel happy in this school, the teachers are kind and my friends are very nice. I have friends from many countries in my class - Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Israelis and Koreans, and we all play and talk together and share some things about our homes and countries and culture.”
How does the school balance being a faith school with an international cohort?
Each morning students can choose between the traditional morning prayers or a mindfulness session. Students participate in communal Jewish festivals as well as celebrating other cultural and religious days and National Holidays relevant to Singapore. (The colourful wall displays on world religions and festivals proudly show this).
Ms Robinson has fostered a positive school climate that can be seen and felt. There’s a nurturing side; for example, every new student wears a ribbon so that their peers will make them more welcome; students come together every day for a hot lunch sitting around bright blue and yellow tables in the dining room. There are also meatless Mondays, showing the schools commitment to the environment and animal welfare.
Each day there is a salad bar where students can help themselves, and a freshly baked afternoon snack (which smelt delicious during our visit); this all contributes to the homely feel of this school. And there’s a community side; for example, parents are actively involved through the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) with fundraising, social events, and learning support, and the school community is brought together at events such as a recent popcorn and movie afternoon and a Sunday Funday.
SMMIS offers the creative and inquiry-led International Primary Curriculum (IPC) blended with the rigorous Singapore Ministry of Education curriculum for maths, the National Curriculum for England for literacy, and the US-based research-based science curriculum, FOSS. The curriculum also includes a coding and robotics programme; Jewish Education and World Religions is offered, Modern Hebrew or Mandarin as a second language; and PE, swimming, and Personal Social and Health Education.
The school says: "This curriculum offers students opportunities to learn about a wide variety of integrated topics through an international lens."
The IPC and IMYC frameworks take a very creative, thematic approach to teaching, and encourage students to research and ask questions about what really interests them. Maths is taught based on the high standards of the Singapore MOE curriculum, which uses visual aids such as blocks, geometric shapes, and bar charts to tackle mathematical problems. This system is widely admired, as local students in Singapore are repeatedly ranked at or near the top of international maths exams.
It’s a comprehensive curriculum, with baseline testing at the end of Grade 6 that provides an international benchmark of student performance at the school. The school prepares its students for a secondary education at SMMIS, where they work towards IGCSE and A Level exams, both internationally recognised qualifications. The IPC/IMYC is followed at other schools in Singapore including Invictus, Middleton International School, and The Grange Institution. It is cheaper to deliver than the IB programme, which is offered at many international schools here but it is a strong primary and middle years curriculum.
During our visit to SMMIS, we saw many examples of the IPC’s thematic units of learning. For example, students had created dolls houses for the Buildings Unit, and music was being explored in different ways, from learning about instruments used in Ancient Egypt in Grade 2 through to creating a song about social justice in Grade 8.
Small class sizes (average classes of 18) and lower student to teacher ratios translate into a more intimate and personalised learning environment, enabling more individual attention and support. And as Principal Elaine Robinson says, “In a small classroom, time is on our side, we can delve deeper into the curriculum or move on at a faster pace.”
Technology supports learning at all stages, and classrooms are equipped with smartboards, iPads, and laptops. The school has an impressive iSTEAM and Makerspace programme that uses technology including 3D printing, programming, micro:bits, and Minecraft for Education.
When it comes to student leadership, the roles may be more limited than larger school, but the chances for student participation and school representation are higher because there is a smaller pool of students. Students may feel that they have more of a stake in their school because they can really make a tangible difference.
After school, students are encouraged to take part in a range of activities including chess, swimming, soccer, dance, and martial arts. While SMMIS admits that extra-curricular offerings are “naturally narrower in a small school” it still offers a wide choice of clubs in art, music, dance, cooking, drama, chess, robotics and several sports. “Our students enjoy participating in inter-school competitions; just because we are smaller doesn't mean we are quieter!” says Mrs Robinson.
The school tackles global issues as a ‘whole’ school; for example, it runs Kiss the Ground days, where students work in vertical groups to carry out an eco-audit of the school to make SMMIS a more sustainable school – from making compost from canteen food waste, to sourcing an eco-friendlier uniform.
The campus: Read our Experience tour of SMMIS
Annual tuition fees range from $14,850 for pre-school to $23,480 in Grades 6 – 10, which is at the lower end of the scale for Singapore’s international schools. Fees include daily lunch and snack, and there is a one-time development fee of $1,605. The school is currently open for pre-school to Grade 10; Grades 11 – 12 will open from 2020-21.
SMMIS offers bursaries, which are means-tested and range in value according to financial need and the funds available.
Read more: Faith Schools in Singapore
Sir Manasseh Meyer International School 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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