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questions re SAS and the new Stamford American schools

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tanusa
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questions re SAS and the new Stamford American schools

Postby tanusa » Fri, 24 Jul 2009 2:36 am

Hello. Although not finalized, it looks like we'll be relocating to Singapore. It will be a few months before my kids (2 and 4) and I can go (my husband will probably go before us), so my daughter will miss the beginning of the school year. She has one year of preschool or Pre-K left, so it's not a huge issue, but I'm wondering if I'll have trouble getting a spot for her mid-year at SAS or Stamford American. I'm also concerned about applying for schools I've never actually seen. I don't think I'll have the opportunity to fly out for a visit before moving there.

Did any of you choose your school without actually visiting it first? Also, anyone move in the middle of the school year?

Also, how long after you applied to your child's school was he/she accepted? Just wondering how far in advance I need to apply. I'm assuming as soon as possible.

Thank you!

skye
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Postby skye » Fri, 24 Jul 2009 3:20 pm

Singapore American School has a very good reputation. Downside is it is far from the centre by Singapore standards (the island is small so may not be far by american standards), in Woodlands, and huge. It may be full for the year group you are looking at and have a waiting list, but enrolment was recently reopened to non-Americans so I guess some spots are freeing up. Only way to find out is call the admissions people.
Stamford American is nearer the centre and is brand new and not actually open for students until next month. Guess getting a spot there should be much easier.
Another option is to put your children in a pre-school near your home once you've decided where to live and move to "big school" a bit later. Loads of people move mid-year, and your children are so young I wouldn't pay out for a school before you get here and have a look.

tanusa
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Postby tanusa » Sat, 25 Jul 2009 1:13 am

skye wrote:Singapore American School has a very good reputation. Downside is it is far from the centre by Singapore standards (the island is small so may not be far by american standards), in Woodlands, and huge. It may be full for the year group you are looking at and have a waiting list, but enrolment was recently reopened to non-Americans so I guess some spots are freeing up. Only way to find out is call the admissions people.
Stamford American is nearer the centre and is brand new and not actually open for students until next month. Guess getting a spot there should be much easier.
Another option is to put your children in a pre-school near your home once you've decided where to live and move to "big school" a bit later. Loads of people move mid-year, and your children are so young I wouldn't pay out for a school before you get here and have a look.


Thanks for your reply. The suggestion of putting my daughter in a preschool near home is a good one. I'll have to check out our options for that.

movingtospore
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Postby movingtospore » Sat, 25 Jul 2009 4:24 am

We are Canadian, and in the same boat as you - my children are 2 and 5. If we go ahead with this move it will be in the middle of the school year.

I don't know about the American school, but I contacted the Canadian International School and they still have spots for the coming school year. So the waitlists may not be that bad, perhaps because of the economic situation. We're also looking into United World College but may opt for the Canadian school in the end, we'll see.

Good luck.

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Postby Pentium » Sat, 25 Jul 2009 8:26 am

Stamford American School has a small class size... about 8 kids at the moment. It's good for very young kids.

tanusa
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Postby tanusa » Tue, 28 Jul 2009 3:30 am

movingtospore wrote:We are Canadian, and in the same boat as you - my children are 2 and 5. If we go ahead with this move it will be in the middle of the school year.

I don't know about the American school, but I contacted the Canadian International School and they still have spots for the coming school year. So the waitlists may not be that bad, perhaps because of the economic situation. We're also looking into United World College but may opt for the Canadian school in the end, we'll see.

Good luck.


Thanks for your message. We are considering the United World College too.

Good luck if you go ahead with the move. Looks like we'll be making a final decision this week. So much to think about!

tanusa
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Postby tanusa » Tue, 28 Jul 2009 3:33 am

Pentium wrote:Stamford American School has a small class size... about 8 kids at the moment. It's good for very young kids.


Oh wow, eight kids is amazing. I did contact the school a few weeks ago. It looks promising, but I think I really want to wait until we get there before making a decision. thanks for your reply!

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SAS, Stamford etc.

Postby MCNB » Fri, 04 Sep 2009 12:57 am

My daughter is 4 and we are exploring our options for kindergarten in 2010. She is currently in preschool at the Little Skool House, which we mainly chose because 1 teacher speaks only Mandarin and this is a high priority for us.

I visited SAS and was given a tour. When it comes to infrastructure and resources, it is the school you would build if you had a lot of money and would likely be our first choice for an older child. As for kindergarten, my feeling is that she would not take advantage of it fully. The only comparison that comes to mind is how you can buy a toddler a really fancy toy but they'll often get more enjoyment from the cardboard box it came in.

SAS offers Mandarin but at K-2 it's only 2-3 days/week for about 40 mins/day. Not immersion, and more comprehensive language classes do not start until 3rd grade. I do not understand why -- other parents are incredulous, too -- but maybe it just reflects demand. We are going to meet with Admissions at Stamford next week so I'll post what I learn. My understanding is they have a stronger focus on foreign language than SAS but they are also brand new (just opened in Aug 2009).

SAS, like other private schools, has a lot to be proud of. At the same time, they believe their own hype, know what I mean? It would be hard to go wrong sending your child there, is my guess, but they might not be right for us.

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Visited Stamford American International School today

Postby MCNB » Tue, 08 Sep 2009 1:38 am

I visited Stamford American International School today to meet with the Admissions advisor and get a tour. I am looking at kindergartens, so keep that in mind.

