Choosing a School in Singapore

Do not be deceived by the advice from expats who scoff when you comment on how confusing the entire schooling system is in Singapore, then in response to your solicited advice, they retort with comments like: “Don’t get so fraught by the school, your child is only 5 years old!” or “Just stick to the same curriculum that your child is already studying, you can’t go wrong.” or even worse… “Just go for the ones with the biggest wait list, they’re the best.”

These comments are usually fortified with the fact that they have been living in Singapore for at least 10 years and, 10 years ago, there were not even half of the International school choices there are now! There are over 30 International Primary/Secondary Schools in Singapore, not to mention the 500 preschools.

In all honesty… yes it is relatively simple to narrow it all down to 5-6 preschools and 5-6 primary/secondary. But on what basis, how do you draw up the short list , what priorities come first?

  • How long will you live in Singapore
  • How old is your child (ren)
  • What type of personality is your child (ren)
  • Is school paid for by a company or is it a personal expense

All of these factors, plus 10 or more others, are all important considerations and every family situation and profile will have very different priorities.

Whilst listening to your new best friend, “random expat forums”,  and trying to digest subjective comments from a well meaning (but a stranger to you and your family) expat parent, always remember this… YOUR child is unique and only YOU know what environment and curriculum could, should or might best suit them.

Butterfly provides objective, impartial advice on schooling based on family’s individual profiles and needs.  We assist with advice on curricula, special needs, individual tuition – Butterfly is here to help you and your child(ren) to land gently.

By Sarah Bowler

One Response to “Choosing a School in Singapore”

  1. Esther Smith May 24, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    My family and I met Sarah briefly before she joined Butterfly, while she was affiliated with one of the international schools in Singapore. However rather than ‘push’ her school which so many others did, she took some time to talk to us about my child, his personality and our family’s ethos. She was not only informed but honest and straight talking, which we hugely appreciated.

    The school decision is a big one and emotionally after dragging your children half way round the world it feels even bigger, as parents if the kids are happy, so are we and I know for us the ‘right’ school was a major reason for moving to Singapore in the first place.

    Our move was fast, 6 weeks from ‘potential’ to packing bags so we had no time for pre-prep, we arrived visited every school we had a chance of getting into and went from there. There is so much to consider curriculum, size, location, term dates and holiday schedule (these can vary hugely), even how they break the years e.g. sept-sept like the Uk or April to April in Australian schools.

    Eventually we found a school and we are v happy with our choice but my biggest lessons;
    1) Visit as many as possible – seeing and feeling tells you 100% more than a website or piece of paper
    2) Don’t believe everything you hear – if you look hard enough for dirt on a school you’ll find it, we all have skeletons, that’s life! What works for one family won’t work for another and that’s ok.
    3) Think about distance – you and your kids will spend allot of time going to and fro home and school (I’m a working mum and still seem to be at some event or another all the time), so either find school first and house second or at least put it in the decision making criteria
    4) Get past the admissions people and meet the teachers / if possible Head of Year / School. Sarah was amazing but some poor admissions staff put me off some potentially good schools

    And finally I 100% agree with Sarah, focus on your child. Or just give Sarah a call, I wish she’d been with butterfly when I arrived it would have saved me heartache and prob helped us get settled faster. But you live and learn!

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