How are schools helping families through the pandemic?

30th July 2020 by Gracie Stewart 3 Min ReadFrom ensuring home-based learning matches the quality of education delivered in the classroom, to managing the financial impacts of the outbreak, SHINHE CHO, Digital Marketing Manager at International Community School Singapore, shares some of the ways the school is helping families through the pandemic.Tuition freezeSingapore is among the 10 most expensive countries in the world for an international education. So, it’s no great surprise that COVID-19 has brought about financial difficulties for many families. However, while school fees still need to be paid, there’s some good news for parents; many international schools are looking to freeze tuition fees for the 2020-21 academic year.At ICS Singapore, the Board of Directors has voted to freeze tuition at the current rate as a way to help support families during this difficult time. This means the current published fees will remain the same for the next school year.As a registered charity, ICS operates solely on tuition and donations. All profit is placed into financial reserves at the end of each school year to be reinvested directly into the school and children’s learning. The decision to not increase tuition for the upcoming  year means ICS will use its financial reserves to cover the difference between the originally planned 3% increase and the actual 0% increase in fees. Staff wearing masks, ready to welcome students backOnline learning hubSince the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown measures (including the Circuit Breaker here in Singapore), schools around the world have been rolling out online learning. This has allowed students to continue their studies without interruption. While home-based learning can’t substitute entirely for classroom learning, according to former Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, “it’s important that schools blend the two, so they can harness the best of both worlds in a modern education system”.As a result, ICS Singapore has introduced an Online Learning Hub to keep the community connected and engaged. The idea is to promote continuous learning whether at school or at home. The Online Learning Hub provides useful tips, resource recommendations, health and wellness advice, online learning expectations and more, and is a one-stop shop for students’ continuous learning. The school has also introduced an #OnlineLearningWins hashtag across its social media accounts as a way to promote positive home-based learning. Socially distanced desksNew health and safety protocolsThere’s plenty for children to look forward to when they return after the summer break; catching up with friends, for starters! However, not everything will remain the same. Schools wil be looking to introduce a “new normal”. This means finding ways to reopen without putting pupils, teachers and their families at risk.ICS has been working hard to get the campus ready to resume face-to-face learning on 12 August. The team says that they’re committed to providing the safest possible environment for children to learn in. To this end, they’ve implemented all of the protocols and procedures the Singapore government has mandated on campus. This includes evaluating changes in the following areas:Operations: How children access campus, the bus service, drop-off and pick-up, and use of the canteen, gym and playground.Scheduling: Safe distancing of students in hallways, staggered bell schedules, and altered recess and lunch times.Teaching and learning: Distanced desks in classrooms, equipment wiped down between classes, wearing masks, no mixing of small groups, and assigned seating and collaboration work.Social-emotional: Individual counselling available, and K-12 in-class presentations by counsellors about safe behaviours and safe classrooms.Find out more about ICS and contact the school at

New campus for Nexus international School

20th March 2020 by Expat Living 2 Min ReadRelocating is hard work – and most of us have only had to move from home to home. Imagine moving an entire school! JUDY COOPER, principal of Nexus International School (Singapore), has done just that. We caught up with her for a peep at the new campus.Congratulations on the move – the school looks amazing! What’s your favourite thing about it so far?We love our new school; it’s so hard for me to decide which part I love the most. I do enjoy spending time in our Eco Café, as it gives me time to catch up with parents and staff over a cup of coffee. I also enjoy sneaking down to our Nursery and Kindergarten to spend time with our cute littlest learners. It’s so beautiful there and the children are always having so much fun! This has been a big move from Ulu Pandan to the East. What was the decision behind it?We rented our Ulu Pandan campus with the view to build our own school, and Aljunied is where we were awarded the land. Some of our Nexus families have moved over to the East and we’re loving the buzz of discovering a new area. For our families that have decided to stay near Ulu Pandan, the bus journey is only 20 minutes, so it’s very accessible.How did you keep the school community informed about the move?We’ve kept our parents aware of our move since we were awarded the land in 2016. Our families have been supportive and we’ve held several parent evenings to update them of the developments. In November last year, we invited families in for a sneak peek of the school, and all the children visited their learning spaces before the move to make sure that everyone felt comfortable. We have followed up with a variety of orientation activities to help the children feel secure in their new surroundings.How long did the migration to the new campus take?We moved our belongings in just before Christmas and had an extra week to unpack and prepare the learning spaces for the children – our staff did an incredible job!Tell us a bit about the journey, from planning to completion.We began preparations in 2016. The really hard work began six months ago as we began organising the logistics of having a working school with children. We had to coordinate how cars and buses handled morning drop-off and pick-up. We had to think about inter-school sports fixtures and ECA logistics and security. It’s been challenging, but incredibly rewarding.This has been a once-in-a-lifetime project and one of our proudest moments to date! We’re all settling in nicely and loving our new home!The new Nexus International School (Singapore) campus is at 1 Aljunied Walk.There is an Open Day on 25 April; register for it on the school website.6536 6566 |

