Schools in Singapore


Locals in Singapore place a high premium of education and Singaporean parents expect their children to do well at school.

Expats moving to Singapore will therefore find a broad range of well-established schooling options available. There are options for public, private and international schools in the city-state, but parents should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each before deciding on where to enrol their children.

There are a range of excellent local schooling options in Singapore. Having expat children attend a local school in Singapore has the benefit of allowing them to mix with local students, rather than just expats, which in turns aids in assimilation. This is definitely an option worth considering in cases where a family is looking to settle in Singapore in the longer term.

Schools in Singapore generally use English as their primary medium of instruction, which means the language barrier isn’t an issue for English-speaking expat students. Furthermore, the cost of attending either a public or private school in Singapore is significantly less than the school fees associated with international schools in the city-state.

The best Singaporean schools tend to be oversubscribed with priority going to local students over expats. Local students are highly competitive and are under considerable pressure to perform. Expat parents may feel that the local curriculum places too much emphasis on learning by rote, rather than encouraging critical thinking.

Corporal punishment is legal and encouraged by the government for disciplinary purposes, though it may only be used on boys. Nevertheless, many Westerners have trouble adapting to this system of discipline.

Singapore has a well-established expat community, and it follows that several international schools have sprung up to service this population. Overall, international schools in Singapore have a good reputation, though some are generally regarded as having higher standards than others.

Many of Singapore's international schools follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, while others offer the curriculum of their country of origin. Some expats choose to enrol their children in the latter simply because it means that the school holidays align with home-country holidays. Following a similar curriculum as the one followed in an expat student’s home country also makes the transition into a new school significantly easier for children.

Another factor that greatly affects school choice is availability, as popular schools often have long waiting lists. It is therefore best to begin the application as soon as possible.

International schools in Singapore are expensive – however, many expats are lucky enough to have their employers supplement their school fees. Those moving to pursue an assignment abroad should try to negotiate an allowance into their contract if one isn't initially included.