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Singapore schools - Dover Court, Dulwich, Tanglin???

(42 Posts)
magicreality Wed 23-Sep-15 22:06:12

Moving out to Singapore with 6yo and 3yo and going round in circles with schools. Would really appreciate a frank list of pros and cons of Dover Court, Dulwich and Tanglin from those in the know! I know we may not have the luxury of choice (all three currently have waiting lists for one or both of our children), but I don't want to make a mistake and feel like we've gone for the wrong school.

6yo currently goes to an outstanding state primary school in the UK. We love the fact that it's a down to earth, friendly and inclusive school, with great teaching which stretches and motivates both the most and least able (my DC has had experience of both, being a top performer in some subject areas, and distinctly average in others - the school has done an amazing job at bringing him on in the areas where he is weaker). Would ideally like a school in Singapore which has the same characteristics - i.e. can stretch and challenge children, but not a hot-house / pressured environment. Decent outdoor space and sporting opportunities would also be a plus.

Dover Court instinctively seems to tick most of these boxes for us, but would really like to have a better understanding of what others thing are the good / not so good points of all the schools we're considering. Everyone seems to say Tanglin is amazing, but I can't get a good sense of why this is. And it seems like the shiny new facilities / Mandarin focus are a big selling point for Dulwich, but I don't have a sense beyond this of what the teaching / atmosphere / pastoral care at the school is really like. A little concerned that the sheer size of both schools could be a little overwhelming for small DC.

I'm unlikely to get a chance to do a recce before we have to opt for one school or another, so trying to glean as much advice as possible online first!

feckityfeck Thu 24-Sep-15 06:13:05

I'm not in Singapore yet, not moving until next summer, but we are going for a recce and I have appointments to view these three schools a week on Monday, so I'll let you know what I think! I have a 6 and 4 year old.

Also interested to hear from those that know the schools.

magicreality Thu 24-Sep-15 07:19:19

Enjoy your trip feckityfeck. Would be great to hear what you think when you get back!

fatowl Thu 24-Sep-15 08:13:05

I'm not in Singapore but I do know the schools in the region through work.

Do you have places at Tanglin, or is your company offering a debenture? If not the choice there might be taken from you.
It's a not for profit trust, which is very well established and regarded in the region.

Dover Court used to be the go-to school for the "small caring school" feel, but it has recently been taken over by the massive Nord Anglia group, I'm not sure what changes will have been put in place.

Dulwich- the new school on the block. Don't set too much store in the Dulwich name, it is really just a franchise. It's becoming a very popular choice, esp with families who would have chosen Tanglin if places were available.

Personally I don't think you would go far wrong with any of the three, palces are tight in Singapore and you may have to go with where you can get a place.
If I was moving to Singapore, my first choice would be UWC, but my kids are secondary age

magicreality Thu 24-Sep-15 22:18:45

Thanks fatowl - that's helpful.

Tanglin is an option for us, but we only want to go for it if it's the right school for our DC. I know that it's well regarded, but I'm not clear why.

Definitely not drawn to Dulwich by the name - much more important for me what the school actually feels like / quality of teaching and pastoral care etc.

Can I ask why UWC would be your first choice? At the moment we're mostly focused on "English curriculum" schools, so hadn't considered it.

fatowl Fri 25-Sep-15 00:14:18

If you have the places at Tanglin, that's what I would go for in your position.

It's well established, has very high quality staff ( I know, we are competing for the same staff!) and an excellent level of teaching and learning. It's also not for profit, and I still struggle a bit with schools as a business. Facilities are good and it is the traditional centre of the British expat community.
There are some truly lovely people there (as well as some nightmares- but that is true of any school)

I would go for UWC for my Y9 daughter if we were moving there, as it is rated consistently outstanding, and there are fantastic opportunites for students at upper secondary level, using their network of colleges worldwide.
My older two (one now at Uni, and one doing A-levels this year) were both UK curriculum tot he end, and it's fine, but I've always been impressed with anyone I've met from UWC.

Pupsiecola Fri 25-Sep-15 09:10:58

I would go for Tanglin too. Personally I would never, ever send my children to another 'for profit' school.

LadyShirazz Fri 25-Sep-15 09:22:12

Oooh I went to Tanglin (family expats too) so quite excited to see this thread!

It was a lovely school - academic, diverse (not just British kids) and fun.

When we returned to the UK, I was way ahead of my peers academically, but don't remember ever being hot housed - only happy memories of excellent teachers and learning being fun. Lots of extra curriculars and trips etc as well.

As it happens, as an adult I was visiting Singapore and stopped by - the head heard me chatting to the receptionist and invited me in for coffee and a chat. It was lovely.

No experience of the other schools, but highly recommended from my child's point of view (was there afe 5 - 10).

