Schooling in Singapore - An Expat's Guide

Globalisation has provided professionals with job opportunities all over the world. Thankfully, there are many established international schools in Singapore providing first-class education as well as a social network for expatriates who are a long way from home.

Choosing a school for your child is one of the most difficult decisions you would have to make as a parent. Compound that with the fact that you are miles away from home, and the decision to choose the right school takes on a new significance.

Your Child’s Needs

At the forefront of all factors in selecting a school for your child are his or her unique needs. You may have a child who is deeply passionate about sports, and a school that provides the facilities and opportunities would be highly attractive. On the other hand, you may have a young child and therefore, teacher-child rapport becomes a priority. Your child may have special needs that require a school that can genuinely help him grow in a multitude of ways while overcoming his challenges. The thing to remember is that children’s needs change as they grow and it is up to the parents to recognise what is best for them and be prepared to take the necessary action.


If you’ve pulled your child out of a school from another country or are planning to place them back into a particular system, then the curriculum of the school is likely a key factor in your decision. Most of the international schools in Singapore offer both International Baccalaureate (IB) as well as the system from their home country, such as British (Tanglin Trust), American (Singapore American School and Stamford American International School), Canadian (Canadian International School), Australian (Australian International School), German (German European School Singapore), French (Lycée Français de Singapour) and Indian (National Public School) amongst many others.

IB is offered across three levels in certain schools, namely Primary Years, Middle Years or Diploma, while some may only offer it at the Diploma level. It is important to clarify with the school before making decisions.

Some international schools boast outstanding facilities while others pride themselves on a smaller but more close-knit community.


At first glance, international school’s fees’ may cause a few heart palpitations unless it is included within one’s employment contract. These days it could cost more than what many of us paid for our tertiary education! However when you look at the myriad of subjects, resources and activities that are available, hosted within phenomenal facilities, the numbers begin to make sense.

One major distinction between the international schools in Singapore is whether they are ‘for profit’ or ‘not for profit’.  The ‘for profit’ schools educate whilst seeking a return for their shareholders. The ‘not for profit’ schools educate and pour the revenue back into the school materials, salaries and maintenance and so on.

Another point to note is that school fees rise on a yearly basis. Other costs to keep in mind are admissions fees, extra curricular fees, field trips, uniforms, and the purchase of a tablet or laptop as stipulated by the school.

Other Factors

Some other factors to consider when choosing an international school are the long waiting lists, which may take years. You may also want to select a school with holiday periods that are in sync with summer holidays in your home country. Demographics play an important part in your selection, as there is a choice with how cosmopolitan you want your child’s interactions to be. Some international schools boast outstanding facilities while others pride themselves on a smaller but more close-knit community. In the end, the decision comes down to what you believe is best for your child.


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