UWCSEA Singapore(35 Posts)
We are seriously contemplating a move to Singapore as dh has been offered a really great package with his current company, running things out of Singapore. DH had a look around and really liked UWCSEA for ds, who is currently year 6.
Our dilemma is that ds is quite academic and sitting the 11+ for selective Indie schools (Latymer Upper, KCS) in London. He also has some mild SEN (joint hyper mobility) so we are bearing this in mind when looking for next schools for him. Ds is very into art and drama and will be applying for scholarships in both. Dh's job opportunity is totally out of the blue but as I said it's a great package in terms of accommodation/school fees/maid/bills all paid. On the other hand ds has been preparing for the 11+ for a long time and if he gets in then based purely on academics, the London day schools get pretty great results. The other thing we like is the level and understanding of SEN in the London schools we're looking at as well as the standard of art and drama.
BUT... the money and the lifestyle benefits are really tempting. I have arthritis and the climate would be great for me and for ds it would mean access to a swimming pool in our accommodation which would be great as daily swimming would really help with his joint pain.
Sorry for the incredibly rambling post - getting to the point now! So my question is - does anyone know what art and drama are like at UWCSEA? Also anyone with experience of their SEN provision? Very confused and could do with some advice!
Thanks so much in advance!
It is a great school but it's just not comparable to top uk schools.
Art and drama are good but it is just simply not the same exposure as living in London.
However he will certainly benefit from being thrown into the melting pot that UWCSEA is. Living overseas is a fantastic experience at that age. You can always consider boarding after a couple of years.
SEN provisions are frankly not great in Asia but at that age, if you already have received guidance from an OT, you should be able to work out a plan with the school?
Worth doing a tour of tanglin trust too
One of the best schools in Singapore for SEN is Dover Court. It’s also part of Nord Angelia, which has partnerships with Juilliard for their arts program.
We left Singapore (and Dover Court) 4 years ago, it wasn’t very academic beyond primary school (which was just fantastic) but it’s gone though many changes since then. I would advise you to take a look and see out some current parents with children with similar profiles to yours.
Btw when we were in Singapore, UWC has an 8 year waiting list and was the top school in Singapore .... I guess that’s changed.
Thanks all for the responses -
Bradley - dh has spoken to friends with kids there and they didn't think Dover Court would be suitably academic, all said good things re primary though! Re UWC yes they seem to have changed the system - dh had a look around and they gave dh the impression that admission really shouldn't be an issue.
Laptop - we are going to try and get a look at Tanglin but dh didn't manage it on his last trip so it will probably have to wait until after we get to Singapore. A couple of things put me off though and I'd love to be corrected if I'm wrong as the academic results are on a par with UK indies. First off, I've heard there's quite a waitlist and dh's company won't pay for us to jump the queue. Also, dh has a friend whose kids are at UWC and he said Tanglin was great for academics but he thought UWC would be a better more well-rounded environment for ds. It's all hard to tell without seeing the schools.
I'd also heard Dulwich College may be worth a look but it's relatively new so it's hard to tell if it is anything like Dulwich College UK (which we love and which ds is sitting the 11+ for too).
Any views greatly appreciated. At the moment the 2 years at UWC and then back to the UK sounds like possibly the best option although I'm loathe to make ds sit the 11+ now and then have to sit CE again in two years when he comes back to the UK! Such a lot to think about...
Thanks again for all your feedback!
Tanglin and Dulwich both offer British Curriculum so if you are wanting to keep him in the same system, they are great choices. My friend's four children are at UWC and they love it, but it is an IB school, if I'm not mistaken. There are long waiting lists at Tanglin and UWC - not sure about Dulwich, but it is already developing an excellent reputation.
Dover Court is known for being great at supporting SEN, but not as an 'academic' school. The Juilliard program offers certain curriculum resources and access to visitors who are alumni, but the others all have comparably very good music curriculum provision.
Singapore is a great city and definitely 'Asia lite' - very expensive, but clean with English widely spoken.
I used to work in this school op, in an arts subject. I think it's an amazing place for students but I don't know much about London day schools to compare . Feel free to pm if you want to know more about the school though
Thanks tinypop4 have pm'd you with a ton of questions - any advice gratefully received!
The schools in Singapore are good, Tanglin and UWC and Dulwich are all good with different flavours of good. My eldest goes to DC in the UK which is all boys whereas Singapore schools are mixed. Hate to state the bleeding obvious but it can matter quite a bit if you have your son sitting for 11+ at DC.
