Finding an international school in Singapore



Singapore has an internationally recognised local education system, especially in the fields of Science and Mathematics. English is the language of instruction, but all students are also taught a Mother Tongue; Chinese, Malay, or Tamil (depending on ethnicity). Those who are more linguistically inclined also have the opportunity to learn other languages like French, German, or Japanese.

Primary education comprises a four-year foundation stage from Primary 1 to Primary 4, and a two-year orientation stage in Primary 5 and 6. Secondary education comprises four or five years culminating in ‘N’ or ‘O’ level examinations. Post-secondary education comprises one to three years of pre-university, technical or vocational study. For the more information on the educational system in Singapore, visit Ministry of Education.

International schools operate on national curricula or the International Baccalaureate (IB). This is probably the most important deciding factor in selecting a school, particularly for older students.

Most of the international schools call their different school levels ‘grades’ as in the US system (grade K1 – grade 12), although a handful follows the British system of ‘years’ (Nursery to year 13). This can be slightly confusing because the same school year will be named differently; i.e. grade 9 = year 10. All the international schools follow strict guidelines concerning the age of a student. For some schools, it is a simple case of the child having his/her birthday in a particular year; cut off at December 31/January 1. For most, the cut-off is about August – precise dates vary between schools.

Northern hemisphere countries (e.g. the US and European countries) usually follow the August/ September to June/July school year. Most international schools follow this school year. Some will have two semesters and some three trimesters (terms). The school year of Southern Hemisphere countries (e.g. Australia and South Africa) runs from February to December.

It is possible to save money for education in Singapore : Discover how expats save on tuition fees.

School Choices

Most international schools have the International Baccalaureate Program (IB), which is the most widely used program among international schools. Most universities in America and Europe accept IB as the equivalent of secondary or high school diploma, and some may even offer college credit for courses taken in the IB program. You should research the curriculum ahead of time, and ensure it is appropriate for your child’s background and future.



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