When you make the move to this nation with your family, a huge decision has to be made on your children’s education. As parents, we want the best for our kids and that means getting them the best form of education to set their paths straight for success in the future. In Singapore, there are two options that expats can take up for their children, namely the local neighbourhood schools and international schools. As its name would suggest, a local neighbourhood school is one that would offer your children the chance to enter the local education system, offering your child the chance to be schooled under a world excellent education programme where bilingualism is prioritised. Most of the times, students are paired to the school they are located closest to, but some parents might prefer their children to be allocated to certain schools for their different modes of learning and perceived education standards. On the other hand, international schools promote education in an international environment by following a curriculum like the International Baccalaureate, a curriculum that is different from the school’s country (Cambridge International Examinations). While no education system is perfect, you can still make a choice that would best fit your child’s learning style and aptitude. Read on as we break down the differences in local and international schools available here in Singapore based on these factors.
When you place your children in a local education system, they are exposed completely to the Singapore culture since they are a part of the local system and this would be beneficial for long-term residents who wish to make Singapore their home and apply for citizenship in the future. As most local neighbourhood schools promote stronger bonds between students, families and the country, it allows them to better identify with the Singapore identity. On the other hand, an international school also provides a multicultural environment with students coming from a wide range of backgrounds and countries. Students get to experience different cultures through the interaction with their teachers and classmates who all have their own unique life experiences while allowing them to stay connected to the language and customs of their home country.
As its name would suggest, the local neighbourhood school environment offers your children a chance to enter the local education system and are put through the curriculum for the Cambridge International Examinations that would put them through from primary school, secondary school, junior college to the local universities. A thing to note is that there isn’t much variation from that since it is the national standard. Something that parents appreciate is the fact that their children are learning within a bilingual program, raising their language proficiency skills that would benefit them greatly in the future.
In an international school setting, they offer a wider range of education options through learning through experiential education approach via the International Baccalaureate, International Primary Curriculum or the IB Diploma Program. For families who are in Singapore on a shorter stay, attending an academic institution that shares the same curriculum as your home country might help them transition better during your child’s education years. These programs would help ensure your child gets a firm footing when they return to the educational system back home.
For an expat child, it is certainly much easier for children to make friends when in an international school, especially when they share similar backgrounds and cultures. While it has to be said that making friends is much easier when there are much more in common, children very easily see way past that and most of them make life-long friends when they enter a local neighbourhood school. By experience, most of the little ones don’t find it much of a problem making friends in a local school, allowing them the opportunity to befriend locals and make life-long friends. For the little ones, it would also be beneficial having the opportunity to befriend locals and make them life-long friends, giving them a deeper appreciation and understanding of the culture of others different from them.
Can Expats Get Into Local Schools?
The public school vs international school conversation is something that is impossible to avoid. Some parents prefer to let their children join up a local school because of its price, accessibility or the immersion into local culture. The doors are definitely open for expat children to join up a local school and it starts by determining which phase you are in, dependent on your visa status (foreigners are typically in phase 3, while locals would get first priority). This check can be done on the MOM website and if your child is entering into a primary school from a different grade, they would have to sit on an entrance exam called the Admission Exercise for International students before they can be considered and allocated to a suitable level.
Regardless of which school you pick, both options encompass a holistic approach in their teaching, allowing students the chance to learn academically with strong academic values and pursue what they truly enjoy after-hours with the extra-curricular activities on offer.