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international schools vs local schools?

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wkwoods
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Postby wkwoods » Fri, 23 Oct 2009 8:37 am

I didn't deliberately misconstrue your quotations. I just read it as its written. I do see your point of view. I'll just add a few points.

Its not true that all of the International Schools are not academically selective. UWC may not be selective, but some of the newer International Schools like SJI Intl are. The International Schools are at the academic level of the 2nd tier local schools just as the International Schools are not at the level of top US and British schools.

I would put the top Singapore schools on the same academic level as the top US and British schools. The environment isn't bad either. Kids at the top Singapore schools with the Integrated Program (IP) are quite relaxed and not exam focussed. Because they don't have to take the O levels, they only get serious at the 11th and 12th grades when they have to work on the A levels. I can't help but think that your view on Singapore schools is 15 years old!

I do agree, however, that the majority of the less competitive schools, particularly the Chinese and Government schools, are too exam focussed. However there are plenty of good local "Independent" schools with excellent facilities that focus on providing a holistic, rounded education and are not exam focussed. You can have a choice among the local schools.

I first came to Singapore as an educator at the University level and still have a lot of friends who are in the teaching business. We all see the environment evolving for the better quickly. I don't hear of wealthy Singaporeans sending their kids overseas anymore like they used to. In fact the number of expatriates who send their children to local schools has boomed as benefits are cut.

Parents who live in major cities tend to be more intense about education because they observe the wealth and success around them. I moved here from New York City and I can tell you that parents there are super intense about getting kids into the top schools. Singapore may be a country, but its really just a large city. I'm threfore not surprised that parents are as intense about their childs education here as New York.

Lastly, if there is one negative about the local system and going to american universities is that it takes too long. Because local schools are on a calendar year and US universities start in fall, students in the Singapore system enter college at 19 rather than 18 and get to play for about 8 months after their A levels. Surely this isn't a sign of "rushing through childhood"

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road.not.taken
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Postby road.not.taken » Fri, 23 Oct 2009 9:04 am

And around and around it goes... OK, I'll leave it here, the nitpicking is wearing thin. The sunny side is there are tons of choices in Singapore and foreign students no longer have to attend an International School to get a decent education.

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Postby wkwoods » Fri, 23 Oct 2009 10:25 am

Some more interesting titbits about local Singapore schools. Two Singapore schools are patterned after New York City schools.

NUS High School of Mathematics and Science is patterned after the Bronx High School of Science. Both have a strong focus on research.

Sigapore's School of the Arts is patterned after the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the FAME school) and collaborates with them as well as other well-known arts schools.

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Postby `lester » Sat, 31 Oct 2009 2:29 am

martz wrote:
boffenl wrote: In the 4 months since she's been enrolled in Primary 1, she is reading at 2nd grade (US) level, enjoys math (since it's taught as a mind game!), has Manadarin class everyday, computer lessons at school, art, music, social studies and of course, recess, that makes her LOVE local school. I would strongly recommend to ALL expat parents that they check out their local primary school, you may find their facilities are better, yep, BETTER, than some of the International Schools.


I hate to say this - that math and content subjects are not that impt anymore- thats traditional and old way in education! If the local schools focus on those, i would say, thats a throw back to the old days!

International schools emphasizes creativity, social interactions & class discussions that are inquiry based. Your child gets to do fun things & homework/tuition are not something forced down on! Moreover, your child gets to mix better with a more intl class. Its dreadful to think that local schools drill your child in math, science & languages! Tests & textbooks should not be used anymore - it should be inquiry based rather than traditional rote learning. Intl schools give you a varied program - and helps your child with the easier route via higher weightage on many subjects tat can be part of internal assessment work that will boost your child's chance at college!



i would think that, if somebody like Jim Rogers is more than willing to enrol his daughters into a local school, then thats more than an assurance already
woodrow wilson tigers!!

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 31 Oct 2009 7:16 am

You got that right.

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k1w1
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Postby k1w1 » Sun, 01 Nov 2009 8:28 am

wkwoods wrote:I didn't deliberately misconstrue your quotations. I just read it as its written. I do see your point of view. I'll just add a few points.

Its not true that all of the International Schools are not academically selective. UWC may not be selective, but some of the newer International Schools like SJI Intl are. The International Schools are at the academic level of the 2nd tier local schools just as the International Schools are not at the level of top US and British schools.

I would put the top Singapore schools on the same academic level as the top US and British schools. The environment isn't bad either. Kids at the top Singapore schools with the Integrated Program (IP) are quite relaxed and not exam focussed. Because they don't have to take the O levels, they only get serious at the 11th and 12th grades when they have to work on the A levels. I can't help but think that your view on Singapore schools is 15 years old!

I do agree, however, that the majority of the less competitive schools, particularly the Chinese and Government schools, are too exam focussed. However there are plenty of good local "Independent" schools with excellent facilities that focus on providing a holistic, rounded education and are not exam focussed. You can have a choice among the local schools.

I first came to Singapore as an educator at the University level and still have a lot of friends who are in the teaching business. We all see the environment evolving for the better quickly. I don't hear of wealthy Singaporeans sending their kids overseas anymore like they used to. In fact the number of expatriates who send their children to local schools has boomed as benefits are cut.

Parents who live in major cities tend to be more intense about education because they observe the wealth and success around them. I moved here from New York City and I can tell you that parents there are super intense about getting kids into the top schools. Singapore may be a country, but its really just a large city. I'm threfore not surprised that parents are as intense about their childs education here as New York.

Lastly, if there is one negative about the local system and going to american universities is that it takes too long. Because local schools are on a calendar year and US universities start in fall, students in the Singapore system enter college at 19 rather than 18 and get to play for about 8 months after their A levels. Surely this isn't a sign of "rushing through childhood"


In my time teaching in Singapore (in both local and international systems), I have seen and experienced a bit of both sides of this topic.

