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Experience of ISS, Chatsworth (Orchard), Nexus?

Discuss various schooling options for your children here.
Veronica VanE
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Experience of ISS, Chatsworth (Orchard), Nexus?

Postby Veronica VanE » Thu, 01 Dec 2011 10:11 pm

We are considering a move to Singapore next year. We have a daughter, aged 11 and a son aged 9 - apparently they would be Grades 7 and 5 respectively, at time of move. Both are attending independent (feepaying) selective schools in the UK. Our daughter attends a large girls secondary school with 120 in her year group (20 girls in each of 6 classes). Our son is in a boys school with 18 in each class but only 2 classes in his year. Both thrive in those environments. I would guess our daughter would be happy in a small school but our son would not do well in a very large school.

My husband is presently visiting the schools listed in the title as will I in the next few months. And of course we have looked at the websites. However it would be very useful if you were able to offer your personal opinion of any of these schools if you have/have had children there. Having done some research on this forum already I get the impression that ISS is good. There is little information on Chatsworth. There are negative references to Nexus (NIIS) - we have been told that there is "no waiting list because there is new ownership". I understand that the present school is on the site of the old Excelsior School but the negative refs (some dated summer this year) still refer to it by the old name even though it was "taken over" in 2007.

Would I be correct in thinking that Nexus/NIIS is a rebranding and that there has not been an overhaul of staff etc? Has anyone got anything good to say about this school?

Please forgive the length of this post - I simply thought that if you knew something of where we are coming from it would inform your responses.

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Postby Makingthemove » Tue, 06 Mar 2012 11:27 pm

Refreshing this one: Veronica, how did you get on with all of this? Undergoing same considerations with several Singapore schools. What did you decide on in the end? Any help in unpicking the minutae of it all would be gratefully received.

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Postby scarbowl » Wed, 07 Mar 2012 4:31 pm

Actually, Nexus is new this year. Emaar became Excelsior became Nexus. But Nexus has NO relationship to its predecessors. This school is now owned by Taylor's Education Group which operates schools in Malaysia including Sri Garden International School and the Australian International School in Kuala Lumpur. So don't exclude them due to Emaar and Excelsior.

It's a very pleasant campus and worth a visit.

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Postby Veronica VanE » Mon, 16 Apr 2012 5:23 am

Have just returned from a two week reconnoitre of schools (and accommodation)!

We have two children – by the time they start school in August they will be 12 and 10, entering Grades 5 and 7 respectively. They presently attend single sex private/independent schools: they are good all rounders (academically) and relatively sporty. Although we are from the UK we do not know where we will end up and so want the children to have internationally recognised qualifications. (International Baccalaureate (IB) is course (as opposed to exam) based. IGSE has exams.) We have visited 3 schools – each has a slightly different application procedure/fees which I won’t detail here.

1. ISS – IB only - very small campus near Orchard MRT – 500 kids – 3 class entry – 18-20 per class. Sports facilities off site.

2. Chatsworth Orchard – IB/IGSE – larger campus near Somerset MRT – 700 kids – 3 class entry – 20 per class. Sports facilities off site.

3. Nexus International School (formerly Excelsior and Emaar) – IB/IGSE – very large campus near Dover MRT – 2 class entry – 25 max per class – max student population 1200 HOWEVER…. At the moment there are 400 kids and each class has about 12-15 kids. Sports facilities onsite – 2 indoor sports halls, outdoor fields, 2 pools.

As some of you may know Nexus has had a chequered history. It simply was not very good. It was bought by a construction (!) company and changed its name (essentially a rebranding). The turning point came when, in January 2011, the headmaster from the very successful Chatsworth Orchard came in to turn it around. He has focussed on employing more staff and establishing a schedule of Continuing Professional Development for the teaching staff. There is also a focus not only on teaching but how children learn (and a new staff post to deal with that). They are also addressing the quality of the student population and attempting to ensure that the kids who are there really want to be there.

A few months ago Taylor Group bought Nexus. The present headmaster will be moving on at the end of this academic year. This concerned my husband and me and we had a long interview with the headmaster this week. He has assured us that his position was never supposed to be long term and that he is happy that Nexus is now in the place it should now be in order to move on effectively. The new head will be Stuart Martin, the present headmaster of the Malaysian Nexus School. Taylor Group is a widely respected company specialising in education. As a matter of interest this was the only school where we met all the relevant heads - i.e. the heads of Middle and Primary School plus the Principal. It is also the only one of the three that assessed the children for more than just English Language – nothing very vigorous – a bit of Maths and English.

For our particular children we have chosen Nexus and Chatsworth would have been second choice. I found the staff I met at all 3 schools very pleasant. There doesn’t seem to be the Waiting List issue that there used to be. There were spaces in the grades we wanted in all three schools.
I hope this has been helpful – I get the impression that (some of ) the vets on this board roll their eyes a bit when the question of International Schools comes up and tend to refer newbies to previous threads but, as you can see, things change ….

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Postby scarbowl » Mon, 16 Apr 2012 2:30 pm

We also visited and found the campus to be quite pleasant if underutilized. The grounds feel secluded from the city (the property sits above the surrounding roads), the classrooms are clustered around an open area to allow multiple groups to work together, and the facilities are generally in good condition. The only "oddity" is that there are only about 1/2 the number of students the building can accommodate.

