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The school dilema - moving to SG

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flowing
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The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by flowing » Sat, 11 Apr 2015 8:25 pm

Hello everyone. We are a family of 4 and I am currently in discussions with my employer about relocating to SG this summer. I have done as much research as possible on the primary school topic, but some things are still a bit unclear to me and I will appreciate advice from any fellow parents who had to go through this and will be curious about your views!

While we are considering the option of International Schools, the company is probably not going to pay for it, though the salary itself may allow for this option to be a possibility. On the other hand, if we can go to public school, the money would be a good saving instead, so I really want to explore the option of public schooling, especially with the crazy pricing those days with over 25k SGD per child a year at minimum. My children are 6 (girl) and 8 (boy) years old and should go to the 1st and 3rd grade respectively (we are based in Europe).

So here are the questions!

1. Getting into school - MoE mentions the OPTION of a central test for admission. However it seems to me that its also possible to get their general ok and then apply/get tested directly at the school of choice? Which one is it? To be honest, while both my children speak mandarin (my wife is Taiwanese) they speak no english, so I dont see how the older kid could pass the test. Additionally we would of course like both kids to go to the same school and not have them half a city apart.

2. Is it even remotely realistic to get them into school mid term, given that public schools start in January? We would probably come over late June/early July (trying to make the tax year in SG!). I will likely have an E-pass and kids a DP.

An additional complexity here is the start date.... if they would join mid year, e.g. our older boy who is about to finish 2nd grade - wouldn't make sense for him to join the 2nd half of 3rd grade, because he wouldnt be able to keep up. Should he rather re-join second half of 2nd grade? Daughter would be stuck at home as a to-be 1st grader. Maybe the best thing would be to send them to International School for 6 months until the public schools start.... and catch up with their english skills a bit.

3. How happy are you with the public schools if your children are going there? Is there any recommendation of schools with a higher chance of free spots? How do you even pick a school with no local knowledge. I know I will be working somewhere central (Beach Road-ish), but I dont mind to commute to work.....

4. Did you perhaps have experience with starting out in intl. school (e.g. for a half year or year and half) and then moving over to public school after obtaining PR?

5. Is there even any intl. school that doesnt charge 20k SGD or more per year? I was looking at the Swiss School as being kinda cheaper (except registration fee). My next career step in a few years may be actually to Germany, so I wouldn't mind my children to learn a bit of German too, but I think they will be busy catching up with English, Singlish and Singarin....

6. Anyone got crazy enough and has experiences with simply living/schooling in Johor, while working in SG?

EDIT - adding question 7

7. As an option, does anyone know about a suitable combination of a kindergarten/preschool facility, which also can offer preparatory courses for primary III? This could keep them busy for the second half of the year..... as an alternative to putting them short term into an International School.

Its just a lot to take in! Any advice will be appreciated ~ And of course will be happy to post updates for those interested.

thank you!
Last edited by flowing on Mon, 13 Apr 2015 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dert42
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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by Dert42 » Mon, 13 Apr 2015 9:35 am

I've heard so about so many problems about getting in to local schools, combined with our potential future plans, that we haven't really considered local schools.

As for your #4 point, it seems you may be unaware the International Schools all have application/facility/bs fees that amount to thousands of dollars. For the privledge of paying them tuituion, you need to pay them around a minimum of $5k(sgd) to get in the door. It would make no sense at all to go to an International School for a short period of time. Unless maybe if your employer was paying for it. But even then that seems like a giant waste of money.

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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by ginger_bread » Mon, 13 Apr 2015 10:48 pm

flowing wrote:Hello everyone. We are a family of 4 and I am currently in discussions with my employer about relocating to SG this summer. I have done as much research as possible on the primary school topic, but some things are still a bit unclear to me and I will appreciate advice from any fellow parents who had to go through this and will be curious about your views!

While we are considering the option of International Schools, the company is probably not going to pay for it, though the salary itself may allow for this option to be a possibility. On the other hand, if we can go to public school, the money would be a good saving instead, so I really want to explore the option of public schooling, especially with the crazy pricing those days with over 25k SGD per child a year at minimum. My children are 6 (girl) and 8 (boy) years old and should go to the 1st and 3rd grade respectively (we are based in Europe).

So here are the questions!

1. Getting into school - MoE mentions the OPTION of a central test for admission. However it seems to me that its also possible to get their general ok and then apply/get tested directly at the school of choice? Which one is it? To be honest, while both my children speak mandarin (my wife is Taiwanese) they speak no english, so I dont see how the older kid could pass the test. Additionally we would of course like both kids to go to the same school and not have them half a city apart.

