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!
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.
Except 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.
Little Steps composed a Guide to School Curriculum Choices in Singapore that provides a perfect starting point towards settling on a perfect framework for your particular learner! When you figure this step out, you will be much closer to pinpointing your ideal schools.
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:
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 resident 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.
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. Even though the COVID-19 situation is currently complicating visits, most schools still offer virtual tours and hold one-on-one meetings online!
Check out our Guide to Top International Schools in Singapore and get a shortcut to information about their application process!
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:
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!