Types of schools in Singapore: how to find the right one?

Types of schools
Types of schools

There are two types of schools in Singapore: public (also known as mainstream) and private. Most international students attend private schools, as public schools give priority to Singapore Citizens (SC) and Permanent Residents (PR).

Public (general) schools

International students will be considered for enrollment in Singapore Public Schools once all SCs and PRs have been allocated a place.

If you are planning to apply to a public school in Singapore, here is what you need to know:

  • Most ordinary schools follow the national curriculum established by the Ministry of Education.
  • Since classes are taught in English, your child must be able to speak English fluently before he or she can be admitted to a public school.
  • As part of the curriculum, your child will need to learn one of the Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) in primary school. Official MTLs include Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.
  • If your child enters Primary 1 (P1), she must register during Phase 3 of the P1 Registration Exercise. Learn more about P1 Enrollment for International Students.
  • Students entering Primary 2 to 5 or Secondary 1 to 3 must take an admission and English proficiency test before they can be considered for admission.

If your child is admitted to a Singapore public school, you can expect her to receive a rigorous, high-quality education with plenty of opportunities to develop her strengths and pursue her interests.

That being said, it is not that easy for foreigners to enroll in ordinary schools in Singapore. Places for international students are very limited and you will have to pay higher tuition fees compared to local Singaporean families. If you are applying to a public school, you should have a backup plan in case your child is not offered a spot.

Private schools

Private schools, also known as independent schools, have more flexibility when it comes to curriculum, course offerings, and tuition fees. many of is

Private schools, also known as independent schools, have more flexibility when it comes to curriculum, course offerings, and tuition fees. Many of these schools cater to Singapore’s expatriate population, making them a great choice for international students as well.

Most private schools are country specific or international.

  • Country-specific schools, such as British or American schools, follow the national curriculum of a certain country. They are an excellent choice for expat families who anticipate returning to their home country at the end of their tenure in Singapore, or if they plan to send their children to a specific (known) country abroad for university.
  • International schools, on the other hand, follow a globally oriented curriculum (such as the International Baccalaureate (IB). Students are exposed to a wide range of cultures and languages, and some schools have more than 50 different nationalities represented in their student body. With a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion, international schools top the list for many foreign parents.

Whether you choose an international or country-specific school is up to you and your child.

Keep in mind that the curriculum and culture can vary greatly from one school to another. Some schools, for example, focus more on academic outcomes, while others provide a more holistic education, providing the necessary academic, physical, social, emotional, and life skills children will need for future success.

That being said, applying to an international school is fairly straightforward as long as you have completed the requirements. You should also keep in mind that private education in Singapore can be quite expensive. However, these higher fees also mean that your child will receive a high-quality education under their chosen curriculum and enjoy access to world-class facilities.

application process

The application process will vary depending on the school you choose in Singapore.

For ordinary schools:

Complete the required application forms and pay the fees:

  • If your child wishes to be admitted to Primary 1, you must express your interest online.
  • If your child is entering another grade level, request the corresponding admission test online.
  • Have your child take the AEIS or S-AEIS test (if applicable).
  • Wait for the launch of school offers. If your child has been offered a spot, she must report to the offered school within the reporting period. Otherwise, your child’s space will be offered to other students.
  • Your child will need a Student Pass to study in Singapore, unless she has a Dependent Pass (DP), Immigration Exemption Order (IEO) or Permanent Residence (PR) in Singapore. Visit the ICA website for more information on applying for a student pass.
  • If your child is 12 years of age or younger, they must meet the Diphtheria and Measles Vaccination Requirements. before applying for a student pass.
  • Send parent/caregiver details to the school. If your child has a caregiver, they must be a Singapore citizen or permanent resident over the age of 21.

