Are high international school fees stressing you out, mama? Here’s a list of budget school options in Singapore
With international school fees on the rise (many upwards of $40,000 per year) and a limited number of spots available for expat kids in local primary schools, parents in Singapore can often feel the financial pinch, particularly if you’ve got more than one child!
If you’re feeling frustrated by your options or unsure of what to do, an enterprising group of parents have formed the Facebook group Singapore Expat Schooling Forum to cover the full range of schooling options for kids in Singapore. Here you’ll find candid discussions about schools around the island, along with an in-depth look at the distinction between different types of student passes and school requirements. Read on for their comprehensive guide to lower cost international schools in Singapore.
Read more: Alternative schools in Singapore
Some key terms to bear in mind (along with their educational implications):
EduTrust: A quality assurance scheme administered by the Committee for Private Education (CPE) in Singapore to distinguish private schools that “consistently maintain a high standard of quality in the overall provision of education services and make continual improvements that lead to positive outcomes”. Read more about EduTrust certification criteria here.
Cambridge curriculum: Many of the schools listed below employ the Cambridge International Curriculum, which is recognised by universities and employers worldwide, and is followed by over 10,000 schools in 160 countries. Part of what makes it so popular is its international philosophy and approach that can be tailored to local contexts.
DP (Dependant Pass): The pass issued to the dependants (spouse and child) of an Employment Pass or S work pass holder earning over 6,000 SGD monthly. Children on DP may attend any Private Educational Institution of their family’s choice and will not require the sponsorship of a student pass.
LTVP (Long Term Visitor Pass): A pass issued to children of Permanent Residents and the step-children of Employment Pass holders. To attend school beyond preschool, children on a LTVP must enroll in a private educational institution that can sponsor a Student Pass. Please verify with your school of choice if they can sponsor a student pass if your child holds a LTVP.
SP (Student Pass): A visa sponsored for a student who is attending a private educational institution (international school), that holds EduTrust status. Some larger international schools, such as Singapore American School and Lycée Français, are exempt from the EduTrust certification. Student passes are designed for foreign students who come to Singapore (alone or with a guardian) to study, but who are not necessarily accompanied by a working adult.
SC (Singapore Citizen): Singapore citizens are required by the Compulsory Education Act to attend local primary school and will require special permission from the government to attend a Private Educational Institution (international school).
PR (Permanent Resident): Children who are permanent residents (PR) are eligible to enroll in local school and will be granted a spot. PR children are given preference of school choice behind Singapore Citizen children. PR children may also attend a private educational institution and do not require a student pass to attend any school.
Tourist Visa: A Tourist visa (sometimes referred to as a short term visit pass) is issued to tourists in Singapore for leisure. A child on a tourist visa will require a long term pass (for example, student pass) to attend school full time. Alternatively, they can be issued a dependant pass if they are eligible.
In all cases, the immigration status of the child decides the rules of enrollment — NOT the immigration status of their parent.
Fees listed are for grade 1 and exclude uniforms, transport, exams and ad-hoc fees. As this is only a guide, be sure to check and confirm fees and whether fees are inclusive or exclusive of GST (7%).
Schools denoted with an asterisk (*) can sponsor a student pass, important for children holding a LTVP.
You can also consider international schools that bill monthly. One World International School is one that we know of, which can make things a bit easier on the budget. It’s always worth at least asking if monthly billing is an option.
Catering to students from Grades 1 to 12, TLS Academy is a private learning school with an individualized, student-centered approach to learning. The Bible-based, American curriculum from Accelerated Christian Ministries, ACE School of Tomorrow, is holistic in style with an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills and building character. Through mastery-based learning, students master each fundamental tool at their own pace before proceeding on to new material, in the process building confidence as they gain an understanding of sequential foundational skills.
Fees are $12,960, paid in 6 installments.
5 Steps Academy*
Location: Orchard/Dhoby Ghaut
Thi is an EduTrust certified school that operates a self developed curriculum for grades 1 to 10 School hours are 10 am to 2 pm for Primary students. Headmaster is Dr. Alex Kuznetsov, a Russian mathematician (read more about him here!).