The school is located next door to the Australian International School. I knew this already: Both are owned by a for-profit named Cognitas, which operates 50 International Schools worldwide and several schools in the UK (their headquarters). When I Googled Cognitas I did not find anything negative about the schools, only concerns that they were poaching from other (perhaps underperforming) schools. The guy in charge was controversial because when he ran the public schools he tried to shake things up. Sounded like in the States where you have good teacher's unions but at the same time it can be hard to get rid of bad teachers. Enough about that. The company beat out 29 other applicants to build an International School in Singapore and is spending about $250 million (not sure if SGD or USD :) )

The school is located next to a highway, which I wasn't thrilled about. However there was a breeze (rare in Singapore) so I didn't notice pollution. The campus is their temporary quarters for the next two years. The buildings are basic, three stories, probably prefabricated but not shipping containers as others have implied :) I saw a slide show showing the new buildings that will be under construction -- it's going to be very nice, and in a better location. The current school (the "Foundation campus") uses the Australian school's swimming pool but everything else is separate. At the new location they plan to ultimately expand to 2500 students (all grades), and offer the American high school degree and the IB (decision made by student at age 16, I think).

It's very small right now. A handful of teachers. One kindergarten class that will be later divided in two. About half of the classrooms are completely empty, ready for growth. Small playgrounds and a small soccer field (with nice looking astroturf that will withstand the rain better than real grass). I saw the IT room, music room, library, art room and classrooms. All nice. My only concern would be the music room which has carpeting (probably for acoustics). It's so new that the carpet has a VERY STRONG chemical smell. They probably need to let that room air out a bit. Bottom line: Compared to SAS (the other school I looked at so far) I'd be happy with the resources provided to young children.

The teachers and principal general come from an international teaching background (the principal, I think, most recently was in Dubai). It seems that each teacher has a spouse who also teaches or works at the school -- again, I'm not surprised given these are people who have worked across the globe. The teachers I met briefly seemed nice. I am also familiar with their nurse, as she worked for years with the US military family community. She has a great reputation. I suppose the only issue I could think of is if your child did not like their teacher, there aren't a lot of choices. It's not something I'd worry about.

Stamford places more emphasis on language than SAS. Whereas SAS teaches Mandarin 3 days/week (first thing in the morning), Stamford offers it 5 days/week, mid-day (45 minutes per class). It's not immersion but it is a significant difference. For us, this could be the deciding factor. The chinese teacher is a native speaker and I was told she came to Singapore to set up a Mandarin program for a local school.

As for location, one of the slides says they are located near about 85% of the expat community. The school buses, like most schools in Singapore, are run by a private bus company.

That's about all I can report. Clearly the new campus will be nicer than the temporary quarters. But the truth is that my 4 year old would not notice the difference.

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SAS

Postby Melzyr » Wed, 09 Sep 2009 6:41 pm

Hi, I have two children at SAS that just started thier first year here. My daughter is in 2nd grade and I also have a son in 11th grade. I know, big gap! I can't tell you how wonderful this school is. The attitudes of the teachers is what sold us. They want to teach! They are so enthusiastic, unlike the teachers back in the US. I live in the Orchard area and the kids take the bus. I was a little concerned about putting my daughter on the bus but no fear...there's a bus nanny. Her job is to make sure that your son/daughter gets on and off the bus when and where he/she is suppose d to. Back to the school...amazing, the facilities and the teachers are top-notch. Go to thier website: www.sas.edu.sg and you can see for yourself by watching the online video. It's all that it shows and more. I'm not sure what opening they may have for your little one but the answer is just a phone call away. Be prepared, however, wherever you send your child to produce every document under the sun. If your files are in order you will be fine. They will want: birth cert., immunization records, copy of passports, extra passport photos (get a lot made up) previous school records, etc.

MCNB
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Mandarin at SAS

Postby MCNB » Thu, 10 Sep 2009 1:19 am

Correction to my previous post: Mandarin in Kindergarten at SAS might only be 2 days/week, not three. I'll have to verify.

katy2
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Postby katy2 » Thu, 10 Sep 2009 1:22 pm

SAS is an amazing school! My son just started Kindergarten there and he loves it. I am sooo impressed with the facilities and the teachers. I was so worried about the lengthy bus ride and it really isn't an issue. There are a ton of pre-schools here that I hear are great if you want to wait until next year for SAS. There are alot of Non-American kids at SAS now because of the economy alot of Americans have been shipped back to the states opening up slots. We are American but we had no problem getting in a month before school started. Previously I heard that there was up to a year waiting list. Hope this helps.

tanusa
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Postby tanusa » Sat, 19 Sep 2009 9:51 pm

thanks so much for all of your feedback. The review of Stamford was great. thank you so much! Also, the info on SAS is always impressive. I didn't know they have bus nannies. That is great to here.

Thanks again for all the feedback on this forum. I know it takes time to sit and write reviews and feedback. It's really appreciated!

pupsiecola
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SAS

Postby pupsiecola » Tue, 08 May 2012 4:16 am

Hi there. I tried to PM those of you who have posted on these thread but I've not posted enough apparently! I just wanted to say that we're seriously considering SAS for our 9 and 7 year old boys (from the UK) and I wondered how you were getting on. But it's 3 years on and you might not even see this...

scarbowl
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Postby scarbowl » Wed, 09 May 2012 4:21 pm

If you haven't applied to an International School by now, you will not likely be admitted for August 2012. Just a caution. Best to call and inquire as to waitlists.


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