As far as we could determine, and consistent with your statements, there is no connection between Nexus and the former Emaar/Excelesior.

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Postby Veronica VanE » Tue, 17 Apr 2012 3:54 am

I am guessing that Nexus is presently about a third of its full capacity of students because it simply was not very good. I have every confidence that the new school will benefit from such experienced leadership. In the meantime our children will benefit from the smaller class sizes!

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Postby JR8 » Tue, 17 Apr 2012 4:25 am

Veronica VanE wrote:I hope this has been helpful – I get the impression that (some of ) the vets on this board roll their eyes a bit when the question of International Schools comes up and tend to refer newbies to previous threads but, as you can see, things change ….


Some oldsters can be a little jaundiced of answering the same question for the 100th time for people who can't think or be bothered to use the Search button. Yes, that's true :)

However your post is current direct anecdotes and is incredibly useful. No one is going to 'roll their eyes' at that...

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Postby x9200 » Tue, 17 Apr 2012 11:48 am

As JR8 said. Quality and up-to-date information is always in demand and you made a nice effort to summarize a number of things. Something like this is always appreciated.

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Postby Makingthemove » Tue, 17 Apr 2012 12:43 pm

Veronica we went for Dover Court in the end, loved your reply though. Ever thought of being a schools consultant?

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Postby mrs.r » Tue, 17 Apr 2012 8:05 pm

Hi Veronica VanE

Thank you for such a useful post.

My daughters are much younger, 5 & 1, the eldest attends a single sex, independent school, she has only been there for 2 years but is thriving in the environment.
Have either of your children attended co-ed schools in the past? I wonder how my little one will adapt to so many changes, for now, she is very keen and excited about our upcoming adventure.

I am travelling out to Singapore next week to get a feel for the place, view schools and apartment. I have been offered a place at Dover Court but I think I will contact Nexus and have a look around.
Were there any apartments near by that you liked the look of?

Sorry for all the questions!
Thanks again.
Mrs.r

Veronica VanE
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Hello mrs r

Postby Veronica VanE » Thu, 19 Apr 2012 4:08 pm

1. Co-ed issue:Both my children have attended co-ed in the past and loved it. The only reason they are attending single sex at the moment is because of the lack of choice in this part of London. (Don't get me started on that.) I am told that girls "do better" in a single sex environment but I personally think that co-ed is more "normal" (unless your daughters plan to be nuns). I suppose the fear is that having boys around may be distracting and girls will spend their time making sure their hair looks nice and stuff like that. I think though that the girls in co-ed schools do not set boys on a pedestal so much because they spend their time sitting next to them in class and - how can I put this delicately - experience their - um - charming little personal habits - no offence you guys out there - I'm sure you have grown out of them by now. Anyway - your lovelies are VERY young and I don't think they will suffer from that particular issue. Moreover as you have only girls you may consider a co-ed environment quite a useful exposure to the other gender.

2. Accommodation - we visited the Rochester (by Buona Vista MRT) and it was very nice. Only a few months old. The issue with Singapore apartments is not the floor space but the wall space: They seem to have fitted cupboards and ceiling to floor windows so you only have access to 2 walls for extra storage/shelving or any other furniture.

Auntie V

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Hello Veronica VanE

Postby mrs.r » Wed, 25 Apr 2012 6:22 pm

Nuns, I hope not :-)

Similar situation in our area with good school, my daughters school felt right for her and it meant that there was no need for a long bus journey at such a young age.

My 5 year old and I are heading out to Sing tomorrow for a week. We are visiting various schools and looking at apartments.
We are visiting Dover Court, Chatsworth, Nexus and OFS. I will post my personal opinion on schools and apartments when we get back.

Toodle pip
Mrs.r

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Postby welshfowlers » Thu, 26 Apr 2012 7:17 pm

Please let us know how you get on am planning a trip to review schools next month

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Postby alleycat » Tue, 04 Sep 2012 9:19 pm

Verinica, did you end up signing your kids to Nexus? And if yes, what is your impression and what are your thoughts about the school.
I went there in May and was impressed.

Veronica VanE
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Postby Veronica VanE » Sun, 10 Mar 2013 4:30 pm

Hi alleycat - I haven't been on this board for months but am flagging it so I can talk up Nexus because I really think it is FAB! My kids don't see all the cogs and wheels (the leadership working SO HARD to make everything better - especially in Middle/Senior School) - all they know is they have a great time in a lovely environment and they "cannot wait until Monday"

We live quite a long way away (about an hour door to door) but I make a point of going in a couple of days a week volunteering – it is such fun to see the tiny little Kindergarteners alongside the towering young men and women who are reaching the pinnacle of their school career. I also enjoy talking with the staff and teachers - there is an Open Door policy and there is a real sense of excitement about the place.

The best bit for me is that the Parent Group Room is about to be renovated which will be lovely for all the parents. It is quite tricky when you are new to both the school and Singapore but the Parent Group is very friendly and welcoming.

Hope this is helpful


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