Ultimate Guide To Applying To International Schools In Singapore

All Parents And Kids Need To Know When Applying To Schools In Singapore

Welcome to Singapore, an academic hub with an educational system that consistently occupies the top of global rankings! As parents, we know that picking a school is at the top of the list of hard decisions a parent has to make as they want their loving home life to be accompanied by a nurturing, stimulating, and inspiring learning environment. This guide is designed to help you organize your worries, strategize your approach, and give you information on the system, the curricula, the paperwork, and more!

Key questions you might ask?

Key resources for school applications in Singapore?


    If you're moving to Singapore with kids, you're faced with the burning dilemma between choosing a local public school or an international private school. Local education in Singapore is managed by the Ministry of Education (MOE). The language of instruction in Singapore is English, so language is not a deciding factor. There is a significant difference in fees, though, but the fact that it’s very difficult for foreign kids to get a spot at local schools could be a deciding factor against your wishes (the same goes for Singapore kids and private schools, who need to get MOE's approval).

    It’s an understatement to say that Singapore’s international schools offer world-class education – at the beginning of this year, half of the perfect scorers in IB examinations globally were Singapore students. On the other hand, local schools have an exceptionally high standard of education as well and will immerse your kids in the culture of Singapore and enrich their perspective and experience in otherwise unattainable ways.

    Key Resources For Local Versus International School Options In Singapore:


    Except for the Singapore National Curriculum developed by MOE, Singapore offers many other curricula, including the British, American, Australian, IB, and even Forest School Curriculum. With so many top-notch options, it can be overwhelming to begin to understand, let alone choose, the different curricula that Singapore schools offer.

    Key Resources For Choosing The Best School Curriculum In Singapore:


    While we’re at the subject of pinpointing schools, don’t settle on just one – shortlist a few. We suggest sitting down together and making a checklist. Here are some of the things to consider:

    • What is your kiddo like and what do they like; what drives them, ignites their interest, engages them and positively challenges them; what demotivates them or paralyzes them. Do they like sports, art, STEM or thrive on constant variety?
    • What kind of curriculum do you prefer? How rigid or free do you want your kid’s education to be? How important is academic prestige to you?
    • What are your values – the school environment is a crucial part of your kiddo’s upbringing and the values that the school emphasizes and strives to nurture should match your own!
    • What is your budget – this, unfortunately, is a big and unavoidable one, but should never outweigh other criteria.
    • Where are you located? If you haven’t moved yet, maybe the choice of school can point you to your new address and not the other way around.

    Local Schools: International students can register at local schools for Primary 1 during Phase 3 of the P1 Registration Exercise, which takes place after all citizens and permanent residents of Singapore have been allocated a place. Local schools require you to submit an online “indication of interest” form through the MOE P1 website in June to be able to enroll later in the year. MOE then notifies international applicants via email in October to let them know if their child can be offered a place and inform them how to register.

    • Key Resources For Choosing A Local School In Singapore: Learn the details here! The procedure is different for international students applying for Primary 2-5 and Secondary 1-3 and you can read about it here!

    International Schools: International schools have different application timelines that are more flexible (often year-round), but many also have long waiting lists. We highly recommend visiting the schools you’ve shortlisted and get answers to your questions first-hand from the Principal and other staff members. It’s one thing to read about a school on paper and another to experience the atmosphere and explore the facilities in person.


    Once you decided which schools you want to apply your child at, you’ve done the hard part, but the work isn’t done! Triple-check you budget for the whole year for each of your options, triple-check the documents you need to apply, fill out the (online) form with great attention to detail and make sure to attach all the required documents. Required documentation can include:

    • Completed and signed application form
    • Application fee
    • Passport-sized photo
    • Copy of child’s and/or parents’ birth certificate, passport and immigration status/visa
    • Report cards
    • And more!

    Always check with the schools in question! Pro tip: mark the date of application so you can do a follow up with the school and inquire about the status of your submission. Good luck and make sure to treat yourself for completing this scary, exciting, and life-defining procedure!

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