International School in Singapore


Our Admissions experts love questions! Each year we receive over 3000 enquiries from parents asking about international schools in Singapore. Our experts reviewed the common questions we receive from parents and created a parents guide to choosing an international school in Singapore.


You can book a personalised school tour, online meeting or attend a virtual Open House and ask all your questions about education in Singapore, international schools, IB schools in Singapore and how to apply to international schools in Singapore.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL IN SINGAPORE: EXPAT PARENTS GUIDE

Each family has a unique set of questions to ask international schools in Singapore. Choosing the best international school for your family is a very personal choice. Remember you are the expert of your child and family. Write a list of what is important for your family. This could be languages, sports, arts or teaching style. Ask these questions when you enquire with the international school and also during the international school tour in Singapore.

Having said this, there are a common set of questions that parents and we have compiled the most common questions with answers from our international school experts. If you can't find the answer, please contact our Admissions experts. We are happy to help!

What is in an international school in Singapore?

There are two types of international schools in Singapore: International schools that offer an international curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Singapore international schools that offer the Singapore Ministry of Education approved curriculum. International schools that offer a purely international curriculum are only permitted to enrol foreign students.


What curriculum do international schools in Singapore teach?

The majority of international primary schools in Singapore teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum with a smaller number of schools offering the British curriculum, American curriculum, CBSE Indian curriculum or national curricula such as German, French, Dutch or Swiss government curricula.

For international secondary schools, the majority of schools offer the British curriculum leading to the IGCSE exam certification. GESS is one of the few international schools in Singapore that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum in both Preschool, Primary and Secondary.

In High School, the last two years of school in Singapore, most schools teach the International Baccalaureate or IB Diploma. This internationally recognised qualification opens the door to the world’s top universities.


How much does an international school in Singapore cost?

School fees for international schools in Singapore range from 20000 SGD to 55000 SGD per year. For international schools offering a full programme and world class facilities, the average cost is 35000 SGD to 48000 SGD.

At GESS, we offer a full school programme including state of the art facilities with an average ongoing annual cost of 35856 SGD. Our students enjoy facilities such as an Olympic size covered swimming pool, indoor sports hall, fully equipped science and design labs and a library with over 40000 books.

International school Singapore cost

Parents should be aware of additional costs added to the total school fees charged by Singapore international schools. Remember to compare schools on the total fees charged per first year of enrolment and not just the published tuition fees.

Is studying in Singapore expensive?

If you are moving from a country where school fees are free, then of course international schools in Singapore are expensive. However, when balanced against very low income taxes and the world class facilities that international schools in Singapore offer, it can be argued that school fees are reasonable. Ultimately, what makes life expensive in Singapore is whether you choose to buy a car and eat at expat orientated restaurants or choose to take public transport and eat local food.


Can foreigners go to local schools in Singapore?

It is increasingly difficult for foreigners on a Dependant’s pass or Student’s pass to go to a local MOE (Ministry of Education) school in Singapore. International students need to take entrance exams as part of the AEIS process (Admissions Exercise for International Students) and spaces are very limited. Students need to have a fluent level of written and spoken English as well as a high-level understanding of mathematics.

Do Singapore international schools offer scholarships?

Very few international schools in Singapore offer scholarships. Some schools give scholarships for sports or for students with exceptional talents.


What are the international school fees in Singapore?

School fees vary from each school but can broadly categorised into two sections. International schools that focus on offering world class facilities such as swimming pools, science labs, sports halls and international schools that offer basic facilities. All international schools in Singapore offer a quality education experience.

In addition to the core curriculum, Singapore international schools offer extra-curricula programmes. At GESS, talented students in engineering can take part in the Junior Engineering Academy. The GESS Centre for Excellence supports our talented and high-potential students, offering additional tuition, opportunities and experiences in their talent area.


What is the best international school in Singapore?

Each family has their own definition of what is “best”. At GESS, we accept students of all talents both academic and non-academic. Choosing the best international school purely by exam results is no guarantee that your child will be happy or progress at that school. It is important that families choose a school that matches their expectations and values. Choosing the best international school in Singapore based on attributes that are not applicable to your child or family will lead to a challenging school experience.

