Founded in 1925 Tanglin has over 90 years of experience delivering British-based education to Singapore's international community. At least for the international community, it is part of the fabric of the city.
Founded in 1925, Tanglin has over 90 years of experience delivering a British-based education to Singapore's international community. If you're after a school with a bit of history, the school should be close, if not top of your shortlist. In the city, only The Japanese School is older.
Located in the Queenstown area, Tanglin is a not-for-profit, all-through school that enrols more than 2,800 students from nursery through to sixth form. This school is probably the most British of the top schools in Singapore, at least in terms of student numbers; its student body represents over 50 different nationalities, and 47% of these students are UK passport holders.
Tanglin follows the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and UK National Curriculum throughout its infant, junior and senior schools; students study for their IGCSEs in Years 10-11 and have the choice of more than 10 different courses. The school delivers a well-rounded education in all year groups, with specialist subjects including art and design, music, drama, PE and Chinese. Key features of the curriculum include Latin in Years 7-9, life skills in Years 10-11, and a choice of Chinese, French and Spanish in Years 7-8 (one of which students must continue with through to IGCSE level).
Tanglin is the only school in Singapore to offer both the IBDP and A Levels at sixth form level (Years 12-13). This is not a story of UK vs International, but considerably more about offering a choice of curricula that plays to the strengths of a child. The IBDP continues a broad and balanced learning approach to subjects; students need to successfully complete six subjects (three at higher level and three at standard level), which must include a language and a science. A Levels are more specialised and focus on three or four subject areas that normally reflect the direction students are likely to take at university level; A Levels allow students to focus on their strengths and, perhaps more importantly, opt out of those subjects that would bring their grades down. Both qualifications are widely accepted for entry into universities worldwide.
Schools in general do not offer both the IBDP and A Levels for two reasons. Firstly, you need a large student body, and secondly, it is expensive to deliver. While most schools fall short on one or the other, Tanglin is a school with a student body almost 2,800 strong and with fees at the higher end of the scale in Singapore. As a parent this means you join an all-through school knowing that the school should be able to cater to the learning needs of your child, whatever they may prove ultimately to be.
As recognised by BSO inspectors, teaching at Tanglin is "well adapted to challenge the most able students to achieve outstandingly well. The curriculum is equally well adapted to support disabled students and those who have special educational needs."
Read about our tour of the campus here.
Technology features strongly across the curriculum, and there’s a 1:1 iPad programme in Years 5 and 6 and a 1:1 laptop programme from Year 7. Each year group area has access to a range of technology, including interactive whiteboards, shared pods of desktop computers, cameras, 3D printers and Lego robotics.
The school offers film studies at IGCSE, A Level and IB, and it is well-equipped to do this. A new facility has Mac computers loaded with packages including Final Cut Pro X for video editing, Cinema 4D for 3D animation, Adobe After Effects for compositing and motion graphics; a Foley pit for sound editing; a screening room; and a film studio with green screen.
There's a passion for film at this school, which recently hosted the Across Asia Youth Film Festival. During his visit to Tanglin, British film director Dan Sully said:
"The facilities are better than some universities I've seen. They give students the opportunity to collaborate, share ideas and make films together. I wouldn't leave the suites if I was here!"
The results speak for themselves. The IB Class of 2018 scored an average 38.1, which is slightly lower than last year's average of 38.8, and three students achieved the top score of 45; this is a record achievement for the school. In addition, almost three fifths of the cohort scored 38 points or more, and 98% scored 32 points and above.
The A Level cohort in 2018 enjoyed a 100% pass rate. 45% of grades were at A* or A, 93% were in the range A* to C and 13 students achieved A/A*s in all their subjects. 32% of students taking the EPQ achieved an A*, with almost two thirds of the A level cohort achieving an A or A*.
In the 2018 IGCSE results, 47% of all grades achieved were A* or equivalent numerical grade. A high 77% of all grades were either A, A* or equivalent, and 98% of all grades achieved were A*-C (or equivalent).
The strong results in external examinations are to be applauded, especially as Tanglin is a non-selective school with “a mixed ability cohort”. That said, students wishing to enrol in the school must "display the intellectual capacity to fully participate in and benefit from the school's curriculum".
There's change at the top of Tanglin this year. Craig Considine took over from Peter John Derby-Crook as CEO from August 2018. Australian-born Considine was formerly the head teacher at Millfield School in the UK, and has experience in a number of Australian independent schools.
“My predecessor has handed over the school in excellent heart. The reputation of Tanglin is stronger and more acknowledged than ever, and we are delighted to be welcoming strong student numbers again in August 2018."
At the heart of the school is the TTS Foundation, which enhances the curriculum by funding inspirational visitors and developing the sports and arts programmes. The TTS Foundation organises visits from musicians, storytellers, authors and theatrical groups, including Robert Swan (polar explorer), Dominic Peckham (choral conductor), Google and Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury). It has also funded initiatives such as an edible garden and the Year 2 Pedal Power programme, which teaches children how to cycle.
