Singapore Expats

Thoughts on local primary schools

Interested to get your child into a local Primary School? Discuss the opportunities here.
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Would a local primary school be ok for an expat Aussie 5 year old?

Poll ended at Sun, 20 Nov 2011 7:15 am

yes
2
67%
no
1
33%
 
Total votes: 3

Aussie_family
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Thoughts on local primary schools

Post by Aussie_family » Thu, 10 Nov 2011 7:15 am

Hi there, we're an Australian family with a 2 year old girl relocating to Singapore in January 2012.

We're a few years off having to think about schooling for our little one but having read the forums I'm really concerned about what we'll do when she turns 5 and needs to go to school here in Singapore as we'll be on a local package and a schooling allowance isn't provided.

From reading the forum posts I get the sense that most expats send their kids to International Schools as the local schools are very academically competitive and there is lots of focus on 'making the grade' - is this the same for primary schools or are they a bit more relaxed?

The cost of International Schools does seem out of our reach (pre-school costs for 3 days a week at the Australian School is roughly $14,000).

Does anyone send their 5/6/7 year old to a local primary school and what has been your experience?

Thanks
S

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boffenl
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Post by boffenl » Thu, 10 Nov 2011 8:58 am

Hi,

I sent my daughter to a local kindergarten then a local primary school. She has thrived. My expectations of her academically are not rigorous--and her primary school is a neighborhood school that caters to all talents and abilities. She's in the top class in her grade and has received awards for her English (go figure!). The first year was a bit rough since we had no idea what to expect, but we asked lots of questions, joined the parent support group--and actually attended events at the school. We also became very friendly with other families in our HDB block whose kids attended the same school.

Honestly, the local education system was one of the reasons we chose Singapore and I couldn't have made a better choice for my daughter. Since you'll have plenty of time when you arrive, begin by noticing the school uniforms of students in your neighborhood. You'll learn soon which students are studious and which ones arent. :)

Then go for tours in a year or so to see the inside of the schools. It was an eye opener. My daughter's school is now 3 years "new" and has beetter facilities than my small college in the US--seriously.

Do get your permanent residency as it'll make life so much easier when she applies for school.

Good luck--you're starting to think early to make the best choices for your child!

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 10 Nov 2011 10:14 am

Like Boffenl, I also put my two kids through the local system, from Kindergarten through their tertiary educations (one's now 27 & the other is 22). Their bilingualism alone is worth a fortune to them now. The school system here has gone from strength to strength and the old days of "rote" learning and just the regurgitation of facts without knowledge are a thing of the past. In fact the US, in a lot of cities, are using Singapore's Maths Syllabus now.

But as noted, if you are planning on the long haul here, PR is a good way to go as it will decrease your schooling costs considerably - although it will still be more expensive that the local citizens get it for.
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by Aussie_family » Sun, 13 Nov 2011 5:26 am

Many thanks for your thoughts - I know it's a few years off but time goes so quickly it will be here before we realise and good to know that schooling won't be an issue if we're still here in 2/3 years. Thanks again. S

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Local Schools

Post by Pinkyp » Fri, 25 Nov 2011 2:22 pm

Hi

Like Aussie_family I am also considering local school for my kids (eldest is currently 3). Could I ask Boffenl and Sundaymorningstaple if you have any names of schools to recommend?

It is good to hear you have had positive experiences.

Thanks.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 25 Nov 2011 2:54 pm

Boffinl will have for sure. My kids have been away from Primary School for so many years that a lot has changed since then....

There are some others on the board who also have their recommendations re: local schools.

sms
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by boffenl » Fri, 25 Nov 2011 4:59 pm

There are some amazing schools doing some really inventive and creative teaching here. Wow--that was really crushy, but true.

Top student this year was from Rulang Primary School. Raffles Girls Primary, St. Hilda's Primary, Anglo-Chinese, Kong Hwa School were all top producers. Three of these I'd never heard of before--just goes to show how much an individual student's emphasis or scholarship can beat any "elite" school. Beside's, the schools all use the same curricula--the same books--and teachers all come from the same school.

It depends on parent involvement and administrative "creative-daring-do". Just visit some schools and you'll know where your child will "fit".

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Post by Cloudy Bay » Tue, 29 Nov 2011 7:01 am

I also really love my child's local school. But I would disagree (in a nice way ;-)) about the schools being kind of the same and that individual effort / scholarship can beat any elite school.

Yes, it is true that Rulang had the top score on the PSLE this year, but that student has mentioned in many interviews, that she was doing regularly outside of school 6-8 hours of preparation a day!!! Plus Rulang if you look at Kiasu's Parents has been over the past few years more consistently sending kids to the top 15 on the PSLE and getting kids over the 275 mark.