How to choose a Singapore international school?

There is no one way to go about researching and choosing an international school in Singapore. Creating your family’s shortlist will depend on factors such as:

  • Budget
  • Languages
  • Children’s hobbies, interests and talents
  • Special education needs
  • Location
  • Values and ethos
  • Education approach

Try to rank what is most important for your family and do not focus too much on the curriculum offered unless you would like your child to study in a non-English national curriculum such as the French, Dutch or German national curriculum.

All English medium international schools in Singapore offer a quality education and will lead to globally accepted exam results. Singapore international schools are accredited by a number of international organisations for example the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) or Council of International Schools (CIS). Check with the school in Singapore to see what accreditations they have. At GESS, we are accredited by the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organisation, Council of International Schools (CIS) and also the German government as we also offer the German curriculum.

Often school choice in the full-service international school section is based on languages offered. Languages are a core part of an expat family and choosing a school that supports mother tongue languages allows for an expat family to remain connected to home. Mother tongue languages also help expat families moving back to their home country and reintegrating into the local school system.


Can Singaporeans go to an international school in Singapore?

Singaporeans cannot go to an international school without MOE (Ministry of Education) permission. Singaporean students with a foreign parent or returning Singaporeans may be eligible to study at an international school in Singapore. Families must first apply to the international school and then submit the required documents to the school who will then seek permission from MOE (Ministry of Education).


International school fees in Singapore 2020

For most Singapore international schools, school fees increase on an annual basis. In 2020 the average first year school fee is 43947 SGD per student including entrance and confirmation fees. 2020 international school fees depend on the age of the student. Normally, the primary section in an international school has lower fees than the higher grades. The highest international school fees in Singapore 2020 is 54520 SGD per year including application and enrolment fees.

Singapore International school fees 2021 will be set by most schools by April 2021. At GESS, school fees 2021 will decided by the GESS Association of parents in December.

Singapore school international students

Expats in Singapore come from all around the world and it is common for Singapore international schools to have students from over 50 nationalities. At GESS we currently have 67 nationalities represented amongst our students.

Singapore school international student’s pass

For international students coming to Singapore to study without their parents, most Singapore international schools can apply for a Student’s pass. The Student’s pass (STP) is issued by the Immigration Checkpoint Authority (ICA). It is a Singapore government requirement that international school students have a minimum 90% attendance at all times.

For parents that would like to accompany their child, one parent or grandparent can apply for Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) with a local Singaporean or Singapore PR sponsor.

Students who are staying with their parents in Singapore can also apply for a Student's pass. Whilst most expat families and children staying in Singapore will obtain a Dependent's pass (DP) connected to one of the parent's Employment pass (EP), step-children or children not legally adopted by the parent holding the Employment pass (EP), will not be eligible for a Dependent's pass. A Student's pass is a solution for children who will be studying full-time in Singapore.

How can I apply for student pass in Singapore?

Once your child has been accepted by the international school in Singapore, the student's pass application can start. The international school will create an application on the Immigration Checkpoint Authorities (ICA) SOLAR+ application portal. Using the login details provided by the international school, login to the ICA SOLAR+ portal and complete the application form and pay the application fee. You will also have to upload requested documents which can vary slightly for each applicant. Remember all documents must be legally translated into English and notarised.

ICA will then review the Student's pass application and this can take 2-8 weeks. A Student's pass application can only by submitted by the international school in Singapore 2 months before the student's start date.

If the Student's pass application is approved, you will receive a notification. You must then login to SOLAR+ and pay the issuance fee and download and print the forms and In Principle Approval letter (IPA). Read the IPA letter carefully, there are important dates at the top of the letter which state the validity of the IPA letter and the deadline for completing in person registration and starting at the Singapore international school. In the IPA letter you can also find out how long the Student's pass is valid for, usually 2 years. Your child can get enter Singapore with an IPA letter. Print out the IPA letter as you may be required to show it to airline staff and immigration officials.

The final step is completing the in person registration at the ICA office in Singapore. Please note that children aged 16 and above may be required to go for a medical check in Singapore and get a medical certificate. If this is required, it will be stated in the IPA letter.


