• Ten-year-old, purpose-built campus
• Urban location
• Smaller campus than Dover
UWCSEA is a school of two halves, and the half that is on the east is most definitely the more modern, compact and urban version. Opened in 2008, the East campus is located at the heart of one of Singapore’s largest new towns. Surrounded by apartment blocks and next to a main road, the campus is easily accessible and centrally located for anyone living in the eastern district.
From the outside it looks contemporary and new – and unmistakably a UWC school – and once you walk through the main gates you find yourself in a surprisingly green, well-designed campus. While the campus is nearly half the size of its sister Dover campus in the west, it still has more than 2,500 students – yet it doesn’t feel overcrowded either during lesson or break times.
The UWC brand is felt across the East campus, from the distinctive blue and green branding to the frequent displays of UWC’s mission and guiding statements – and the UWC World Map is one of the first things to greet you as you walk into the school.
There’s no traffic on campus as all parking, bus bays and drop areas are underground, so students arrive safely and securely by car or bus at a dedicated drop off area, and then walk upstairs to their first class of the day.
Read more about UWCSEA's East campus here.
• Standalone school with dedicated entrance and facilities
• Green campus
• Specialist facilities and shared learning areas
• Student work displayed across the campus
It may be nearly 10 years old, but the East campus still looks and feels a little bit like one of the newer kids on the block when compared to other international schools in Singapore. That said, it does feel very ‘lived in’ – from the living walls covered in mature greenery to the corridors lined with student’s work, this campus has injected plenty of life and experience into its walls.
The East campus has the advantage of being a purpose-built school, which means that it should be tailor-made to deliver UWC’s unique curriculum and designed for specialist teaching. And there are several signs that it is.
The first and oldest part of the school is the infant school for K1 to Grade 1, which is a dedicated block with classrooms for each grade encircling a central pod area filled with a wide array of learning resources. There are also specialist teaching rooms for Chinese language, music, learning support and cooking, as well as an outdoor play, learn to swim pool, indoor playground, and separate entrance.
UWCSEA says: “At a large school of 2,500 students, the idea of having a self-contained, purpose-built scaled model of a school that’s just built for infant-aged students was so appealing to parents."
All K1 classrooms have an outdoor area, and there’s a variety of modern play areas with climbing equipment, tunnels and sandpits, a creative zone made from recycled materials, and a garden.
UWCSEA says: “There are trails that go through the gardens here. As well as exploring, the children can get involved with gardening in the herb garden and then cook with them in their cooking class.”
The rest of the school is spread between the primary (four to 11 years), middle (11-14 years) and high schools (14-18). Each grade has a common area where students can work in smaller groups and exhibit their work. These large shared pod areas have been designed for IB-style learning, and in each grade we could see how the same flexible space was being adapted using a different layout of chairs and tables, stools, benches, sofas and rugs for age-appropriate lessons, assemblies and events. We also saw specialist classrooms for art, music, languages, as well as science labs, with plenty of evidence that UWCSEA has the tools in place to teach both IBDP programme and IGCSE-level subjects. Outside, there are plenty of undercover, shaded play areas for junior and middle school students.
As we moved up into the high school section of the school, there was certainly a more mature feel to the campus. Here’s a section of the school that caters to the needs of its diploma students, with its lockers, study zones and themed seating areas.
As you’d expect from a large international school that is so passionately committed to delivering a holistic education, the East campus is home to a wide range of specialist facilities for sports, visual arts and technology. It’s evident that UWCSEA has invested heavily in providing the resources required for IGCSE and IBDP subjects such as dance and product design. There’s also a greenhouse and plant nursery that are used by after-school clubs including the Rainforest Nursery Group, which works with Singapore National Parks to grow and research endangered rainforest species from seed.
UWCSEA says: “We are one of the largest IB diploma schools in Asia, if not the world. We offer a huge range of IB subjects.”
Students also have access to whole-school facilities including a 700-seat main hall, conference centre, playing fields, sports halls and canteen. When you’re paying premium fees of $ 38,685.00 per year from Grade 1, you should expect your child to have access to extensive facilities – and UWCSEA appears to be delivering on that promise.
The East campus has some impressive sporting facilities and its enormous elevated field has the wow factor over them all. As well as being used by all grades for PE, these Astro-turf pitches also play host to regional SEASAC competitions in football, rugby and softball. Another highlight is the new gymnastic facility with a fully sprung floor, vault, bars, beam and foam pits, which is used by all students as part of the PE curriculum for after-school clubs including parkour.