The school says:
“We’re lucky with our foundation as it's very active and its mission is to enable extraordinary opportunities – and I think they really do. It’s so inspirational for the students.”
The infant, junior and senior/sixth form are inspected every three years by British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspectors – and all three have been judged Outstanding in their most recent reports dating from 2016-2018.
The 2018 infant school report, inspectors praised the "very strong leadership" in the early years, "outstanding progress in all areas", and how "a focus on using natural and real objects developed children's sense of curiosity".
In the 2017 senior school report, inspectors noted the "outstanding" quality of teaching and learning, and how the "teachers' enthusiasm for learning is infectious". All students, including the most able and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities make rapid progress throughout the school."
In the 2016, junior school report, inspectors commented on the "lively atmosphere in all lessons", "highly stimulating learning environment" and an "extensive number of cross-curricular topics" such as An Island Paradise project that links geography, science, history and English. The report says: "As well as achieving exceptionally well in reading, writing, maths and science, the standards reached by pupils in other subjects across the curriculum are also exceptionally high."
Tanglin has a 'schools within a school' model, and each of the infant, junior, senior/sixth form schools have their own head of school, uniform, house system, timetable etc.
It is more than evident that this is an extremely well-run school, with young, passionate students that want to succeed. That kind of environment, in general, brings the best out of all students. This is in part due to very healthy teacher to student ratios, which allow a focus on the child:
3-4 years: 1:6
4-5 years: 1:8
5-7 years: 1:12
8-13 years: 1:24
14-16 years: 1:20
16-18 years: 1:15
We find it interesting, and see the wisdom, in teacher: student ratios tightening and improving in pre-examination years.
Beyond the classroom, Tanglin has an extensive programme of extra-curricular activities, competes in a wide range of competitive and non-competitive sporting events, organises overseas trips for senior students, and hosts a variety of student music and drama performances and art exhibitions.
There's an active parent community within the school, and a ParentWise programme that includes a series of events and workshops covering issues as varied as bullying, mindfulness, physical development in the early years, reading and digital citizenship. Parents are also welcome to use the new cafe-style canteen in the Nixon Building, and the PTA has its own office on-campus.
Tanglin offers a strong pastoral programme, which includes a house system, Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE) classes, leadership opportunities, and community service activities. British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspectors described the pastoral care as "outstanding" and "a never before seen model."
In Years 10-13, the school runs a mandatory life skills programme where students learn everything from home cooking and sewing on a button to changing a tyre and how to open a bank account.
In terms of leadership, students can stand for student council, library monitors, house and sports captains, nursery helpers, global guardians, playtime pals and much more. There are plenty of opportunities to play an active role within the school, which has set up a variety of age-appropriate positions. For example, while not every child may fit the role of a house captain, they may enjoy being a school photographer or sun hat monitor.
There is a broad programme of after-school activities. These include a new Junior Award Scheme for Schools (JASS) programme for Year 5 and Year 6, which is a precursor to the Duke of Edinburgh Award; learning to cook in a Masterchef-style kitchen; and scouting and guiding.
The school says:
“The after-school activity list is massive and includes music, art, drama, sport, competitive sport, academic competitions. About 80% are CCAs, which are mostly put on by Tanglin teachers and there’s no charge.”
Health & safety
Each school within the campus has a dedicated health centre with full-time nurse, and there are security barriers at every entrance to the school.
Contributions to the community
Every year group has its own philanthropic cause, and the school has developed some strong relationships with local Singaporean charities over several decades.
The school says:
“We have a big focus on giving back, and each year group has a charity that they support and raise money for. We also have an enterprise programme in the junior school where students come up with a product, sell it and then lend the money raised through Lendwithcare – like a micro loan – and then it gets paid back.”
The school occupies a generous plot in Singapore’s Central region. Facilities at Tanglin are as you would expect given the fees – first class. The school offers air-conditioned classrooms, 25m swimming pool, sports field, gymnasium, climbing wall, play areas/playground, sports courts, theatre facilities, soundproof music rooms, recording studio, art studio, media suite, design and technology suite, science lab, libraries, cafeteria, ICT suites, drama studios, dance studios, exams hall, health centres, professional development centre, and a fitness suite.
There are separate buildings for the infant, junior and senior schools and the sixth form, and it expanded in 2017 with the Nixon Building, which is home to an impressive film and media department.
Admission and fees
Tanglin Trust’s annual tuition fees range from $26,946 in Nursery to $44,571 in Year 13.. Due to the school’s popularity and strong academic record, Tanglin has waitlists “for most year groups”. The school offers siblings priority places and also operates a “priority placement” scheme, whereby a child can be given a place in return for charges of S$85,000-S$165,000 (£42,243-£82,002). These bills are usually paid by companies wanting to secure places for children of their employees.
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