A standalone primary school in the north east, offering the Cambridge primary curriculum, a focus on creativity and outdoor learning, and fees of less than $20,000 per year.
Describing itself as a “small school with big aspirations”, The Grange promises to offer “a broadly-British style of education for children of primary school age”. There’s a strong creative focus in The Grange curriculum, and it offers a more relaxed alternative to the very rigorous academic nature of some international and local schools in Singapore.
Since opening in August 2018, the school has grown very slowly to a small community of just 31 students. Some families may be put off by the lack of facilities, small campus, north-east location, and non-IB curriculum. Others, however, will see the appeal of a school that follows a January to December academic year, has a close-knit community, and all the characteristics of a village school.
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While you shouldn’t expect extensive or state-of-the art facilities – there’s no swimming pool, makerspace, or 1:1 iPad programme for example – you can look forward to a school that focuses on developing creative talent. Here’s a school that also promises to take full advantage of its natural surroundings and focus on outdoor education.
It also has a very international outlook, and the school talks a lot about focusing on UN Sustainable Development Goals to raise "globally aware" students.
The Grange is owned by Crestar Education Group, which has a network of more than 120 pre-school, childcare and adult education centres across Singapore, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam; this is the group's first international primary school. Crestar's three preschool brands – Kinderland, ELFA and NurtureStars feed into The Grange. Crestar explained the decision to open this school, saying:
"We have had countless enquiries from parents over the years about pathways beyond our pre-school service. Many of them have expressed a desire to see the culture and creative philosophy in Kinderland continue into the next learning phase of their children.”
The Grange follows the Cambridge International Primary Curriculum for English, maths and science, and the International Primary Curriculum's (IPC) thematic Units of Learning covering subjects including art, geography, history, ICT and computing, music, science, society, technology, language and maths.
This curriculum is built on The Grange's bespoke Cre8tors-in-Action educational philosophy, which aims to develop eight core competencies: Construction & Design; Respecting the Environment; Entrepreneurial Spirit; Active Citizenship; Teamwork & Partnerships; Original Ideas; Recognising Issues; and Service Leadership.
The school’s international team of teachers, including specialist teachers in music, the visual arts, PE, technology and languages, focuses on three learning frameworks. These include proficiency in the core subjects of English, maths and science; thematic, inquiry-based learning; and five specialist subjects - Art, Music, Personal Social Physical Education (PSPE), Technology, and Languages. Every student can choose to study either Japanese mother tongue, Mandarin as a foreign language, or additional English language.
While the school does not offer EAL, it does run additional English language classes for non-native English language learners "with more focused time to develop their English language skills".
At The Grange, teachers run a programme of free extra-curricular activities based on their interests and hobbies. "We believe that this enhances our “village school” vibes," says the school.
The academic year runs from January to December, which puts the school in line with local Singaporean schools and the Australian International School; the school day is slightly different to the norm as it runs from 10am to 4.30pm. Rather than this being a conscious decision by the school, it is a requirement by the government to help manage the heavy flow of traffic during rush hour.
"The majority of our families are coming from pre-schools in the local system, so this academic year matches that."
The school currently only has three year groups and plans to open up to Primary 6 in the future. It will always remain a small school with a maximum of two classes per year, and class sizes will be capped at 24. The current average class size is 10, and the largest class has 16 students; this means that the teacher to student ratio is currently very low at 1:9.
It has a truly international student body representing 18 different nationalities; each nationality is capped at 25% in each year level. The three biggest group of students at The Grange are Japanese, Filipinos and Indians.
At the helm of the school is director Ronald Stones, a British educator with more than 30 years' teaching experience in South East Asia; his previous roles include principal at Tanglin Trust School.
Teachers are recruited from the UK, Australia, and parts of Asia such as Singapore and Japan.
The Grange has a three-acre campus along Yio Chu Kang Road, between Serangoon and Ang Mo Kio. Located away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, the school is in a quieter, residential corner of Singapore – and close to other international schools including AIS and SAIS.
The school shares its campus with the existing Kinderland pre-school. Facilities at the low-rise campus include six classrooms, a library, multi-purpose hall, sustainable garden, and two music and art studios.
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This small campus may feel understated compared to some other larger international schools, but it feels cosy, welcoming and authentic. Also, with its vegetable plots, butterfly garden and natural wildlife, the school is able to offer plenty of rich outdoor experiences. There is no school nurse on site.
There’s no room for expansion for secondary years at this site, but that’s not to say that the school won’t open a secondary school on another location in the future.
Admission and fees
Annual tuition fees are among the lowest in Singapore at $19,900 . There are no hidden extras, apart from an enrolment fee of $2,000 and application fee of $500, but students do have to bring in their own packed lunch.
The above is an introductory fee that is only applicable until the end of the 2020-21 academic year, and there are plans to increase fees to $21,337.
The Grange Institution 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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