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Choosing the best Singapore school for your child


Finding the right school is a priority for many families when moving to Singapore. If possible, place your child or children on a waiting list before you arrive. Many schools have recently extended their campuses to cater to growing needs.

Most children of expats attend an international school that follows the same curriculum as their home country – or one that offers the International Baccalaureate. Other students attend local public schools, which are considerably cheaper.

Whichever you choose, you will need the following documents for your child’s admission: birth certificate, passport, dependant’s pass, immunisation certificates and previous report cards.


International Schools

All of the international schools in Singapore are fee-paying schools, and registration fees are also required. Some employers pay all or part of the tuition fee. This is taxable. Selecting the right school for your child is often an instinctive decision. Visiting the schools and chatting with other families about their experiences can be invaluable.

If you are likely to be in Singapore for only a couple of years, the most convenient option is probably a school that follows the same curriculum as your home country. If you are long-term expats, you may prefer to select a school that offers the IB. Many of them have students from dozens of nationalities and provide a multi-cultural environment.

English is the language of instruction for most of the international schools here, and programmes such as ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) are offered to non-native English speakers.

Local Schools

Some expats in Singapore send their children to a government or government-aided local school. School fees are currently just $3 a month for primary pupils and $5 a month for secondary pupils. The Singapore government has recently made it easier for foreign students to attend local schools, and foreign students with a DP (Dependant’s Pass) do not need to apply for a Student’s Pass. Admission is subject to vacancies.

Students at the secondary level are placed in the Special, Express, Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) course, according to how they perform in the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations). The different curricular emphases are designed to match their learning abilities and interests. In secondary school, students take the Cambridge General Certificate of Education “Ordinary” (GCE “O”) level examinations.

The areas of literacy, numeracy and bilingualism are emphasised, along with physical and moral education, and creative and independent thinking. Each child is required to learn English. Information Technology is widely used as a teaching and learning resource in order to develop skills in communication and encourage independent learning.

Government schools aim to instil a strong sense of responsibility towards family, community and country, and encourage students to form strong bonds among themselves.

Further details are available through the Ministry of Education (MOE). For full listings of local schools and locations, go to www3.moe.edu.sg/schdiv/sis.

Note that local and international schools operate on different timetables.

Special Schools

In Singapore, special education (SPED) schools offer specialised teaching for children with intellectual, sensory, physical or multiple disabilities, including autism. SPED schools are operated by voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), with the support of the Ministry of Education and the National Council of Social Service. Go to the following webpage for a full listing: www.moe.gov.sg/education/special-education/schoollist

Special education is also available at privately run schools such as the Genesis School for Special Education, Kits4Kids Special School, Divinity Especial Needs Intervention Centre, and international schools such as Dover Court Preparatory School.