Local vs international schools in Singapore

While the majority of expats in Singapore send their children to an international school, some families choose to go the local route. There are pros and cons to each, so here’s some information to help you weigh up your options.
Local vs international schools in Singapore
By Carli Allan
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While the majority of expatriate children will attend an international school in Singapore, a small number will choose to enrol in a Ministry of Education-run local school.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com explores the benefits, application process, and key feature of each school system...

Local, international or local international?
There are three main types of school within Singapore. The government-run local schools which offer low-cost primary and secondary education and follow the Ministry of Education (MOE) curriculum. The private international schools, which are operated by various independent owners and education groups, and follow various international curricula. And the local international schools, which are privately funded but managed by the MOE, and  have the freedom to set their own curricula and fees.

To get you started, here are the pros and cons of each type of school.

 

Local schools

  • Low tuition fees 
  • Immerses students in Singaporean culture
  • MOE curriculum is "home to the world's best education system" (OECD study, 2016)
  • Very rigorous curriculum, particularly in maths and science
  • Very results-driven approach to teaching
  • Encourages bilingualism, but focuses on Mandarin
  • Priority placement for Singaporean citizens
  • Choice of girls, boys or co-ed schools
  • Average class size of 40
  • Larger teacher to student ratios
  • Teachers assigned by the MOE
  • Must adhere to the MOE's strict guidelines

 

International schools

  • Higher tuition fees 
  • Strong focus on global learning and internationalism
  • Very international student community
  • A more holistic and international curriculum
  • Focus on extra-curricular activities, sport and the arts 
  • Wider choice of second and third languages 
  • Priority placement for expats/foreigners 
  • Modern facilities, state of the art technology etc 
  • Co-educational
  • Average class size of 25
  • Lower teacher to student ratios
  • International team of teachers
  • Have a considerable degree of autonomy

 

Local international schools

  • Higher tuition fees than local schools
  • Combines MOE and international curricula
  • An international student community
  • Wider choice of second and third languages 
  • Admission is open to both Singaporean and expat students
  • At least half of the students must be Singaporean, but high numbers of international students
  • Choice of girls, boys or co-ed schools
  • Choice of all-through and secondary schools
  • Average class size of 25
  • Lower teacher to student ratios
  • International team of teachers
  • Have a considerable degree of autonomy

>> Admission

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