How long does it take to get student pass in Singapore?

For most Student's pass applications in Singapore, it takes 2-3 weeks. For more complicated cases or cases where a student was previously a Singapore citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident (PR), it can take much longer.

It is possible to renew a Student's pass in Singapore. The renewal usually takes 5 days.


International school Singapore list

There are 60 international schools in Singapore and counting! The number grows each year.

It can be overwhelming for expat families in Singapore to choose an international school and it is recommended to discuss as a family first what kind of school and what programmes or languages are the most important to help you create a shortlist.

Although it is possible to visit 3 or 4 schools in Singapore in one day, it is recommended to spread out international school tours over 2 or 3 days, if possible. Prepare your question list beforehand and take notes during the visit so you do not forget key information.

International school Singapore list 2020

  • GESS International school
  • Stamford American International school
  • Australian International school
  • Canadian International school
  • GEMS
  • Nexus
  • Tanglin Trust school
  • United World College
  • Singapore American school
  • Brighton College
  • Hollandse school
  • Swiss school in Singapore
  • Singapore Korean International school
  • Chatsworth international school
  • International School Singapore
  • Perse school
  • EtonHouse
  • Middleton school
  • Dulwich College
  • French school of Singapore
  • Global Indian International school
  • Invictus
  • Overseas Family school
  • St Joseph’s International school
  • St Francis’ international school
  • Waseda Shibuya
  • One World International school
  • Anglo-Chinese International school
  • Hwa Chong International school
  • The Grange institution
  • Dover Court International school
  • DPS International school
  • International Community school
  • GIG International school
  • Melbourne Specialist international school
  • Furen International school
  • San Yu Adventist school
  • Dimensions International College
  • Olympiad International school
  • Hillside World Academy
  • The Winstedt school
  • NPS International school
  • Insworld Institute
  • Kindle Kids International school
  • Yuvabharathi International School
  • North London Collegiate school
  • Razum International school
  • Integrated International school
  • Rosemount International School
  • Sir Manasseh Meyer International School

international school singapore ranking

There are many expat magazines and websites with Singapore international school rankings or best international schools in Singapore lists. There is no official ranking list of international schools in Singapore. As a family looking for an international school in Singapore, the most important area to check is if the school is inspected and registered with the CPE (Committee for Private Education) and is accredited by international organisations such as the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO).

What's the best international school in Singapore or the top ranked international school? This will be different for each family and student as well as their child's interests, languages and future plans. A good start would be to ask friends in Singapore or if you are new to the island, ask colleagues in the office in Singapore for recommendations.


International School Singapore IB Diploma Results

How important are IB Diploma results when choosing an international school in Singapore? It depends on firstly how old your child is. Choosing an international Preschool or Primary school based on IB Diploma results of students aged 17-18 years old would not be the most relevant approach. For Preschool, the educational approach is far more importance. For Primary and even Middle school, if academic results is an important factor for your family, checking international benchmark tests such as ISA (International Schools' Assessment) would give you a clearer idea of the international school students' academic achievements.


For older students, IB Diploma could be a factor in choosing a Singapore international school. Remember there are two types of international schools: selective and non-selective. A selective international school will choose only the top percentage of student applicants for their IB Diploma programme. A non-selective international school will accept all students that meet the entry requirements of the IB Diploma programme. Automatically, a selective international school will therefore achieve higher average IB Diploma results.

Which approach is best for my child? It really depends on your child's personality, attitude and future plans. A highly competitive and academically driven student may thrive in the competitive environment of a selective school. An academically minded student that does not enjoy the competitiveness of a selective school, might prefer to study at a non-selective school. For students with a passion for arts or sports, look for Singapore international schools that specialise in these programmes.

We have a detailed guide for you to find the right Singapore International School for your child, you can find it here! We recommend reading this guide so that you can learn everything about International Schools in Singapore!

There is no right or wrong answer or approach in choosing an IB Diploma school. Do your research, speak to schools and international school students and choose a Singapore international school where your child will be comfortable and most importantly enjoy their final years of school.