LadyShirazz Fri 25-Sep-15 09:25:30

Sorry that probably doesn't help all that much as my time there was twenty years ago but didn’t want to read and run.

Laptopwieldingharpy Fri 25-Sep-15 10:07:07

Tanglin is a notch above the other too really. Our son left after year 2 and was prepared to get offers from the most competitive schools in HK.
UWC is great the for IB diploma & one of a few schools worldwide that delivers a quality IB middle school program too.

Laptopwieldingharpy Fri 25-Sep-15 10:10:10

Without any doubt, these 2 have some of the best faculty and admin in Asia. And very happy children and parents too. strong parent/teacher relationships & decent boards too.

magicreality Fri 25-Sep-15 13:42:37

It sounds like Tanglin is popular for a reason! I had initially assumed we wouldn't stand a chance because of the waiting lists, but we've been told we can get our youngest into the pre-school, which would then give our eldest sibling priority (which would likely give him a place a term or two in). So not ideal, as I would rather not have to have move schools a couple of terms in (and there's still a degree of uncertainty). But if it's as amazing as it sounds (and I also prefer the idea of a not for profit school), perhaps it would be worth the initial disruption. Hmm.

To be honest, if any one of the three schools were able to offer both our DC a place upon arrival in Singapore, we would go with that. But that doesn't seem to be on the cards right now. Which is making the decision-making so much more difficult!

Will look into UWC as well.

Thank you for all the advice - really helps to hear from those who have seen and used the schools!

georginab Wed 30-Sep-15 01:40:27


I have been in Singapore for 2.5 yrs now. My son has attended Dover Court all of this time and recently my daughter has joined reception.

We love it! Can't say a bad word. Such a lovely setting, lots of greenery and land around for the children to do sport and play in.
It's true that the recent takeover of Nord Anglia has brought more students to the school- but this has also given us investment into new facilities, equipment, technology etc so all positive.

The teachers are fab and the school is very committed to keeping parents involved- plenty of regular opportunities to come and learn about the curriculum, the way the children learn to read and write, do maths etc.

The recent development of the DCA parents committee is also very exciting for future events and activities too.

At the end of the day- I have not heard a bad word against Tanglin, dulwich or UWC either. But you won't regret choosing Dover Court.

Feel free to message me if you want more info.


MyFriendsCallMeOh Wed 30-Sep-15 22:37:29

We were at Dover court from 2008 to 2013 (nursery to year 3 for one and a year in nursery for the other dd). I can't explain how much of an impression this school made on us. We loved the inclusive atmosphere, a really caring place, truly international and nurturing. Our dcs didn't need 300 seat theaters and climbing walls at that age, they needed inspirational and caring attitudes to learning. We knew we were moving from Singapore before dd2 started in nursery but we so wanted her to experience the school that we moved her there just for her nursery year.

S999 Thu 01-Oct-15 13:17:29

More than 50 children came from Dover and a very good many from Tanglin to Dulwich last year...and they were willing to take a bet on a brand new school. From what I gather, it's paid off for all of them.
Some of us did not take places at Tanglin in favour of Dulwich so I think it's very much a debate that Tanglin is better than the other two.

Laptopwieldingharpy Thu 01-Oct-15 15:20:42

I think tts & uwc differ from the rest because that is where most of the expat establishment have their kids.
That is PRs, returning expats, dual citizen singaporeans etc...
they are useful networking ground if that matters

Lolimax Thu 01-Oct-15 15:32:24

Op I'm no help to you whatsoever but wanted to say I went to Weyhill in the 70's that eventually became Tanglin...and in danger of outing myself my dad taught in UWC (and the schools it was previously). Just thought I'd share that nugget with you....

magicreality Sat 03-Oct-15 09:05:17

Haven't checked in for a few days, so just catching up on messages. Really helpful to have views from those with first-hand experience of the schools. Ultimately I'm not sure we will have much of a choice, and it will come down to which school can offer both our boys places to start as soon as we move. So it's really reassuring to hear positive views about all three schools!

Laptopwieldingharpy Sat 03-Oct-15 10:01:10

All 3 schools are really well regarded, you'll be fine.

feckityfeck Mon 05-Oct-15 10:57:30

Hello magic, just checking after looking round all 3 schools today. I'm not sure how much help I can be as we've been to look round condos afterwards and I feel like I've already forgotten so much about the schools! We went to see Tanglin first, then Dover, then Dulwich. I'll say upfront that we liked all 3 schools, and would be perfectly happy to have the dc at any of them.

Impressions of Tanglin are somewhat coloured by it being the first we saw. It seemed so huge compared to my dc's current school, which is a single entry primary, and I got a bit upset when I realised that my dcs would spend the entire school day without seeing each other. But that's no different at either of the other schools, even at Dover, which is smaller. All three schools separate Reception - year 2 from years 3-6.

