School Transfers in Singapore

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School Transfers in Singapore

Three main reasons for transfers within international schools in Singapore are the wide disparity in the cost of education among international schools, the option of following a curriculum of choice, and school facilities and extracurricular activities. These are discussed below in detail. Also, discussed below are the main criteria that parents look at while researching new international schools for their children.

Main Reasons for Transfers Within International Schools in Singapore

Wide Disparity in the Cost of Education Among International Schools

  • One of the main reasons for most transfers within international schools in Singapore is the high cost of education associated with international schools and the wide disparity in tuition fees among schools. A study of the annual tuition fees in 27 international schools in Singapore conducted in July 2019 revealed that the average annual tuition fee ranges between $17,000 and $50,000.
  • Getting a child admitted to an international school in Singapore involves the parents paying application fees, building maintenance costs, enrollment or registration fees, fees for extra-curricular activities, examination fees, insurance fees, and contribution to the parents' association, among other costs.
  • The above study also revealed that there is no homogeneity among international schools in Singapore when it comes to charging fees from parents. While schools like the Overseas Family School and the Swiss School do not charge any application fees, the International French School (formerly called Lycée Français de Singapour) charges as much as $5,350 for new registrations.
  • The above disparity is not restricted to application fees only. Some schools charge $900 per year for the school canteen while others charge as much as $1,800. The cost of transportation on school buses can vary from $1,100 per year for some schools to $6,100 per year for other schools. Some schools charge $30 for school uniform whereas others charge up to $250.
  • There are also several international schools in Singapore that charge extra for studying English as a second language. Some schools offer sibling discounts to families that have more than one child studying in the same school. Some schools ask for full upfront payment, whereas other schools give parents the option of paying in installments.
  • As per the above study, the cheapest school among the 27 international schools surveyed was the Middleton International School (cost of enrolling a new student was $18,725), whereas the most expensive school was the Singapore American School (cost of enrolling a new student was $49,864). Since international schools in Singapore offer the same or equivalent standard of education, the cost incurred in educating a child becomes an important factor in school transfers in Singapore.

Option of Following a Curriculum of Choice

  • International schools in Singapore generally follow one of eleven curriculum types. These are as follows: preschool curricula that include the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum and the Montessori curriculum; national curricula that include the American Education Reaches Out Standards (AERO) curriculum, the Australian curriculum, the CBSE curriculum, the French curriculum, the German curriculum, the GCSE curriculum, and the IGCSE curriculum; and international curricula that include the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and the IPC curriculum.
  • When the parents think of repatriating to the country of their origin, they generally transfer their children to the international school that offers a curriculum similar to the schools back home.
  • Students also transfer from one international school to another if they do not get the subjects and languages of their choice in their earlier school.
  • The International French School (formerly called Lycée Français de Singapour) is one international school in Singapore that gives students the chance to transfer to other international lycées (almost 500 in nearly 200 countries) based on the curriculum of choice.

School Facilities and Extracurricular Activities

  • The majority of international schools in Singapore offer world-class facilities to students. Olympic-sized swimming pools, innovation centers, 600-seater auditoriums, climbing walls, and technology tools are some facilities offered. For the all-round development of children, it is imperative that they get as much exposure to these facilities as possible.
  • Extracurricular activities are important for the health and happiness of children. These activities help to develop them in a well-rounded manner, teach them about teamwork and community, and help them stand out among similar candidates in the future.
  • Most international schools in Singapore offer a wide range of music, visual arts, and sports as extracurricular activities. While some schools have the cost of extracurricular activities included in the school fees, others do not have them included. Parents often select the international school for their children based on the extracurricular activities offered.
  • When the Australians Charmaine and Paul Keogh sat down to select an international school in Singapore for their four children, they looked at schools that would meet the interests and individual needs of their kids, would be caring, academically challenging, and would have many extracurricular activities in the roster. They selected the Australian International School for their children.
  • Students often transfer from one international school to the other when the facilities and extracurricular activities offered in the earlier school do not meet their satisfaction levels.


Main Criteria Looked at by Parents While Researching New International Schools

Based on the above reasons for transfers within international schools in Singapore and reports of interviews of parents that have their children studying in international schools, the main criteria that parents look at while researching new international schools in Singapore are presented below.
  • The annual school fees play a major role in school selection. This point has been discussed extensively above.
  • The school curriculum and the subjects and languages offered are other important factors in school selection. These points have been discussed extensively above.
  • Many parents want their children to have access to the best facilities and extracurricular activities for their all-round development. Hence, these points become important factors in school selection.
  • Many parents look at the school culture and values while evaluating international schools in Singapore. The Americans Jeff and Shelley Young transferred their children from an international school in Singapore to the International Community School when the first school did not allow the children to practice their Christian beliefs.
  • Several parents look at the diverse nationalities of students while transferring their children from one international school to another. The Americans Rebecca and Ben Daniels transferred their daughter Cora to the Stamford American International School after looking at the diversity of the students and the IB teaching philosophy of the school.
  • Parents also consider the quality of teachers and the education offered while selecting a new international school for their children.
  • Every international school in Singapore has its application process. These are detailed on the school website and in the school brochure. When a school reaches its admission capacity and cannot induct a new student, it gives parents the chance to join a waiting list. This often influences parents to try a new international school for their children.
  • The location of the school and commute options also influence parents while researching new international schools for their children.
  • Different international schools in Singapore have different start dates for the academic year. Schools that follow the curriculum of the Southern hemisphere nationalities (like schools following the Australian curriculum) have their academic year from January to December, whereas schools following the curriculum of the Northern hemisphere nationalities have their academic year from August to July. This plays an important role in school selection.

Research Strategy

Since the initial hour of research found the main reasons for transfers within schools under the Singapore Ministry of Education, we wanted to follow the same strategy while researching the main reasons for transfers within international schools in Singapore. However, even after extensive searching, we could not find any survey report that explicitly listed the main reasons for international school transfers. This is because such a survey has not been undertaken yet. We found several articles written by reputed online journals like HoneyKids Asia, GuideMeSingapore, SmileTutor, and the Good School Guide. These articles discussed steps in choosing the right international schools in Singapore and gave a list of the top international schools in Singapore. We also found an article written by Expat Living that covered interviews of parents that have transferred their children to international schools in Singapore. These interviews gave several insights on why parents chose particular schools for their children. By picking the best and most valid points from all the above sources, we have compiled this research report.



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