UWCSEA says: “It’s not just netball, touch football and rugby, we give children options in the PE curriculum that they carry through into their own life.”
There are also three indoor sports halls that can be configured for basketball, volleyball, badminton and other indoor sports, including circus skills, as well as dance and fitness studios and an indoor climbing wall. During our visit, we saw a Grade 4 class playing badminton on six courts to learn ‘over the net’ skills.
UWCSEA says: “We’re very lucky as very rarely can you have a full class playing on six courts. There’s no one standing on the side-lines here, so their learning progresses so fast.”
There are two libraries – a primary and main library – both of which were buzzing with noise and atmosphere. The primary library is like a colourful wonderland with beanbags, creative displays and child-friendly seating. The larger, main library for middle and high school students is a really impressive two-level hub with private study booths, modern learning pods, and movable walls to allows students to create their own study spaces.
The modern D&T classrooms are creative learning hubs with workbenches and state of the art equipment where students “get a really good grounding in different disciplines” from food technology through to product design. There’s also an art department with both indoor and outdoor studios, where we saw displays of painting, sculpture and photography.
As you’d expect from a school that promises to deliver a well-rounded education, there is a huge focus on the arts. We saw music classrooms filled with a wide range of instruments, ranging from pianos and drum kits through to traditional Asian pieces; private practice rooms; a 420-seat theatre; and a more intimate, tiered black box theatre.
One of the benefits of having a purpose-built school is that the campus has been designed to make moving around quick and easy, often using open stairways and outdoor covered walkways. It makes this campus, albeit fairly large, feel very connected – and ensures that students have access to fresh air, natural light and the outdoors between classes.
There was lots of talk about junior students working with the infants and high school students helping the juniors, and there seems to be plenty of movement around the campus. This may be a large school of more than 2,000 students, but the design of the campus certainly lends itself to building a close-knit community. The plaza also creates a central meeting point in the campus, and it has become the hub for school-wide events, student exhibitions and post-lunch play.
UWCSEA says: “We’ve designed it so that children don’t have to go up and down the stairs all the time to move between classes; they can move between the buildings quickly and easily. It also means that we can facilitate reading sessions between the schools, as they’re wasting time moving between classes.”
What a school chooses to display on its walls can tell you a lot about what the school values most. In the corridors leading to each grade, there is floor to ceiling displays of students’ project, written and creative work. Throughout the campus, there are consistent messages about the different units of study in the UWCSEA programme, colourful murals, whiteboards listing key events happening that week, and inspirational quotes on both walls and ceilings.
There are photos of the many outdoor education trips, which take students from Chiang Mai to Nepal, as well as displays about the different service activities completed by each grade. We saw images of students visiting the elderly at a St Johns home in Singapore, releasing sharks into the wild in Bali, and helping at a local soup kitchen.
UWCSEA says: “Our whole learning programme is guided by the UWC Mission. Every part of our curriculum, including the academic side, service, outdoor education, and personal and social education, links back to the Mission. It’s at the core of everything that we do.”
Just a five-minute walk from the main entrance, and you’ll find the school’s boarding facilities for around 200 students in Grades 8-12. The boarding houses were surrounded by greenery, well-maintained, and very secure.
UWCSEA says: “Our boarders in particular will adopt a class here in the younger years, and they will come down in free periods and read to them or share their culture or teaching a language. The boarders they may have younger siblings and they are missing them. We want children to learn about others, and this gives them that interaction.”
• Reggio Emilia-designed classrooms for early learners
• IB-inspired learning environments
• Well-lit and well-equipped rooms
The East campus is particularly geared up for the Reggio Emilia style of teaching that is adopted here, and we saw that with examples bright early years classrooms, a flow from indoor to outdoor experiences, shared pod areas, and plenty of messy play.
UWCSEA says: “Each classroom is set up slightly differently as it’s set up to support the learners in each class.”
Throughout the school, the classrooms provide an ideal setting for inquiry-based learning; there are pod areas for collaborative learning in every grade, round desks, flexible layouts, choices of seating, and spaces for both large gatherings and one-to-one interactions. We also saw plenty of natural light flooding into the classrooms and views over the treetops through many of the windows. All classrooms are equipped with a library of iPads or laptops, and there’s a central IT helpdesk on campus to help fix any bugs.
UWCSEA says: “They each have their own iPad or laptop which they use for the whole year but is stored here in the classroom. From Grade 6 onwards, they can take the laptop home. The cost for this is included in the tuition fee.”
UWC South East Asia (East Campus) 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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