The facilities were amazing at Tanglin, obviously. One highlight was the gymnastics gym Both dds are seriously into gymnastics (as much as they can be at 7 and 5!) and the gym was kitted out more extensively than the specialised one they attend in the UK. However, only dd1 will get actual lessons there, dd2 can use it in the out of school club.

Dover had a strange mix of a generally more relaxed environment, but the admissions person showing us round was really quite intense and evangelical about the new head. She had children at the school too and had a lot to say as a parent about the good things the new head was doing and his impressive background, although also talked about all the coaching and observations he is doing with the staff, which made me feel the teachers must be under a lot of pressure at the moment.

We came away from Dover thinking we really liked it, but that it would be silly not to try for Tanglin. At the moment it seems like it might be touch and go whether we'd get dd1 in for when we move, but she would have sibling priority once dd2 had been there for a term. Which makes it all more complicated.

So, we went to Dulwich thinking there was very little point even seeing it as both Tanglin and Dover are so much more convenient for where DH would be working, and they were both great. But, I just loved it. Yes, the facilities are incredible, brand new, super shiny, but I was so surprised at the feel of the place, so much more friendly and welcoming than I was expecting. The only, single, tiny, downside I found was when we went into a year 1 lesson and I noticed how different the girls' and boys' uniform was. Girls were in a green checked dress and the boys in a red t-shirt and black shorts, it really made a distinct separation between the two groups. It's less different in the higher years when at least they have the same shirt, but even then there was absolutely no question of the girls wearing shorts. So I bristled a bit at that, but was soothed later on when I found out the four houses are named after two men and two women (Amelia Earhart and Lee Choo Neo) smile

So, a bit of a splurge there, I'll add any other thoughts if I remember anything else!

Emmadufo Tue 06-Oct-15 13:09:55

Hi All, I have a question on this theme. My son is currently in Year 1 in the UK and it looks like we will be moving to Singapore in the next couple of months but the schools we are interested in have huge waiting lists for this year, Dover Court is our favourite at this stage. Does anyone have any advice on appropriate options/kindergartens that could effectively accommodate him and keep him up to speed before starting in year 2 on a British based curriculum? Many Thanks

FreddoFrog Tue 06-Oct-15 15:20:46

Magic, just another voice concurring that you can't go wrong with any of these three schools. My two (ages 3 & 5) are at Dover Court and have settled in very well there, very happy. The school has a lovely feel, the head is very welcoming and has a very strong background as an educator. Both my two have lovely teachers who put in an incredible amount of effort and the school runs many workshops on how they are teaching the kids to read, do maths etc. Wonderful community, we're very happy there.

All the best for your move, we've been here two months and have found it fairly straightforward (no one mention the haze grin).

magicreality Thu 08-Oct-15 07:41:32

feckity - sounds like you had a busy time in Singapore! Thanks for reporting back - really useful. Interesting point about the pressure teachers might be under at Dover with the new system - I did wonder whether that might be the case. And great to have some more impressions of Dulwich. Because it's so new, I've otherwise found it quite hard to work out what it might be like.

Freddo - good to have another positive view of Dover. Still quite torn between Dover and Dulwich, but I think ultimately it will come down to which is able to offer us places. Glad you're enjoying life in Singapore - preparing to go is starting to take over our lives, so it will be a relief to step off the plane in a few months time and get on with settling in. Hopefully the haze will have gone by then wink .

Emmadufo - I don't have any answers, but there is a possibility that we will be looking at the doing the same if we don't get any immediate places. I am almost assuming we will have to do this for our 3yo, but obviously that's a bit different to looking for a temporary place for a Yr 2 child. Would be interested in knowing what options you come up with (sounds like we will be heading to Singapore a few months after you).

FJaggar Fri 13-May-16 12:06:59

Hi Magicreality, I came across this thread and wanted to get in touch about your move to Singapore. How did it go? Did you get your kids into any of the three schools? We are moving to Singapore in two months (we only found out yesterday) and I am having similar worries that you had last year. All three schools have waiting lists so I was wondering if you managed to get your kids in and how you went about it? Any advice would be much appreciated.

feckity Sat 14-May-16 15:18:26

Hi FJaggar, I can't really answer your questions, but I wanted to say hello because I'm moving to Singapore in a couple of months too smile

It's funny seeing my old posts on this thread. Unlike you, we had a huge amount of notice that we were going to be moving, so it feels like I've been banging on about it on these boards forever.

My dc are going to Dulwich, but because we knew ages ago we were able to start the process of applying back in October and it was quite straightforward luckily. Have the schools given you any idea where you are on the waiting lists?

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