International School Scholarships in Singapore

22nd January 2020 by Kate Marsden 3 Min ReadInternational school fees in Singapore are high and not affordable for many, but there is the option of international school scholarships. Some schools offer both full and partial scholarships, especially for academically gifted children. We had a chat with a student who has been through the process of applying for an international school scholarship and was successful.Shravana is a Year 12 student at Dover Court International School (DCIS) and the recipient of a partial international scholarship for the school’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Here, Shravana tells us what it was like starting at DCIS in Year 12 on the IB scholarship programme, and why she decided to apply for it.What prompted you to apply for the scholarship in the first place?I was drawn to the idea of doing the IB, but that meant going to a school where the fees were high. I wanted to help ease the financial burden on my parents somehow and so decided to work towards earning a partial international school scholarship to do the IB Diploma at DCIS.What was the application process like and what do you think the school looks for in its scholarship candidates?The process of applying for the scholarship was an incredibly reflective one. The school wanted to know who I am as a person and I felt they wanted to gauge my resilience. As well as looking at my grades and talents, they wanted to know how I was going to make an impact on the DCIS community.These questions helped me to reflect on how I could make a difference in the school. This has not only helped land me a scholarship but also made my school journey more fulfilling as I know exactly what I want out to get out of it, both academically and personally. I feel like the school is looking for students who are able to be independent. They need to see that we can help ourselves when it comes to reaching our goals. Ultimately, they want to see genuineness and optimism as well as a passion to learn and grow.What was it like to join a new school for year 12?When I first walked into the school, I was greeted by smiling faces. The staff and students guided me and welcomed me into the community. Once I’d started school, I was excited to get to know all these new people! Just as I had expected from my first impression, everyone is incredibly kind and helpful. The face of the DCIS IB Scholarship Programme!The IB is known to be very challenging. How are you finding it so far?The IB encourages independence, and at DCIS the teachers guide you to be the best independent self you can be. They effectively do this by giving you an equal amount of freedom and support. The IBDP may be challenging, but with the right environment, like the one I’m getting at DCIS, I believe I can stretch myself to my maximum potential while having fun and making the best of my school life.What do you enjoy most outside the classroom?DCIS has a myriad of opportunities in various disciplines. Personally, I’ve taken up a few of the leadership opportunities. I feel that they have helped me mature in the way I communicate my ideas and collaborate with people. One of the things I love about my school is that the teachers are always ready to listen to our suggestions. They try to accommodate changes if we can justify them.If this sounds like something that your child might be interested in learning more about, applications for the 2020-2022 International Baccalaureate Programme scholarship at Dover Court International School are now open. Successful partial scholarship recipients will have their tuition fee discounted by up to 50% for the duration of the course.Dover Court International School 301 Dover Road139644, | +65 6775 7664Need some more help with schools?Budgeting for School FeesInclusive Education at Dover Court International School

A new play-based, inquiry-led preschool

5th December 2019 by Kate Marsden 3 Min ReadThere’s been a shift in early childhood education in the last few years. Children are now being encouraged to play for as long as possible during the earliest years of education. If this child-centred model of learning appeals to you, it’s becoming easier to find play-based preschools in Singapore. At One World International School (OWIS), they’ve gone a step further and coupled play-based learning with an inquiry-led approach. We asked MICHELLE DICKINSON, Head of School, for some more information about this and what the benefits are for our kids.How does the new campus accommodate a play-based approach?We nurture an inquiry-led, play-based learning environment with dynamic indoor and outdoor spaces. These spaces are specially designed for young children to encourage learning through discovery, exploration and play. Our new campus is located in the East Coast and dedicated to early childhood education. Here we continue to offer children our Early Years programme, underpinned by the National Curriculum of England and Wales. The programme is specifically designed for three-to-six-year-olds and our rooms are set up to encourage a ‘free-flow’ of students.What’s the difference between play-based and inquiry-led learning?These are two different approaches to learning that complement each other well. With the inquiry-led approach, students are encouraged to drive their own learning by posing questions, testing their ideas and exploring outcomes. This allows them to come to conclusions on their own and fosters an independent attitude to learning. A play-based approach allows students to inquire through well designed structured play. This is a particularly powerful and dynamic way of learning in the early childhood years.These approaches also nurture our values of kindness and compassion, where children are free to be curious and courageous explorers. We put an emphasis on providing a kindness-driven learning space where our students grow into globally-minded citizens who embrace acceptance and diversity. A play-based inquiry-led approach sets your little learners up for life!How do the two approaches work together?The complementary mix of inquiry and play motivates children to learn through exploring their individual interests and passions. It develops each child’s all-round education, including social skills, emotional resilience and academic concepts and understanding. Our students have the chance to practise real-world skills like conversation, conflict resolution and teamwork in a safe and secure environment; this enables them to engage in the inquiry-led approach as they become confident at asking questions and exploring possible answers and outcomes. This self-directed discovery and curiosity builds motivation and develops student-led enquiry and life-long learning.How do these approaches benefit my child?Research consistently backs up the positive emotional and educational outcomes resulting from a play-based learning programme. At OWIS, your child will acquire real-life social skills, develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills, and build body strength. We provide a safe place where, through self-esteem and confidence, students learn to take measured risks to reach their full potential.If you’re hoping to enrol your child in the IB, these skills lay the foundation for the Primary Years Programme – the Early Years of the IB – which seek to develop the child as an inquirer both inside and outside the classroom. The Early Years programme builds a strong foundation of learning for your child that will benefit them wherever they go to school.If you’re looking for a play-based preschool in Singapore, visit the new OWIS Mountbatten Campus to see the benefits of this approach in action. Schedule in a time today.One World International School Block G, 231 Mountbatten Road6914 6700 | owis.orgSee more in our Schools section:International schools in Singapore: HUGE GUIDEHow to choose an international school

