How to choose Schools for your Child? | Expats in Singapore | Local or International School?

Education | Educational institutes in my city | Lifestyle
by Bienu 30 September 2020

Local vis-à-vis International School for expats!

Expats parents are in a constant dilemma regarding choosing a school for their children while in Singapore – Local or International? As school education in Singapore produces top scorers in the PISA test, and are quite rigorous in math and science, they also merit choice of expats. The medium of instruction is English, which is another big deciding factor in favour of local schools. But it is not easy as it looks to be, especially for expats.


While choosing favour of any particular school, besides finances as International schools could be expensive as compared to locals, it is important to consider other factors also. These could be the child’s future goals, what career he wishes to opt for, his interests, temperament, strengths and weakness for particular subjects.

Future Goals

Many parents want children to pursue a particular line of education without taking into consideration their abilities to take it up. This creates conflict and child finds himself unable to adjust. Local and International both have their own merits in terms of their teaching style, course curriculum, school environment and pattern of examination.

Creatively Inspired

In international schools, students are usually encouraged to be more creative, constantly question what they learn, and learn through research. They follow a stress-free pattern of teaching which is more of logic & creativity inspired. Subjects like languages, history, environment are being laid equal emphasis. Whereas student of local schools top international ranking tests in maths, science and reading, but this methodology promotes formulaic thinking where students are encouraged to memorise and follow model answers. On the other hand, it encourages self-discipline and a strong work ethic, which works well for self-directed learners who thrive on competition.

School Atmosphere

Local schools provide a more conducive atmosphere for students to integrate into Singapore society, as they forge close ties with their local schoolmates and celebrate local holidays and festivals together. So as expat parent if you want your child to have a better sense of belonging to Singapore, local schools are best.

Expatriate parents who want their child to feel a greater sense of belonging in Singapore may thus find local schools to be the superior option. International school students may find it more difficult to integrate into local society.

Whereas in international schools as students change schools to follow expatriate parents to different countries, which could adversely affect the bond between students. Though they can develop an international network of students.


Finally, it is the curriculum which presents a stark contrast between the two. Local schools are easy on their creative and holistic approach to a child’s education. Here students are encouraged to take on the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) whereas other streams are not prioritised. Schools’ emphasis is on subjects that are easier to score good grades in, leaving subjects like art, history and literature by the wayside.

International schools provide greater opportunity for students to pursue a wider range of interests and take up extracurricular activities and subjects that may not be offered in local schools such as drama or visual arts. Here the students are encouraged to learn at their own pace and to let their curiosity inspire their learning.

Finally, it is the affordability which is the most influencing deciding factor as an International school may cost you around    $35,000 annually, whereas local schools may cost much less.

Ultimately, the best choice of school is dependent on the child and his or her goals for the future.

Relocate to USA

education costs
expats in Singapore
international schools
local schools
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