For private schools:

  • All international schools in Singapore are required to publish their admission process on their public website. Check the process on the website and contact the school directly to start the admissions process.
  • Your child may be required to take certain entrance tests and an English language proficiency test (if applicable) to ensure placement in the appropriate grade for them and to determine if additional EAL support is needed.
  • Apply for “Vaccination Requirement (VR) Verification (for Entry into Singapore)” document from the Health Promotion Board (for foreign-born children aged 12 and under who are first-time applicants for immigration passes long-term in Singapore).
  • If your child is offered a spot, the school will guide you through the Student Pass Application Process (if required). A student pass is not required for children with a Dependent Pass (DP), Immigration Exemption Order (IEO) or Permanent Residence (PR) in Singapore.
  • Send the details of the parent or guardian to the school.

How much does it cost to study in Singapore?

The school fees you pay in Singapore will depend on the type of school your child attends.

School fees in Singapore public schools

Singapore government school fees vary depending on your child’s state of residence. As a foreigner, you will have to pay a monthly tuition fee, as well as various fees

Similar to other countries, private education in Singapore is more expensive than public education. Tuition fees can range from S$12,000 to S$50,000 per year depending on the school chosen.

In addition, tuition fees are subject to a 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will increase to 8% from January 2023.

Some schools offer flexible payment plans and scholarships. You can contact the school’s admissions team directly to confirm if they offer payment options, scholarships, or discounts.

How to choose the right school for your child in Singapore

Choosing the right school is not always easy. Here are some tips to help you select a high-quality school where your child can learn and thrive.

Browse the available curricula

The curriculum you choose should be aligned with your child’s learning style, strengths, and interests.

You should also consider your child’s aspirations before entering high school, as the path she takes may affect her future opportunities. A good curriculum will give your child a strong academic foundation while giving her the skills and knowledge she needs to be successful in the future.

Talk to the admissions officers

If you are choosing between two or more private schools, speaking with the admissions team will help expedite your search. They are a great resource for information you might not find online, especially when it comes to school culture and non-academic programs.

You can also request virtual or in-person tours of the campus to get a better idea of what the school experience will be like.

Compare school fees

Whether you have chosen a public or private school, tuition fees in Singapore can be quite expensive. Researching school fees will help you determine how much to set aside per month or year for your child’s education.

Please note that school fees do not end with tuition. You may also have to pay for school buses, uniforms, lunches, learning materials, and extracurricular activities. Knowing these rates will help you choose a high-quality school that is within your family’s budget.

You should also consider the total cost of “lifetime” education. The fees you can expect to pay can (and do) increase dramatically through the older grades, so you shouldn’t compare fees in the grade being considered for admission.

Ask about the facilities and extracurricular activities

Many international schools offer world-class facilities such as auditoriums, swimming pools, tennis courts, e-sports facilities, technology labs, and more. It is important to know how often your child will use these facilities and how they will benefit your child’s education.

In addition, you will also want to look at the extracurricular activities (ECA) that are available for your child. ACEs help children discover new skills and interests in a safe learning environment.

In addition to checking the list of available ECAs, you should also confirm with the school if they are free or if additional fees must be paid separately.

Check the location of the school

Location is an important consideration when choosing a school in Singapore, especially for young children. It is important to know how close the school is to your home and what your child’s transportation options will be.

Door-to-door school bus services are available to most public and private school students. You can approach the school directly for more information on bus options and fares.

Some schools also offer courtesy bus services from nearby MRT stations, so feel free to ask the school if they have this arrangement.

Connect with other parents or guardians

School culture is a very important factor in any child’s education, but there is no way to experience it without first enrolling in school. Connecting with other expats or foreign families can help you determine which schools may be a good fit.

You can ask questions like:

‘How is the school environment?’,

‘How does the school support learning?’,

‘How does your child feel about going to school?’, and more.

These testimonials will help you select the best possible school for your child based on her educational needs and personality.

Find the best school for your child in Singapore

Choosing a school for your child requires a lot of research, especially if you are considering a school abroad.

Starting or changing schools can be challenging and stressful. CatEight Course Application is here to assist you and your child in studying in Singapore. With it, you can search for schools, colleges and universities across Singapore, compare the study programs to find the right one. Besides, you can apply for the program and Student Pass online easily.

Whether you are in Singapore or abroad, CatEight Course Application will be happy to guide you and your child through the application and admission process. 

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