Comparing Singapore’s international and local schooling for expatriate children

Comparing Singapore’s international and local schooling for expatriate children

Comparing Singapore’s international and local schooling for expatriate children

If you’re relocating with your family, one of your most important tasks is to make sure your kids get the right education.

Adjusting to a totally unfamiliar culture and environment is tough enough for adults, but it’s even more tricky for the younger members of the family. A crucial part of ensuring the move doesn’t disrupt their development is finding a school which suits their personalities as well as their academic progress to date. In the vast majority of favoured expat destinations, there’s a choice between local schools where language may cause problems and expensive and occasionally overrated international education facilities.

The first step for expat parents is to establish their children’s goals for their futures, along with watching carefully to ensure these goals are being met by their new school. If the destination is Singapore, the task may be easier than in a good number of other expat relocation
destinations. For a start, English is widely spoken and the city-state itself has a huge expat community integrated within its everyday life and familiar with its multicultural aspects. Matching your children’s personalities and abilities with the many available educational choices is easier when advice is readily available.

For example, Singaporean students traditionally top international rankings in reading, science and math, but local critics of the education system as a whole fear the system is promoting formulaic thinking unsuitable for many youngsters’ development.The positive side of the local system is its focus on a solid work ethic and self-discipline, important for self-directed students who enjoy competition. However, Singapore’s international schools follow the precept of creative thinking, learning via research and questioning if necessary. The two opposites are fine, but don’t fit all students, giving the risk of a square peg in a round hole if personalities aren’t taken into account.

If expat parents see integrating into the local culture as essential, local schools are the better option as this encourages a sense of belonging, and the high turnover of pupils in international schools can be a negative as regards finding and keeping the stability of close friendships. As regards examinations and progression to university level, the majority of Singapore’s international schools use the International Baccalaureate system, making it easier for pupils to transfer to international universities. Few local schools offer this, relying on GCSE O and A level examinations overseen by Cambridge University and using standards equal to those in the UK, thus ensuring a problem-free transition to studies either overseas or in Singapore.

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