Fees start at $18,000 per year for Year 1.
Offers Cambridge exam preparation courses for primary and secondary school. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees for the Primary 1 program are $15,100 annually.
Location: Jurong and Ang Mo Kio
Offers exam preparation courses for GCE N/O/A levels for secondary school — but is not recognized as an official school by Cambridge.org. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees for A-Level exam prep course are $6,602.
Offers exam preparation courses for IPC curriculum exams, grades P3-6, and additional exam prep courses for secondary. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees for their P3 program are $17,794.10, paid in a single installment.
Locations: Kovan, Bukit Timah and River Valley
An EduTrust certified school that runs courses for Cambridge primary school assessment exams from P1 through secondary school. Marketing itself as Dimensions International School or “Dimensions High School”, they operate in a former MOE campus in Kovan. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees start at $17,355 per year for Year 1.
This school prepares children for Indian School Certificate exams and offers Cambridge options for secondary as well. Offers kindergarten, primary and secondary options.
Fees start at $15,007 per year for Year 1 ($3,959 per term/3 terms, plus fees of $2,203 per term), plus $2,000 registration fee.
A private education institution offering courses to prepare students for Cambridge exams for grades 1-8. They offer a wide range of ECA/CCA activities within school hours.
Fees start at $12,840 per year for Year 1 (paid bimonthly), plus a $2,140 application fee not inclusive of bus, camps, exams and uniforms.
Global Indian International School (GIIS)*
GIIS offers a curriculum to prepare children for the Indian Central Board School Exam as well as Cambridge exams. The school has kindergarten, primary and secondary options. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees start at approximately $16,808 per year for Year 1 ($5,603 per term/3 terms, plus $2,946 application fee), not inclusive of bus, camps, exams and uniforms.
Location: Yio Chu Kang
Newly opened in 2018 in Yio Chu Kang, this school with British and Australian faculty offers a Cambridge primary education for grades 1-6.
Fees start at $19,809 in three payments inclusive of GST, plus a $2,996 enrollment fee.
Happy Family School of Excellence (HFSE)
Location: Upper Thomson
This half-day school (4 hours) for grades 1 to 4 earned CPE certification in 2018. HFSE uses a self-developed curriculum that includes Singapore English and Math, Science, Values Education/Christian Living, and the foreign language taught is Tagalog (the most common language in the Philippines).
Fees are $8,070, paid in 10 installments.
Heritage Learning Centre*
This self-directed learning school uses a Biblical based, A.C.E. School of Tomorrow – Evangelical Christian curriculum. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees are $8,100 annually, paid in 6 installments.
Location: Beach Road/Suntec
Offers exam preparation courses for GCSE N/O/A levels for secondary school — but is not recognized as an official school by Cambridge.org. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees for A-Level exam prep course are 15,000.
Location: Dempsey Hill
This international school on Dempsey Hill opened in August 2016 and offers an IPC curriculum. Currently offer grades 1-6.
Fees include a $2,700 registration and assessment fee, annual tuition fee of $18,190 (paid over 5 installments), plus fees for extracurricular events, books, IT fee, field trips (0-$6,000).
This school teaches a self developed, “Cambridge inspired” curriculum and offers a “Kindle Kids certificate.” Opened March 2018. Licensed to teach grade 1.
Fees: $1,605 registration fee, annual tuition fee $10,272 (paid over 12 installments).
Lodestar Montessori School
This mixed aged Montessori school, with AMI certified teachers, is for students in Grade 1 to Grade 6.
Fees: $500 registration fee, plus annual tuition fee of $18,000 (+GST), paid over 6 installments, plus fees for extracurricular events.
Lotus Bridge International School
Location: Jalan Besar (Jurong scheduled to open in 2020)
Newly certified in 2019, Lotus Bridge teaches to the Cambridge Curriculum for Primary grades 1-6, and then offers IGCSE certification for grades 7 through 10. The school year runs from August through July.
Fees: $3,000-$3,490 per term. for primary; $5,330 per term for secondary
Lycée Français de Singapour (The French School of Singapore)*
Location: Serangoon Gardens
LFS has lowered rates for the 2018-2019 terms, with a single fee for all nationalities. Offers kindergarten, primary and secondary options. Can sponsor students on LTVP for student pass.
