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Which international school has strongest academic provision?

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today
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Which international school has strongest academic provision?

Postby today » Wed, 09 Dec 2009 3:22 pm

My sons attend an academically selective British prep school and are at or near the top end of their age. The eldest, age 12, has received a conditional offer to attend the strongest academic secondary school in the UK.

I have scanned many of the forum's debates and other sites but I have not been able to get a clear picture as to which of Singapore's International Schools would be suitable.

I would be most grateful for advice!

We seek great teachers, child-centred education, sport & ECA and my children will probably seek to attend top end American universities. They would benefit from a school that is academically selective or uses setting and streaming for the main subjects, or at least a school where academically advanced students are identified, nurtured and challenged.

Many thanks for your help

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road.not.taken
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Postby road.not.taken » Thu, 10 Dec 2009 9:30 am

It's difficult to know at age 12, but if you really think your children will go on to a US university I would strongly consider Tanglin, Singapore American School or UWC. US colleges like to see a few AP courses in their applicants, and SAS offers the most (38 I believe?). Of course, it doesn't matter so much if you'll be in Singapore for only a few years. None of these schools are truly academically selective, their charters don't permit it since they were formed with the express purpose to educate the children of a specific group, regardless of academic ability. Search the various forums and the schools websites, then call the schools and ask questions. Good luck! :)

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Postby today » Thu, 10 Dec 2009 3:44 pm

Thank you road.not.taken for your advice. It is greatly appreciated!

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Postby scarbowl » Thu, 10 Dec 2009 5:02 pm

The schools topic is debated endlessly, it seems. But perhaps, rather than searching for the "best academic school" you should consider which offers the environment in which your child will be the happiest, an environment he will WANT to participate in, and be eager to go.

There are plenty of good schools here. Whether you go IB (there are many) or AP (only SAS) you can find a good school. The "added value" of the best academic school may result in a more competitive and less-happy experience for your child. If you want the "best academics" you would probably select Raffles and you child may find himself an outsider and without as many athletic or options courses and spend much of his time on maths and science.

However, you might be one of those parents who organizes a constant stream of activities and "enrichment" courses (violin, Mandarin, etc) for your child and maybe the social environment isn't of interest to you. Your interest in an academically selective school suggests this is true.

Again, you'll find the whole range of opinions on schools. Raffles and Anglo-Chinese stand out academically and, if this is really what is important to you then you should visit them.

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Postby today » Thu, 10 Dec 2009 5:19 pm

Hi

Thank you very much for your time in explaining the schools.

I looked at Raffles but it does not appear to be an International School. It appears to be an elite school for bright Singaporeans and its penchant for order as displayed by its choice of images and language is a little shocking to me and my cultural baggage and not something my children would thrive in. Its not what they are used to and they would not be happy even if their best and best loved subjects are maths & science.

The International Schools recommended sound like they would be very good. I will just be seeking to find out how they handle children who are ahead in the class in certain subjects so the boys don't get bored and are sufficiently challenged otherwise they will lose interest.

Thanks again! and best wishes

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Postby wkwoods » Wed, 16 Dec 2009 6:08 pm

The best high school for Math and Science is the NUS High School of Math and Science, which is affiliated with the National University of Singapore

http://www.highsch.nus.edu.sg/#

From an Australian friend who has both his children there, it is truly a challenging curriculum with students thrust into university level science and math courses and a strong focus on research.

This is a sharp contrast to Raffles Institution, which focuses on well-rounded kids and sports. I'm not surprised that you are a little shocked by the imagery and language at Raffles. It's a really old British school founded in 1823, which decided to retain some of the old British traditions of centuries past. Fortunately its not operated that way.

I would try something like UWC first as dropping your British kids into an American curriculum at SAC might be a shock to them. If they aren't challenged, then consider trying a top local school. The IB curriculum is well understood and recognized by top American Universities.

We put our kids into the local school system after finding the International Schools not challenging enough when my daughter was about 8. But this was before middle school. We had intended to move them back to International School when they reached middle school age, but they seemed to thrive in local schools so we left them there and they have done fine.

This may be controversial to some forumers, but if you really want them to get into a top Ivy League University, they would stand the best chance by dealing with the culture shock and hacking it out at one of the elite local schools. They have Ivy League acceptance rates that are among the highest in the world.

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re local schools Raffles etc

Postby today » Wed, 16 Dec 2009 8:12 pm

Many thanks for your advice re local elite schools, Raffles & the Ivy Leagues.

My children once spent 2 years at an American school in England, it was marketed as an International School, but it was essentially American, 50%American students and not just the passport, and my sons loved it. When they arrived afterwards at the selective British prep school they had a good academic level in everything except of course British history and they had studied different things in geography, but it was pretty much plain sailing, except for the initial bullying at the prep school!

They have always lived in England (Western but non-British parents) so given the general shock of suddenly living in Singapore (i.e. any different country), I want to minimise the culture shock at their school and they will slip into an American school easily, especially one with an international flavour as that is what they experienced before and it was very positive. The Surrey-based American school was so child-centred and they received a genuinely tailored education. I loved the positive can-do attitude too which I miss at the British prep school though it has other endearing qualities.

The (American) school wasnt always easy going for a non-American Mum, but it was great for the children, which is just fine by me, especially also if they can cater sufficiently for bright children and can help ease their path to a top university. I can keep control of the Krispy Kreme intake.

This forum has been so helpful. When I have something I can share that's of any use I'll join in again.