2. Is it even remotely realistic to get them into school mid term, given that public schools start in January? We would probably come over late June/early July (trying to make the tax year in SG!). I will likely have an E-pass and kids a DP.

An additional complexity here is the start date.... if they would join mid year, e.g. our older boy who is about to finish 2nd grade - wouldn't make sense for him to join the 2nd half of 3rd grade, because he wouldnt be able to keep up. Should he rather re-join second half of 2nd grade? Daughter would be stuck at home as a to-be 1st grader. Maybe the best thing would be to send them to International School for 6 months until the public schools start.... and catch up with their english skills a bit.

3. How happy are you with the public schools if your children are going there? Is there any recommendation of schools with a higher chance of free spots? How do you even pick a school with no local knowledge. I know I will be working somewhere central (Beach Road-ish), but I dont mind to commute to work.....

4. Did you perhaps have experience with starting out in intl. school (e.g. for a half year or year and half) and then moving over to public school after obtaining PR?

5. Is there even any intl. school that doesnt charge 20k SGD or more per year? I was looking at the Swiss School as being kinda cheaper (except registration fee). My next career step in a few years may be actually to Germany, so I wouldn't mind my children to learn a bit of German too, but I think they will be busy catching up with English, Singlish and Singarin....

6. Anyone got crazy enough and has experiences with simply living/schooling in Johor, while working in SG?

EDIT - adding question 7

7. As an option, does anyone know about a suitable combination of a kindergarten/preschool facility, which also can offer preparatory courses for primary III? This could keep them busy for the second half of the year..... as an alternative to putting them short term into an International School.

Its just a lot to take in! Any advice will be appreciated ~ And of course will be happy to post updates for those interested.

thank you!
Q1,2,3,,4: You join a facebook group called "Singapore Expats in Local Schools". Lots of parents there can answer your questions and advise you.

Q5: Which county are you from? What other languages do your children speak? Global Indian charges less than 20K a year. The French school is also less than 20K for French nationals and around 20K for non-French. There are some other continental European International Schools such as German European / Swiss / Dutch. You can take a look at their fees, but I think all of them charge more than 20K.

Q6: don't know

Q7: You can join some homeschooling groups. Again the facebook group I mentioned above could provide you with useful alternatives.

Good luck.

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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by flowing » Tue, 14 Apr 2015 7:20 pm

Thanks for the facebook link, I will try that one....

On the Indian schools - I have indeed checked those. While they are clearly cheaper, but as they seem to cater really mostly or exclusively to Indians, I would be concerned if they would fit in. I will probably have a look at the Swiss School... they have very high registration costs, but the tuition fees are below 20k.

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PNGMK
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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by PNGMK » Tue, 14 Apr 2015 11:10 pm

Consider homeschooling? Also International Community School.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

flowing
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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by flowing » Wed, 15 Apr 2015 6:03 pm

PNGMK wrote:Consider homeschooling? Also International Community School.
If Homeschooling is a must for 6 months - perhaps, but we are a tad conservative and prefer actual schools to take care of your kids education. Anyways - International Community School is actually the cheapest school out there (compared based on P3 costs), but the curriculum appears is also 'more than average' religious with mandatory bible studies, etc. and without getting touchy or anything - religion is the one thing (unlike the rest of studies) that I prefer to get done between parents and children, not between some stranger and my kids.

Anyways, I have actually created a whole list of the majority of intl. primary schools incl. their registration and tuition costs - if anyone is interested, I will be happy ti email it over. It may not be 100% accurate or perfect, but surely helps.... (I am missing the indian, french and dutch schools in my list as my kids know none of those languages).

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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by ginger_bread » Thu, 16 Apr 2015 11:02 am

flowing wrote:
PNGMK wrote:Consider homeschooling? Also International Community School.
If Homeschooling is a must for 6 months - perhaps, but we are a tad conservative and prefer actual schools to take care of your kids education. Anyways - International Community School is actually the cheapest school out there (compared based on P3 costs), but the curriculum appears is also 'more than average' religious with mandatory bible studies, etc. and without getting touchy or anything - religion is the one thing (unlike the rest of studies) that I prefer to get done between parents and children, not between some stranger and my kids.

Anyways, I have actually created a whole list of the majority of intl. primary schools incl. their registration and tuition costs - if anyone is interested, I will be happy ti email it over. It may not be 100% accurate or perfect, but surely helps.... (I am missing the indian, french and dutch schools in my list as my kids know none of those languages).
I also keep track of International School fees!
Dover Court International School charges about the same as ICS (around S$24000 per year). ICS quotes tuition fees excluding 7%GST. So you'll need to add that in. There is also an annual re-enrollment fee.
Dover Court quotes tuition fees inclusive of 7%GST. There is also a termly building fund to pay.

flowing
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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by flowing » Wed, 13 May 2015 4:16 pm

Thanks everyone for their help. It seems its a go so far, though with pretty limited budget on the school selection. We will start with International School and then attempt to enroll to public school as soon as viable.