Fees: Classic section (French) $17,880; English section $19,270, plus $5350 registration fee first year; $1605 re-enrollment fee subsequent years. Canteen fees mandatory but not included in rates stated.
Offers Cambridge certificate preparation courses for secondary school students to take O and A-level exams. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees: For budget purposes the fees are $10,491 annually. Local student rates are $8,864 for 10-month program and $13,987 for 16 months.
Middleton International School
Locations: Upper Bukit Timah and Tampines
With locations in Upper Bukit Timah and Tampines, this lower cost international school operated by EtonHouse offers a self developed curriculum that is Cambridge inspired, but not recognized. Currently offer grades 1- 5.
Fees are $19,375 paid in 4 installments, plus miscellaneous fees.
Olympiad International School
Location: Paya Lebar
Currently offering grades 1 to 3 (with a new older grade added each year), this new international school employs the popular International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme. The school calendar runs from January through November.
Fees: $8400 annually, plus a monthly $100 lunch fee and $1600 in one-time fees (although the $1000 registration fee is currently being waived)
One World International School, Nanyang Campus (Jurong)
With a brand new campus, this school offers an inquiry led IB curriculum with offerings for kindergarten, primary and secondary students.
Fees start at $18,480 SGD a year for grade 1 (plus application fee of $1,088).
The Open Primary
Location: All over the island
This is a network that creates and matches private classes of 6-9 Singapore resident primary level international students with ex-MOE teachers of a Singapore curriculum in a dedicated class centre (options islandwide), with access to recreational courts. Classes commenced in January 2017.
Fees start from $7,000 SGD/annually.
Location: Marina Square
Offers Cambridge certificate preparation courses for secondary school students to take O- and A-Level exams. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees are $9,630 annually.
San Yun Adventist School
Follows a direct instruction method using Singapore local school textbooks and a self developed curriculum and daily religious instruction in the 7th Day Adventist faith. Currently offer primary and secondary grades. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees: In 2018, primary school fees for international students are $14,090 (plus a $650 registration fee) for the first year.
This is a school licensed by CPE to prepare students ages 6 to 17 for the AEIS exam for 6-month terms starting in 2018. The license is valid for 1 year.
Fees are $600/month ($7,200 annual) plus fees of $1,200 for registration, books and uniforms.
SST International Academy*
Location: Little India
Offers Cambridge certificate preparation courses for primary and secondary. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees: for budget purposes, are $15,400 annually for Primary 1 to 3.
St Francis Methodist School
Location: Upper Bukit Timah
This is a private primary and secondary school with the same syllabus as local schools that offers a variety of diplomas relating to Cambridge and Australian curricula, as well as the IBDP in the senior years. As of 2019 they also offer a primary school option.
Fees: From $12,203 for Primary and $19,527.50 for Secondary 1, plus miscellaneous fees.
Location: Middle Road
This school offers Cambridge exam prep courses for secondary school age students to take GCE O-levels.
Fees for local students are $6,500 per year, but do not include exam fees.
Touchstone International Institute*
Location: River Valley
Offers Cambridge exam prep courses for secondary school age students to take GCE O-levels. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees are $14,810 per year.
Victory Life Christian School
This self-directed learning school uses the biblical based, A.C.E. School of Tomorrow – Evangelical Christian curriculum.
Fees are $8,400 for a year term, paid monthly, plus a first time registration of $2,350.
Waldorf Steiner School
This school for grades 1-8 utilizes the Waldorf education philosophy (creative play through arts and nature) and offers lots of outdoor time, small class sizes, and teachers who stay with the same class for multiple years to foster a close, trusting relationship. Waldorf Singapore also offers early years programs and playgroups.
Fees are $12,000 a year, paid monthly.
Yuva Bharati International*
This school’s curriculum prepares students for Indian Central Board exams. Offers kindergarten, primary and secondary grades. EduTrust certified for students on LTVP.
Fees are approximately $8,040 per for Year 1 (split in 6 payments), plus registration fee of $2,500.