The range this year on primary schools and the top scorer's mark for the PSLE starts with a student at Rulang with 283, then a student at ACS at 282 and then a student over at Raffles at 281. Raffles got three students scoring in the top ten for the PSLE and St Hilda's scored three students in the top 15. Both Raffles and St Hilda's consistently get students scoring in the top 15, they have high class averages outside of even their GEP classes. Along with Raffles and St Hilda's then there are other GEP schools plus some of the top local schools, which regularly and consistently deliver amazing results on the PSLE.

To compare the highest PSLE score at Qifa - where the PSLE top scorer came from a few yeas ago was 267. Some where like Paya Lebar had a top scorer at 266.

My point, I think that you do need to do some research. If you are applying for P1 as a foreigner with an employment pass, you will have little choice about the school. It is definitely worth getting your PR before you apply for P1. A great place to read more about local schools is Kiasu Parents. Certainly, when I was trying to enrol my child, I read everything on that site!

Good luck!

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Post by boffenl » Tue, 29 Nov 2011 8:22 am

I'd second Kiasu Parents as an information source--but remember it is geared toward Singaporean parents and their mindset and long term goals can be at odd with what you're trying to achive for your child.

My daughter's school has never had a PSLE top scorer or even one in the top 15 in their 65+ year history--but that's NOT what I'm interested in or want for her. I'd much rather she be in (relatively) smaller class sizes, exposed to different teaching methods, have lots of CCA options and be in a school close to home. The pressure and stress you read about is often top down--from the parents. My daughter brought home amazing results--top of the class in English. This is what I ask of her, with no outside help or extra tuition.

Will I push her to be the top PSLE scorer--no, since I don't expect her to attend university here in Singapore. But that's 8 years down the road. For now, I'm happy she has time to visit the school library three times a week and plays basketball during recess. It's the little things that make me happy!

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Post by Cloudy Bay » Tue, 29 Nov 2011 11:26 pm

Boffenl - how big are the classes where your daughter is at? Just curious.

My child's school is 30 students in P1-3, then for GEP is around 25, otherwise, I think around 40. Actually, I think class sizes are also a thing to consider, if for the OP, you think your child will not do well in large class sizes - then I would rule out a lot of local Singapore school. Though maybe some of the newer primary schools have smaller class sizes? I dont know - so that probably needs checking.

I am not Singaporean, but still I get a lot advice of Kiasu Parents. For me it is have been invaluable thinking through Primary Schools and then understanding how the PSLE and DSA (direct schools admission) work for Secondary School. I would be clueless without that site. Also, whilst I dont post, I read the parents networking site for my child's school at Kiasu Parents and lot of those posts have been insightful.

I agree, I also like the CCAs in Singapore - which for the OP stand for Core Curricular Activities - they kick in - really from P3 though arent compulsory until P4. The nice thing and I dont know, if the same thing operates at other schools is my child had a huge list of CCAs to choose from. A number of the CCA were not directly operated by the school such as sailing. However, what you can do as a parent is sign your child up for for example, sailing as part of their CCAs, the instructor then certifies each week that your child does a certain time doing that CCA and gets passed on that. No more, every one one must do compulsory sports day and a weekly cross country run! Before CCAs, my child really liked the PE activities at school - which my child had some terms three times a week.

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Post by boffenl » Thu, 01 Dec 2011 12:34 pm

It's a good question, and one I should know the answer to...but don't. Her class was larger last year (more cupcakes to bake) but they lost kids to the GEP and a Chinese feeder school (Nan Hua) down the road. I'd say 30 kids. Her register number is 32 but they've lost three kids in her class over the year--and she's the last kid on the roster.

I just read that back--the kids weren't lost, but moved home to Japan, Korea and one migrated to Australia. :)

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Post by Cloudy Bay » Fri, 02 Dec 2011 12:05 am

Thanks. My child was already at a GEP school prior to GEP testing, so whilst some students do leave in P3 as it is non affiliated - others come in.

Some people do argue that local schools are better as they have lower class sizes. I can see that. We have done GEP school all the way, so have rolled with the way the school operates. And as I wrote, I really do like this school.

I think different local schools, float different peoples boats. All depends on the child - what a parent thinks is best fit. For my child this school is a great fit, but maybe for some other children it wouldnt work as well.

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Post by sandste » Sat, 03 Dec 2011 10:00 pm

boffenl wrote:Top student this year was from Rulang Primary School. Raffles Girls Primary, St. Hilda's Primary, Anglo-Chinese, Kong Hwa School were all top producers. Three of these I'd never heard of before
Rulang, St Hilda's and Kong Hwa are very popular schools among the locals. If the information here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_ ... ol_Ranking is correct, I'm doubtful OP would be able to get a place in them.

On a sidenote, I wouldn't choose Rulang or Kong Hwa - too much focus on academics - I reckon that is precisely why they are popular with locals.

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Post by boffenl » Mon, 05 Dec 2011 9:42 am

Poster was just originally asking for popular schools. The fact that the majority of us posting do not choose to send our children to those popular schools is perhaps a sign.

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