So now we need to find the right IS. The issue now is that my kids actually speak no English whatsoever at the moment (focused on other languages). Do you have any experience with Swiss School with non english/non german speakers or Dover Court (if they have an opening at all?). ICS so far told us not to bother given the lack of English skills.

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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by ginger_bread » Thu, 14 May 2015 9:50 pm

If you children speak no English and no German, why would you want to place them in the Swiss School, where they will need to learn two new languages simultaneously? You have chosen to keep the information private, but I assume currently they need to speak at least two other languages (since you wrote "focused on other languages"). Don't you think this would be too much for your children, needing to adapt to a new country, make new friends, learn two new languages, and keep up with the "two" languages they have been speaking?

I suggest that you find some English lessons for your children now in the country where you are, no matter in which school you will enroll your children in Singapore. Dover Court has special classes for ESL / EAL children before their level of English is good enough to attend mainstream classes. Most of their ESL / EAL children are Japanese or Korean.

In any case, you can contact the Swiss School and Dover Court to inquire directly, just like how you did with the ICS.

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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by flowing » Thu, 14 May 2015 10:17 pm

Well the choice of languages is simple - English is a must for SG and useful for the future, Germany may (or not) be a location in future after SG. Anyways, Swiss school is one of the cheapest ones, which is a consideration for self-payers. Dover was on my list, but they are full already and we'd be on a waitlist. IIS could work, but their website is not very informative and I will have to see if I get a chance to see them in a possibly short timeframe.

Ultimately I'd like to get them into public school, but we all know what the situation is there....

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Dover Court International School- things to be considered

Post by Verity1 » Sat, 14 Nov 2015 5:46 pm

Dover Court is a very small school. The staff are excellent but education is basic. There is very little to compare with other International Schools in terms of resources, ICT provision or extra curricula activities. If your children require additional support then SEN provision is good but stretched and ESL provision is a mess. If your child requires ESL they will be placed in a seperate class for all subjects, class sizes are currently around 18-20. They recently had a senior ESL teacher leave because of this situation. I feel that Dover Courts transition has been poorly managed and there is no real vision at present. I am sure this will change in time but I wouldn't send my child there until it does. Ask lots of questions is my advice.

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Re: RE: Dover Court International School- things to be considered

Post by ecureilx » Sat, 14 Nov 2015 6:18 pm

Verity1 wrote:. They recently had a senior ESL teacher leave because of this situation. I feel that Dover Courts transition has been poorly managed and there is no real vision at present. I am sure this will change in time but I wouldn't send my child there until it does. Ask lots of questions is my advice.
Should I ask, what's going on ????? With you and Dover Court ?

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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by Clarice1 » Thu, 21 Jan 2016 2:54 pm

The closed FB group Singapore Expats in Local Schools has done surveys of admission rates into P1 for this year (2016), and also of acceptance rates for the AEIS exam - which is compulsory for any child wishing to enter any later than P1. No more approaching schools directly. The results are grim. Expat children without PR have about a 20% chance (probably less) of getting into a school reasonably close to where they live - via P1 entry. They have a roughly 70% chance of getting no school at all. As for the AEIS exam, the chances of success are very small indeed. Then there are a whole lot of issues to do with so-called Mother Tongue, which cannot be English. The situation for expats is already very bad, and getting steadily worse.

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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 21 Jan 2016 4:42 pm

Then there are a whole lot of issues to do with so-called Mother Tongue, which cannot be English.
Since when? The mother tongue is always determined by the father's race/nationality. If the father is from an English speaking country then the mother tongue will be English. However, if the father's native language is not English then you have a problem. I was one of the first to go to war with the MOE back in the early 1980's over this as they tried to make my children take Tamil as their mother tongue (my wife's native language) however, their own rules state very clearly that the mother tongue is determined by the father's race (go figure) and if you took your mother tongue at first language level you had your choice of the other 3 major languages here as the second language. Both of my children took Mandarin at 2nd language level and English at first language level (but admittedly I was one of the first because that was back in the day when most expats had schooling allowances. I married a local and worked offshore in the oil industry.

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PNGMK
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Re: The school dilema - moving to SG

Post by PNGMK » Thu, 21 Jan 2016 10:39 pm

For sure no one can bank on local school entry. I wonder what the OP ended up doing?
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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