Step-by-step guide to enroll your child in an international school in Singapore

K P Sheeja
May 20, 2021
Admission Tips

For families moving to Singapore, the number one worry would be researching and narrowing down on the right school for their children. Every child has a unique educational need and every family has its preferences, but luckily Singapore is an educational hub in Southeast Asia. The choices for schools are plenty, and with a bit of research, expat parents can find the right school for their children. 


Of course there are other rules like immigration paperwork and immunisations to be considered, but that should take secondary priority. Parents would do better if they shortlist on the desired curriculum first before making other arrangements like housing, transportation etc. 


Here is a quick guide to schooling in Singapore: 


1. Shortlist your favourite

Parents can start by listing down the schools which offer the facilities, specialties, curricula, languages and philosophy they are looking for. Singapore has a large number of international schools which cater to the expat community, which means this list will be pretty long. Once the list is in place, it will be easier to narrow down on your chosen school based on other specificities like the child’s educational needs, housing and transportation time.


2. Which schools, Which curricula?

Depending on the age of the child, parents can consider which school they want their child to attend and which curriculum they would prefer.

For Early Childhood years, schools like Eton House, Brighton Montessori, Tanglin Trust and Singapore American provide the necessary infrastructure with curricula choices that include Maria Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Early Years Foundation stage etc.

For Primary and Middle Years, schools like St. Joseph’s Institution, Stamford American, Chatsworth and GIIS provide curricula choices of International Baccalaureate, Cambridge IGCSE and CBSE

For Secondary and High School students, schools like United World College, Canadian International, GESS, French International provide a choice between national curricula and international curricula


3. Which curriculum suits your child best?

Selecting a curricula best suited to your child’s needs is the next important step. There are local international schools like Anglo-Chinese school, Hwa Chong etc who are privately-funded and come under Singapore’s Ministry of Education which impart localised international education. Other schools like Australian International, French International, NPS International have IB and Cambridge curricula with specific language offerings which will suit expats of certain nationalities. Students are able to take the International General Certificate of Secondary Education as well as the IB Diploma. Narrowing down the list as per these criteria provides smoother transition.


4. Budget

Much will also depend on the budget. Most expats have packages which cover schooling for their children. Depending on the package, parents can choose a school which best suits their children’s needs. Each international school has its own  range of school fees that start anywhere from S$15,000 to S$35,000 a year per child. Parents should inquire about the tuition, additional fees, and payment terms to find the best school that fits their budget.


5. Application

Once parents find the right school they should start researching the entry requirements. These vary from school to school, but some elements are common to all schools in Singapore. They are: 

● Visa Requirement: The child should have a valid Dependant Pass, Student Pass or Permanent Residency status. 

● Vaccination Requirement: Since Feb 1, 2019, children aged 12 and below applying to visa requirements above will need to submit proof of vaccination as per Health Promotion Board Requirements 

● Language Requirement: It is prudent to find out if the child needs English Language Programme and/or Bilingual Programme in the curriculum

● Age Requirement: Specific guidelines by schools have been put in place to enrol in certain grades. This may vary depending on the school’s grade system. It is best to check with the school for more information.


6. Enrolment Process

The enrolment process will require a bunch of documents and payments as follows:

 ● Application form (soft copy)

● Non-refundable application fee

● Past and most recent academic transcripts, reports, etc.

● Special education evaluation documents (if applicable)

● Passport size photographs  

● Copy of your child’s passport, birth certificate, and immunisation records

● Copy of each parent’s / legal guardian’s / caregiver’s passport

● Registration Fee payment

Once all these processes are complete, an email from the school will inform the parent on the status of the application. Once the child’s spot is confirmed, a student contract will be in your inbox for your signature. Later, the school admissions team will ask for:

● Dependant’s Pass, Student Pass or NRIC (note: only for Singapore PRs)

● Parent’s or Guardian’s Dependant’s Pass, Employment Pass or NRIC (if you are a Singaporean PR)

The process is convenient and made easier for a working parent. All you need to do is be thorough in your research and paperwork, and prompt in payments. The rest will take care of itself.


K P Sheeja

Is the Academic Supervisor for CBSE at the GIIS SMART Campus. One of the pioneer generation of teachers with GIIS, she comes from a family of educators and has been teaching English to students for the past 25 years. She believes her job as a teacher also includes mentoring and being a friend to her students.

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