The IB diploma: What you need to know

We all want the best education for our kids, right? Depending on the academic programmes available in your home country, the IB Diploma (aka the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme!) might be a new option on the table for you. This globally recognised course has become increasingly popular with schools and students in Singapore for its well-rounded scope of study, interlinked subject curriculum, independent research and self-directed learning. To help you and your child make the best decision, we take a look at the nitty-gritty of the different stages of the course. Before you start…Before opting for IB diploma studies, you need to choose your subjects. As a first step, it’s best for you and your child to consider how the IB diploma will work for their interests, skill set and future ambitions. To help decide, sit down together and identify their future study plans, career desires and any subjects they currently enjoy or excel in. It’s also worth chatting about which subjects work well together and which might stretch them – this will help when it comes to decide on Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL) sections. You should also consider the differences, if any, between the IB diploma and the type of curriculum your child has studied before. And it helps to be clear on the kind of knowledge they’re expected to have on board before commencing the IB diploma course. One major difference is CAS, the IB’s unique compulsory extra-curricular requirement. Students must undertake Creativity, Action and Service throughout the diploma. These are activities that can involve arts and creative subjects, something physical, or a voluntary, unpaid placement.  IB diploma students also have to take a broad range of subjects, so it’s important to understand the requirements and what your child needs in order to pass. (The IB’s failing conditions are infamous for catching a small number of students each year!) IB diploma: The first yearThere’s lots of learning to be done in Year One! Mastering the required knowledge across all six major academic subjects, as well as planning for the Extended Essay (EE), getting to grips with Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and managing time with CAS combine to make it a very busy year. Students will also need to begin thinking a bit harder about their future study and work plans, as well as their key areas of interest as they prepare to go into the second year of the IB diploma. Although the first year IB diploma exams are internal and don’t contribute to your child’s final scores, they’re still very important as schools use them to set predicted grades. What’s more, they help students to assess their progress and make the best use of the break between the first and second year to consolidate their learning. IB diploma: The second yearThroughout the second year, students work towards their final exams, which contribute heavily towards the final points score. Your child will need to finalise any internally assessed work, their EE and any other course demands efficiently to give them as much time as possible to focus on finishing learning their course material and beginning to revise. There’s lots of time-juggling involved again, as students will also start applying to their chosen universities! Again, narrowing down key areas of interest for further study will be needed here.   Help is at hand!As you can see, the IB diploma is a demanding yet rewarding course with many requirements. Time management and organisation will be important for your child, as will their ability to prioritise and navigate all the new responsibilities. If you have some doubt, or you feel your child will need additional support, there are professional Singapore-based IB diploma tutors that can help. This assistance can range from pre-IB prep, to one-on-one bespoke support with subject selection and combinations through to a fuller pre-IB preparatory course.Discover Elite IBElite IB is one company that comes well recommended. Their tutoring team is made up of exceptional International Baccalaureate diploma graduates and experienced International Baccalaureate diploma teachers who can support students throughout the whole IB programme. During the first year, Elite IB’s team can help with your child’s subjects, internal assessments, coursework or the EE. Their Easter IB1 course preps ambitious students for the first round of internal exams, while the mid-IB course is perfectly timed to consolidate and firm up the first year’s learning, preparing you and your child for the challenges of the second year. For those all-important final exams, Elite IB’s flagship Easter IB2 revision course has successfully prepared hundreds of students annually to sit their final tests.Elite IB also assists with university choices – from application advice to ongoing career guidance. Their specialist areas are the UK (UCAS, Medicine, Oxbridge), the US and the Netherlands, although they can provide solid advice for those wishing to apply to universities elsewhere, too. They even run a mock interview course to prepare students for Oxbridge interviews! Above all, when it comes to the International Baccalaureate, don’t be afraid to ask for help so that you and your child can make the most of this exciting, challenging programme.Written in collaboration with: Elite IB9099 1775 | eliteib.sgRead more in our Schools section:Best school facilities and programmes Top international schools in Singapore