Written by: Marissa Saini
If you’re relocating to Singapore with children, reading up on the enrolment processes and narrowing down the right schools is surely on the top of your to-do list (and your worries!). Luckily for Singapore-bound expats, the Lion City boasts of a world-class education system that offers diverse curricula from all over the world.
While it all depends on your individual preferences and child’s educational needs, it’s always helpful to explore all the possibilities available before making an informed choice. Here, we dive into everything you need to know about the international school system in Singapore. It is best to look into this matter early in your relocation journey as there are a number of requirements that you would need to complete while in your country of origin, including immigration paperwork and immunisations, for starters.
The path to finding the perfect school with your desired curriculum for your child is a clear and transparent one (thanks to in-depth guides like this one) but it’s also an undeniably tedious process. To save you the hassle, Ohmyhome’s Destination Services provides a smooth enrolment experience – from arranging school tours to overseeing the entire application process, visa documentation, and more.
How to Enrol in an International School in Singapore
1. Start shortlisting your favourites
Singapore’s international schools offer a wide range of facilities, specialties, curricula, education philosophies, and languages. Consider these factors so that you can determine the school that would best fit your child’s specific educational needs.
Which schools should you consider?
|Education Level||Name of School||Curriculum|
|Early Childhood||The Winstedt School||Montessori|
|EtonHouse International Preschool||Reggio Emilia-inspired|
|Singapore American School|
|Pibo’s Garden Preschool||Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)|
|Tanglin Trust School|
|Elementary and High School||St. Joseph’s Institution International||International Primary Curriculum (IPC),|
International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE),
International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)
|Primary Years Programme (PYP)||Singapore American School, Stamford American International School, Chatsworth International School, UWC South East Asia, GEMS World Academy (Singapore)||International Baccalaureate (IB)|
|Middle Years Programme (MYP)|
|Diploma Programme (IBDP)|
|Early Childhood, Primary, and Secondary||Nexus International School (Singapore), One World International School||International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)|
|Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary||Australian International School||Australian|
|Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, and Secondary||Singapore American School, Stamford American School||American|
|Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, and High School||International French School Singapore||French|
|Lower Primary, Upper Primary, and Secondary||Dover Court International School||UK – General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)|
|Early Childhood, Primary, and Secondary||Global Indian International School||India – Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)|
How old is your child?
The easiest way to shortlist is to ensure the schools you’re considering are right for your child’s age group.
|Age||Type of School|
|Below 3 years old||Pre-Nursery|
|3 to 6 years old||Nursery 1, Nursery 2, Kindergarten 1, Kindergarten 2|
|6 to 10 years old||Elementary School|
|11 to 14 years old||Middle School|
|15 > years old||High School|
Alternatively, some schools may also follow the renowned IB programme*.
|18 months-2 years old||Pre-Nursery||IB Early Years|
|2-3 years old||Nursery|
|3-4 years old||Pre-Kindergarten|
|4-5 years old||Kindergarten 1|
|5-6 years old||Kindergarten 2|
|6-7 years old||Grade 1||IB Primary Years Programme (PYP)|
|7-8 years old||Grade 2|
|8-9 years old||Grade 3|
|9-10 years old||Grade 4|
|10-11 years old||Grade 5|
|11-12 years old||Grade 6|
|12-13 years old||Grade 7||(IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP)|
|13-14 years old||Grade 8|
|14-15 years old||Grade 9|
|15-16 years old||Grade 10|
|16-17 years old||Grade 11||International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP)|
|17-18 years old||Grade 12|
*Keep in mind that schools have different labels for the early childhood levels (ages 2 to 5 year olds). The IB PYP programme is for children aged 3-12 years old but most international schools offer programmes for children as young as 18 months old such as Singapore American School, German European School Singapore, Stamford American International School, and Chatsworth International School just to name a few.
Which curriculum suits your child best?
Next, narrow down your list of schools even further by selecting the curriculum that provides the smoothest transition. For example, if your child is already in the Australian school system, perhaps it is best to consider schools that offer the Australian curriculum such as Australian International School and Integrated International School. In these schools, students sit for the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy tests (NAPLAN) and the Higher School Certificate (HSC) (New South Wales).