Best wishes

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Postby chub » Thu, 04 Feb 2010 5:13 am

Hi Today,
Im moving from London to Singapore in July with a 6,9, and 11 year old. They also go to very selective British schools in London, and are doing thriving. Your questions and concerns echos mine exactly! Can you please let me know what you end up choosing and why, when you finally decide? I would REALLY appreciate it.
Hbubu

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Choosing the right school

Postby today » Thu, 04 Feb 2010 6:04 pm

Hi Chub,

Its worrying isnt it and it is far from clear. I found the answers above however really helpful. We are also very likely to be moving in the summer but in my case it's not sealed yet. Based on what I have read and the replies above I have compiled a shortlist and as soon as my family knows we are definitely going I will be on the next plane to go and visit the schools themselves and make applications at the schools that seem most suitable and where we have a chance of a place. It's an expensive research exercise (to fly to Singapore) but I think essential. For me, getting the school right will be absolutely key to our family's happiness in Singapore.

I am fortunate in that my children have experienced both the British and the American and a continental education system so I know what is likely to make them happy. All 3 were very different. For my children, it is likely to be an American school but I would want to go there and visit the actual schools, talk to the students, teachers, heads, parents, before just trying to book them a place from afar as every school is different. And I have learned that websites and school marketing booklets leave out most of a true description of a school's experience. And every one's feedback, as extremely valuable and helpful as it can be, is filtered by their own concerns and perspectives.

Sorry I havent added much but based in London I cant just yet!

Good luck!

Today

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Postby chub » Thu, 04 Feb 2010 7:07 pm

I left my husband to do all the school visits, he has been there on/off over the last couple months...which also leaves me a bit worried...Our children are younger, and with the possibility of coming back to the UK in a few years, we have decided with Tanglin. I am American, and my husband British. Im not a big fan of the British way of educating, it has its positives, but...I like the American and UWC attitude of 'can do' , and think 'outside of the box', much more. However, we have to hedge our bets...just incase we do come back to the UK, which is the 'official' plan. My husband is trying to calm me down, and is saying that when we move there in July, we will get a better idea if we like Singapore for a longer-term stay. If we do like it, and feel we might stay longer, I think I may look into changing the children to UWC as they get to the middle school age: 11-14. If and when you move, send me a message, we can perhaps meet up.
Hbubu

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Postby today » Thu, 04 Feb 2010 11:44 pm

Will do

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Postby Loiret » Mon, 08 Feb 2010 6:40 am

Hi everyone

We are also likely to move from the UK to Singapore this summer and have the same kind of questions as I have read here. Our children are 11 and 8 and are very fortunate to go to a good independant school in Oxfordshire. We have been told that if we stay my son has a very good chance of getting a place at one of the nearby independant boys senior schools. If we go to Singapore for 2-3 years he will have to try for entry at 13 instead which is more competitive. We need to find a school which keeps up the high academic standard he is currently attaining and which allows both children to return into the UK curriculum with minimum difficulty. Next week we are going to visit Tanglin, Dover Court and UWC East Campus. We really like the look of Tanglin but know the waiting lists are long...will let you know how we get on anyway..

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Postby today » Mon, 08 Feb 2010 8:48 pm

Thank you!!!

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Postby chub » Tue, 09 Feb 2010 3:01 am

Looking forward to hear your thoughts!
Hbubu

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Postby kittikani » Mon, 15 Feb 2010 6:20 am

Hi everyone, hope you're all well.

Just thought I would share some insight on Dover Court and UWC as I've studied in both these schools, I'll try and be as objective as possible. :)

I joined Dover Court as an ESL student and moved to UWC before taking my IGCSE's (O' levels equivalent I presume) - it's a small but nice school. British based curriculum adapted to the needs of International students. Friendly atmosphere, caring staff and teachers. They also provide education for children with special needs and I remember fondly that we sometimes had integrated classes (learning sign language) with these children to teach us to appreciate the importance of diversity and to care for each other. More often than not, students of DCPS usually proceed to UWC to complete their IGCSE's and I.B.

As for UWC, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, both academically and personally. If I'm not mistaken, UWC is ranked as one of the best International Schools in SG. They offer a wide variety of ECA's, particularly during 11th and 12th grade (I.B.) which was challenging but rewarding. I took English Lit, French, Business Studies as my higher subjects and Spanish, Mathematics and Science, Society and Technology (6 subjects).

On top of that I had to satisfy a minimum of 50 hours (approx.) of CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) - I ended up doing a lot of community service (riding for the disabled, volunteering at a home for the elderly), joined the school's netball and volleyball team (for action hours), took an after school Art class and acted in some Theatre productions. Basically on top of my studies, I needed to satisfy other requirements, which definitely helps to instil time management skills and self-discipline into me whether I liked it or not. There were also classes such as Theory of Knowledge (philosophical discussions), a mini Dissertation that I had to prepare on my preferred subject and a Project week which I had to plan without adult supervision (all very exciting for an 11th grader).

The UWC education system truly embraces cultural diversity and Global Concerns. When they say that they put a lot of emphasis on 'service, cultural and political sensitivity and all round achievement in both the academic and activity areas', they really do. My teachers always challenged me but were also very supportive, some even offered to help tutor me after school when I had difficulties (Physics and Chemistry). Before the I.B. exams, there was a university advisor who discussed my options with me and helped to guide me in the right direction for my university applications (Durham was my choice).

I don't know where you will be living but it may be useful to know that both schools offer transportation services to pick up your children and drop them off after school.

I hope that helped and if you have any further questions, feel free to ask and I'll try my best to answer :)


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