Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary School

Unlike entry to Primary Schools, admission into Secondary Schools is based on meritocracy. PSLE results are used as key admission criteria. Discuss everything related to PSLE and selection of Secondary Schools here.

Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary School

Postby SINGAPORENEW » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:47 pm

We will be moving to Singapore soon with our kids. Our oldest is 12 and needs a solid International secondary school, as he is very bright and particularly talented in maths. So far we have applied to UWC, SJI International and SAS. Does anyone have info on these schools and their academic quality? We are looking for a school with a detailed reporting system, streaming in Maths and if possible English and a school ethos that drives children to excel within their potential. We do not want a school that celebrates "meeting expectations".
We also applied to the German European School (GESS) as a backup, as waiting lists at the schools listed above are long. I can't find any information about GESS, their IB results, their math program etc. anywhere in the forums (only their website is well known). Again, I would appreciate any input on GESS any alumnus or parent may be able to provide...
Lastly, would it be overly ambitious to put our eldest into a good local school? How many expatriates go down that route in Singapore?

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby nurtureKids » Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:43 pm

My son has gone through 3 international schools in Singapore, although none of those u mentioned. I am beginning to realize that the local system might be better for a child that is average and above. By local system, I do include the 3 local international schools - SJI (I have heard many good things about this school from separate sources), ACS International and Hwa Chong International. If your child excels in Math, all the more u should consider the local system. My son is slightly above average but is not very motivated. He is currently in an international school, which he feels is not challenging for him and I am considering the local system but wonder how he would take to the local school stress level.

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby SINGAPORENEW » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:05 pm

May I ask which international schools your son went to and why you didn't like them? My child is bright, but also not overly motivated-except in Maths and Science. I fear that an international school will not inspire my children to push themselves, as most international schools are ok with academic mediocrity. But if I move them to the local system, will they maybe not fit in socially? We are Western expatriates after all, even if we don't always agree with Western educational principles.

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby nurtureKids » Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:10 pm

My child is currently at SAIS (pursuing IB). Prior to that he was in another IB PYP school. The first one that he went to was in pre-school (back then pursuing IB) My son was educated in the US K through 4th. My personal experience is that PYP programs arent that suitable for kids who are not motivated as they seem not to be able to give those kids an extra nudge or push to achieve higher. Also, I find that the PYP classes usually spills over to the other class times and thus the core subjects get pushed home or done in a rushed manner. As such, it may not be the schools but the PYP program. This is the only thing I don't like about SAIS, other than that, everything is great. With regards to fitting in socially, I think that foreigners in local schools are quite common - don't know if this helps?. I was also told by the admissions at ACS-Intl and SJI Intl, there is a 50% foreign and 50% local policy. Currently, I am favoring these local-international schools partly because students take the IGCSE and IB whereas local schools take the GCE. BTW, did you visit the singaporeexpats forum - they have more talk on international schools.

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby SINGAPORENEW » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:39 pm

Thanks, nurtureKids, that's very helpful info!
I have the same experience with the PYP. Too much time spent with the units of inquiry and insufficient and superficial core subject teaching. Result: Parents need to resort to teaching basics themselves (currently my case, as I am supplementing English and Math with homeschooling) or to hiring countless tutors to fill in the gaps. We are currently at a second tier IB school in Hong Kong, perhaps that is why our experience has been such a disaster.
I wonder if better international schools like UWC or SJI International somehow avoid the pitfalls of the PYP program. This would be helpful to know as it will influence our choice of schools in Singapore. Sadly, there seem to be few, if any non-IB schools except SAIS and SAS and Tanglin. The latter seems very geared towards British universities as a final destination, which isn't so great if you're planning on sending your kids to the U.S. for college. So, the next best choice seems to be a top IB school, if anything...