International schools ARE sometimes academically selective. UWC does not allow students to enter into grade 11 if they have not attained excellent IGCSE results. Not all of them are though.

I have no idea where you are getting your information about International Schools being at the same level of 'second-tier' local schools. Why do you think this?

Kids in top local schools are not under stress? :lol: You are so far off the mark there, it isn't funny. I would consider a teenager who goes to sleep at or after midnight on a regular basis (because they're studying), who regularly attends tuition classes till after dark, and who lives in fear of not getting through their next lot of exams is a child under phenomenal stress... And there are many, many kids like that in local schools. Their stress is possibly only second to the stress of their parents, who are terrified of them not doing well, and this trickles all the way back to drilling kids in subjects and at levels from kindergarten.

Yes, change is coming. Yes, that is a good thing. However, there is still some way to go... I was at a local secondary school yesterday, and heard a few parent-teacher meetings where students were told by their teachers that they were "lazy" or that they ought to be ashamed of their results. (These were kids in the express stream, by the way). Parents sat and listened in total silence. It was very sad.

More expat families are putting their kids in local schools, that is true. Have you asked the many of them how they are finding the experience? International Schools are not perfect (is anywhere?) and their price tag is enough to turn many people off. However, I would strongly recommend thinking very carefully about putting a child into the local school system, as it is certainly not suitable for everyone...

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Postby wkwoods » Wed, 04 Nov 2009 10:44 am

k1w1 wrote:I have no idea where you are getting your information about International Schools being at the same level of 'second-tier' local schools. Why do you think this?


I did not say that they are the same "level" of 'second tier' local schools, rather I said that they are at the same "academic level" of the 2nd tier local schools. There is a difference.

I have first hand experience. My kids were in the International School system. I moved them into the local school system and one of them is just finishing up at one of the top JCs. The International Schools are excellent schools which provide a well-rounded education to a broad range of students, but they are not as good as the top local schools like Raffles or Hwa Chong. RI and HC are as good as top British and American private schools. How would you compare your International School to a top school in the US or UK for example?

Kids in top local schools are not under stress? :lol: You are so far off the mark there, it isn't funny. I would consider a teenager who goes to sleep at or after midnight on a regular basis (because they're studying), who regularly attends tuition classes till after dark, and who lives in fear of not getting through their next lot of exams is a child under phenomenal stress... And there are many, many kids like that in local schools. Their stress is possibly only second to the stress of their parents, who are terrified of them not doing well, and this trickles all the way back to drilling kids in subjects and at levels from kindergarten.


No disagreement here generally, but its obvious from your reply that you have no idea of the environment and capability of kids at the top Singapore schools. If you taught in the local schools system, you probably were at a 2nd or 3rd tier school as you are describing the environment at some 2nd or 3rd tier local schools, particularly the more Chinese ones. You also have no idea of the environment at schools with the Integrated Program, where you have very smart kids who don't need to take "O" levels. Believe it or not, RI and HC kids play a lot from Secondary 1 to 4.

Yes, change is coming. Yes, that is a good thing. However, there is still some way to go... I was at a local secondary school yesterday, and heard a few parent-teacher meetings where students were told by their teachers that they were "lazy" or that they ought to be ashamed of their results. (These were kids in the express stream, by the way). Parents sat and listened in total silence. It was very sad.


We shouldn't imply that our culture, values and parent/teacher relationships are any better than the Singaporeans'. While you think its sad, it seems to work for them. However, I wouldn't expect this to happen at a top local school. I certainly have been very engaged with my kid's teachers over the years and with a few exceptions, have been quite happy with how they interact with me and my children.

More expat families are putting their kids in local schools, that is true. Have you asked the many of them how they are finding the experience? International Schools are not perfect (is anywhere?) and their price tag is enough to turn many people off. However, I would strongly recommend thinking very carefully about putting a child into the local school system, as it is certainly not suitable for everyone...


I don't disagree with you that paying up for an International School is wise if your child is average or below average in performance. However, many expatriate kids do well in the local school system and are quite happy there. Different strokes for different folks.

I would also not paint all the local schools with a single negative brush. There are a great variety of local schools in Singapore with different levels of weighting on academics versus holistic education. There are also specialised schools in sports, arts and science. Point is you should think very carefully about whether it is worth it to put a child into the International School system even if you can afford it because the local system is better for some.

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Postby k1w1 » Wed, 04 Nov 2009 10:34 pm

Not sure why this has turned into a contest when it need not be. I am not intending (or even needing) to defend my school, or any other International School. I am certainly not all against local schools either - in fact, I have advocated them many times in the past.

I strongly disagree that "the system works" for as many as you seem to think (and there are many Singaporean parents who will openly tell you this, if you cared to ask them). I also strongly disagree that these so-called top schools are simply wonderful centres of well-rounded educational experience - no school is perfect, including Singapore's top schools.

You have obviously made your choice, and you are obviously happy with it. It does not mean that other people will have your experience, or that others are looking for that particular experience for their children (I certainly wasn't and was a major factor for me moving into an International School).

As an aside, your post came across as quite judgmental. How do you know what my assumptions are about the general ability of children in local schools are - and how does this have anything to do with schools I may have worked in in the past, or what programmes I know of? How have I made judgements on Singaporean culture or traditions? (By suggesting that shame and criticism are not the best way to approach children?) This is not Singaporean culture - it is an outdated attitude that is unfortunately still too prevalent here (but IS changing). Suggesting that this works for 'them' is far, far more insulting...

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Postby wkwoods » Thu, 05 Nov 2009 10:44 am

Its not a contest. I agree with everything you just said (although not your original post) including your criticism of me being judgemental. So let this be the end of it.


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