Interestingly, local international schools are also gaining popularity here in Singapore. They are Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) (International), St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) International, and Hwa Chong International School. These privately-funded schools are under Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE), providing students with a localised international school experience. Students are able to take the International General Certificate of Secondary Education as well as the IB Diploma – a win-win!
What is your budget for your child’s education?
Will the school fees be covered by your employer? If not, this section is important for you. With the luxury of options comes a wide range of school fees that start anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000 a year per child. Be sure to inquire about the tuition, additional fees, and payment terms to find the best school that fits your budget.
2. Know the entry requirements before submitting the school application
The importance of this step cannot be underestimated. Once you’ve found the right school that your child would thrive in, this stage ensures that you get your foot in the door. Entry requirements will inevitably vary from school to school, but the important paperwork can be rounded up to four main groups:
Singapore Visa Requirements
In order to be eligible to study in Singapore, your child needs to have one of the following long-term immigration passes before starting school:
a) A valid Dependant’s Pass (DP), or Singapore permanent resident (PR) status
b) Student’s Pass (STP)
Your child needs an STP from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) if he/she meets any of the following criteria:
- You and your partner does not have an employment pass
- Your child is currently holding a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP)
- Only you and your partner are Singapore PR
As of 1 February 2019, children aged 12 years old and below applying for long-term passes for the first time (LTVP, DP, STP) are required to submit proof of vaccination for diphtheria and measles to the Health Promotion Board (HPB) for verification before their long-term pass application.
This means you’ll need to get these vaccinations done in your home country before moving to Singapore. This document is incredibly important as without it, your long-term passes will be rejected.
To start with, you’ll need to download the Immunisation Registration Form and obtain a certified doctor’s endorsement.
This ultimately depends on which programme your child will be enrolled in. For example, if you wish to place your child in an English Language programme and English is not your child’s native language, a proficiency test may be conducted. Students enrolling in the higher grades (Grade 8 to 12) would be expected to have the skills of a native English speaker.
Likewise, if your child is entering a bilingual programme, they must meet the requirements for their specific grade, e.g. Grade 3 French and English requires proficiency in Level 3 English and Level 3 French.
Schools may have specific guidelines on how old the student must be by a specific cut-off date to successfully enroll in the grade. For example, in certain schools, to enter into Grade 1, your child must be 6 years old by 31st August of that year. This may vary depending on the school’s grade system. It is best to check with the school for more information.
3. Start the application process
Once you’re sure that your child is able to meet the entry requirements, the application process comes next. To successfully secure a spot in the school, you will need to submit:
- Application form (soft copy)
- Non-refundable application fee
- Past and most recent academic transcripts, reports, etc.
- Special education evaluation documents (if applicable)
- Passport size photographs (In Singapore, the size of the photo is 35mm by 45mm)
- Copy of your child’s passport, birth certificate, and immunisation records
- Copy of each parent’s / legal guardian’s / caregiver’s passport
- Copy of proof of guardianship (if applicable)
- Copy of the caregiver form / representative* form (if applicable)
*Note that a representative for your child is required if the parents are not able to communicate in English.
4. Sign the contract upon your child’s enrolment confirmation
Congratulations upon reaching this step – the end is nearly in sight! Typically, schools will inform you of your child’s enrolment via email along with the all-important student contract.
Be sure to check your inbox often as there is usually a short time frame to confirm your child’s place by providing the signed contract. If you miss the deadline, you may end up forfeiting your child’s slot. Don’t let all that effort go to waste!
5. Pay enrolment fees
Now that your child’s spot in the school is confirmed, it’s time to seal the deal by paying the enrolment fees. This usually coincides with the submission of the signed student contract. Keep in mind that this invoice will likely come with a deadline and must be paid on time; otherwise you risk forfeiting your child’s enrollment.
6. Submit copies of long-term documents
Now that you have chosen the best school for your child, met the entry requirements, and completed the application process, you can finally rest easy with this final step. The school admissions board would typically ask you to submit copies of your child’s:
- Dependant’s Pass, Student Pass or NRIC (note: only for Singapore PRs)
- Parent’s or Guardian’s Dependant’s Pass, Employment Pass or NRIC (if you are a Singaporean PR)
With a dash of precision, attention to detail, and a little bit of luck, you’ll surely be able to secure a coveted spot at any of these highly promising international schools for your child.
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