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby nurtureKids » Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:38 am

I am glad to hear someone sharing my point of view about PYP. SAIS is pursuing IB PYP, so curriculum is geared towards PYP. However, SAIS does have standardized testing like the schools in the US. They use MAP testing. For "pure" American-based curriculum, there are SAS and International Community School (ICS). ICS is a christian-based school and it seems quite small. I have not tried SAS since it has a long waiting list.
I have friends at UWC whose children are in the lower grades and some are supplementing Math and foreign language. One, in particular, finds the environment limiting as her child is an advanced reader. UWC does not have the MYP, so that might be to your liking, they have IGCSE. I think the Singapore Math is definitely more challenging than any other Math. I believe SJI does Singapore Math. With regards to Science, I have not found a school with a good science curriculum. The science fair project (which is a yearly affair for kids G5 and above in the US) is almost non-existent in any school here.

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby SINGAPORENEW » Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:04 pm

I am shocked that even at UWC it might be necessary to supplement teaching with homeschooling or tutoring! They have a reputation of being the top international school. Is that just hype?
I don't mind supplementing math, since I am sure there are plenty of great Singapore math tutors to rely on. This is what I do here in HK and we're very happy with our tutor, plus I can teach math myself. However, I find it extremely challenging to find good English tutors, so I'd like the school to take over most of the teaching in that area. It is important to be immersed in the language to learn it well. I wonder if there are there any international schools in Singapore that stream English? Plus, which school might possibly have the best English program?
As for science, I have the same experience here. There aren't quality science fairs to speak of in any of the international schools and the science lessons I have witnessed both in Elementary and Middle School are appalling, lacking both structure and creativity. I am not sure why that is, in particular since we are paying substantial fees to have our children go to these schools...

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby nurtureKids » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:04 pm

Frankly, my friend (whose child is in UWC) were discussing with the other parents (of UWC) and they all are, kind of, arriving at the conclusion that the international schools here does not seem to provide the quality education they get in their home countries. I am in agreement. Hence, the consideration for local school.
BTW, did you apply to UWC yet? Their admission policy is not based on 1st come 1st serve. As they have more applicants than vacancies, they use a "holistic" approach to select their newly-registered students.
I find that in the US, the private schools publish the results of the standardized tests, the awards their students receive or the college acceptances - to "prove" their worth. However, in Singapore, I haven't found an international school that have "proven their worth" in this manner. Instead it is usually how long their waiting list is??
Can't really help you on the language part. The 2 schools that my son attended these past 2 years, I really can't boast of their language program. I am comparing these to the US schools that my son attended. I think that checking out the American schools (SAS, ICS) is a good start. Good luck for your search. Hope to hear the outcome of your search

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby Playful mom » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:49 pm

I posted a reply on another message board, but thought I'd repeat it here.

I don't have info on the other schools but here it is for SAS:

Our Gifted and Talented Education (GATE ) math program is an accelerated pull-out program for students demonstrating a need for extended math curriculum for the year. Identified students study the math curriculum one grade level above their grade level. There is one GATE math class per grade level and students are released from their regular math classes on a daily basis.
Our Math Enrichment program is designed to enhance classroom learning beyond the differentiation extensions in the regular classroom with lessons designed to deepen students understanding of grade level mathematical concepts . Identified students engage in rigorous problem solving with instruction, supervision and feedback by the enrichment teacher . In a regular schedule five day week, students will attend Math Enrichment twice a week and remain in their regular classroom for three math lessons.
Within RLA, grade five students are also eligible for screening for our RLA GATE Program. Identified students further develop their reading and writing abilities by participating in real world projects involving creative problem solving and independent and collaborative projects. These students are released from their regular RLA classes on a daily basis.

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Re: Moving to Singapore and looking for a good Secondary Sch

Postby SINGAPORENEW » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:43 pm

Thanks for this info, playful mom. I had a chat recently with a grade 6 SAS mom and she pointed out that her gifted child had missed some of the core instruction going on in the regular classroom whilst participating in the gifted program. This the caused her to have some knowledge gaps. Is this a common problem? It sounds like GATE might be a new initiative?
Also, is there any streaming at SAS in addition to the strictly gifted program? At my child's current school there are 3 different math streams beside the gifted program to cater to a variety of abilities...

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