Education in Singapore: Expat guide to Schools in Singapore

education in singapore

Education in Singapore: Expat guide to Schools in Singapore


This article is all you need to know about education in Singapore. It can be overwhelming to digest all the information since Singapore has its own education system different from the international worldwide curriculum. 


This article will be broken down into 3 main parts, Education in Singapore, the Curriculum in Singapore and Schools in Singapore. 

Education in Singapore 

The Ministry of Education of Singapore has developed its very own national curriculum. 


In Singapore, compulsory education includes six years of primary school, four years of secondary school, and one to three years of post-secondary school.


Primary education in Singapore is not only compulsory, the government also consider education as a priority in economic development. 


Which is why education in Singapore is highly regarded and highly raved about in other countries. 


Today, Singapore’s education system is considered the best in the world. And this is all thanks to how Singapore has structured their curriculum. 


Curriculum in Singapore 

The curriculum structure that was developed, focuses largely on building strong foundations in specific topics and subjects and problem-solving skills as early as primary school. 


Our mainstream schools use English as the language of classroom instructions.


Here’s how a typical Singaporean student education journey looks like. 

Stages Age Curriculum 
Kindergarten 5 to 6
Primary School

6 years 

Primary 1 to Primary 6

7 to 12 years old  Primary School Curriculum 

Takes National Exams at Primary 6 – Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) 

Secondary School 

4 to 5 years

Secondary 1 to Secondary 4/5


13 to 16/17 years old GCE O-Level Curriculum

Students will be streamed into different streams: Express, Normal Academic and Normal Technical depending on their PSLE score 

  • Takes National Exams at Secondary 4 or Secondary 5
  • Takes either the N or O levels 

International Curriculum 

Students may also enrol themselves into schools like School of the Arts (SOTA) 

View SOTA’s curriculum here.

Post Secondary School 
Junior College 

2 years 

J1 to J2

17/18 to 19/20 years old  GCE A-Level Curriculum

  • Students will have to choose to stream into the Arts or Science stream in their first year. 
  • Students will take National Exams (A-Levels) at the end of their JC years – J2
  • Find out what does H1, H2 and H3 mean in JC

International Baccalaureate (IBDP)

There are certain post-secondary schools that offer Singaporean students to take the IBDP curriculum instead of the GCE A-Levels. 


3 years 

17/18 to 20/21 years old Students complete their three-year course to obtain a diploma. 
University Students complete their course to obtain a degree or bachelors. 


Male Singaporean students will be required to serve the nation for 2 years after completing their A-Levels or Polytechnic years. 


Singaporean students usually complete their post-secondary school education around the age of 20-21. 


Non Singaporeans 

Can non-Singaporeans enrol their child into mainstream schools to study Singapore’s national curriculum? The answer is yes! 


There are some factors to consider before enrolling your child into a mainstream school in Singapore. Read also: Studying in Singapore


Education in Singapore: Schools in Singapore 

Local Schools

Local schools are mainstream schools offered by the government. It follows the Singapore National curriculum.


Families that are staying in Singapore for long term may favour this option. 


However, it can be fairly difficult to enrol your child into a mainstream school in Singapore since the competition is rather fierce. 


Your child will have to compete with Singaporean students and Permanent Residents (PR) as they will be given first priority for admission respectively. 


Hybrid Curriculum Schools

These schools offer two types of curriculum, the Singapore national curriculum and international curriculums. 


Here is a list of Hybrid Curriculum Schools in Singapore


School Location School Fees
German European School Singapore 2 Dairy Farm Ln, Singapore 677621

Nearest MRT Station: Woodlands

Stamford American School 1 Woodleigh Ln, Singapore 357684

Nearest MRT Station: Woodleigh

Australian International School 1 Lor Chuan, Singapore 556818

Nearest MRT Station: 

Lorong Chuan

ACS (Independent) 121 Dover Rd, Singapore 139650

Nearest MRT Station: Dover

SJI International School 490 Thomson Rd, Singapore 298191

Nearest MRT Station: Woodlands 

Hwa Chong International 681 Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 269782 https://www.hcis.edu.sg/assets/Uploads/2019/HCIS-Fees-Structure-2019-2020.pdf

Note that the order of the schools are at random.


ACS (Independent, SJI International School and Hwa Chong International are known as local international schools and accept Singapore citizens after PSLE too.


Singapore local schools that offer international curriculum such as the IB: 

ACS Independent, SOTA, Singapore Sports School


International schools that offer hybrid curriculum other than IGCSE and IB: 

Australian International – hybrid Australian curriculum, 

GESS – hybrid European curriculum, 

SAIS – American and IB curriculums.


International Schools

These schools usually allow students from different diverse backgrounds with no dominant nationality to enrol. 


Curriculums offered by international schools are mainly the International Baccalaureate (IB) and IGCSE. 


These are common curriculums that majority of the students in the world take. 


This would allow easier transition if families are intending to move back to their home country for their child to continue university in their homeland. 


Graduating with these curricula would also allow smoother transition and minimum disruption when moving from countries to countries.


Here’s a list of international schools that you can consider looking into. 

The list provides a link to the school as well as the fee schedule. It will also show the location of the school. 


School Location Price 
Tanglin Trust School 95 Portsdown Rd, Singapore 139299

Nearest MRT Station: 

Buona Vista

Dover Court International School  301 Dover Rd, Singapore 139644

Nearest MRT Station: 


Canadian International School Singapore 371 Tanjong Katong Rd, Singapore 437128

Nearest MRT Station:

Dhoby Ghaut

GEMS World Academy (Singapore) 2 Yishun Street 42, Singapore 768039

Nearest MRT Station:


United World College of South East Asia 1207 Dover Rd, Singapore 139654

Nearest MRT Station: 



Note that the order of the schools is at random. 


These are the few well known international schools in Singapore. There are, of course, so many international schools in Singapore. You will definitely be able to find the perfect fit for your child! 


Choosing the Right School for your child in Singapore 


Here are some points you can consider before picking the right school for your child in Singapore. 


1 – The Curriculum 

2 – School Fees

3 – School’s Environment, Culture and Values

4 – Subjects Offers

5 – Location of the School and Transportation Options

6 – School Facilities and Extracurricular Activities Offered


Transitioning To the Education in Singapore

If your child is transitioning from previous international curriculum to the Singapore national curriculum, it could be a different jump. 


Tutopiya offers transitioning lesson packages for students looking to enrol into Singapore mainstream schools smoother. 


Tutopiya also offers online learning tuition for the international curriculum! 


Sign up with Tutopiya to enjoy a free 30 minutes online learning experience today! 


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