I didn't know hypermobility was a SEN. A little puzzled on that front and you might find Singapore less accommodating to non-standard SEN. Do the due diligence carefully.
As for academic school in U.K. Vs lifestyle in singapore I would plump for Singapore if you are not working. Your son can be allowed to roam Singapore in a way that just isn't possible in London. My kids can't be bothered to go out that much but there they are free to do so unlike here. Plus there is a superb airport and flights to the rest of asia to see and experience life easily. Things that are not available here...
A school fees/housing/maid offer is worth a fortune though and should sway you quite a bit. What's the housing budget? Prices appear to be stable or falling for rental right now with lots of empty units so don't be afraid to bargain. Plenty of great places to live in Singapore but some you need to have a car for. Consider a lease car as it reduces the COE/ARF hit to your savings.
Most importantly have YOU been? We did a sighting trip a couple of years ago and loved the place but the work hours are a killer so we have stayed a split family (local contract for us so harder to pull kids out of world class schools here for uncertainty there).
Given the marketing these schools are doing I think they over expanded to serve a family expat market that has shrunk dramatically. You'll get a spot. Oh, but check the application fees for the schools. They are eye watering as they want to anchor you to their school. Going to one and then shifting is a pricey decision.
Other points that occur to me are to try to see different areas initially and then at different times of day. Lots of places look great at the start but you need to think what you will do to go to the store for food. We have a place in Holland village so a 24 hour a day Cold Storage is a short stool away but if you go to Keppel Bay you are stuck.
Join the expat wives of Singapore Facebook group. They won't let me in (clearly!) but it has helped my wife and is a good source of people selling stuff as they move out. We have got some nice things that way and will pass them on when we leave the same way.
Oh and if you feel the schools are insufficiently academic you can do what the locals do and get a tutor or two or three each week. Plus violin, art class, drama, football, rugby, swimming lessons and much more to squeeze in.
Oh sorry op I had missed your message but see it now. I'll reply later today!
Wisedad thanks for that incredibly detailed post. It's very helpful indeed. Ds is actually dyspraxic as well as having JHS, but I mentioned the joint stuff because that's what causes the pain and what easy access to a pool will help massively with! I've been to Singapore but not with a view to moving there - it was about 5 years ago and yes it was nice, but I wasn't looking at it as a place to live so I really need to take a proper look. Housing budget is 10k a month (rent) and bills paid on top so pretty decent I think as there's just the three of us. Would love to hear your thoughts on Tanglin and Dulwich - I was told that Tanglin was a bit dare I say it 'stuffier' than UWC - dh certainly got that impression from friends but we haven't seen it. We've seen Dulwich UK (ds was/is planning to apply for 11+) and really like the feel of it, but not sure how Dulwich Singapore compares, they don't put the results on their website, just a general results list for Dulwich International which covers the Chinese/Korean schools too. Would love to hear your thoughts though.
Tinypop no worries, as I said, any feedback gratefully received!
The big decision is surely whether you go with IB curriculum at UWC or other school, or British curriculum at Tanglin or Dulwich etc. They are quite different. And obviously that has implications if you think DS might go back to school in the UK in the future.
Tanglin is definitely less diverse if not predominantly "white" and British. Don't get me wrong it is an inclusive school but it can feel a bit more cliquey.
The mindset at UWCSEA is different as they have a higher proportion of long term residents and that includes a bigger proportion of Asian kids with US passport. Affluent, educated, high achieving professional parents with their eyes turned towards the US and top tier US universities.
They just have more cliques
Ahha. Dyspraxia. We know that one, if you see what I mean. Swimming is good or that. You can find a swimming tutor who will visit your condo which helps enormously. My 6 year old daughter learned to swim from one to one lessons when she was four and I benefited enormously as well.
Dulwich College Spingapore won't have any results yet as the senior school has only just opened. When I was last there it was a building site. I can't say much more as my kids don't go to school in Singapore but my son's French tutor in Singapore says UWC academic standard is much higher than DCS.
The trouble is parents with kids in Tanglin or DCS won't criticise their school as it makes their choice look bad so you need to consider this in feedback you get.
As for property hunting 10k is a good budget to start with with paid AC bills is a dream! Get the Property Guru app which will allow you to have a look and see what you can find. A three bed serviced apartment in the Shangri-la residence was offered to us for 10k a couple of years ago which is very nice. A bus to DC goes from near there and a couple of kids from DC were staying there when we were there. The commute into the CBD sucks though. You could get something near Orchard for that money...or even something near City Hall which is a really short commute to the CBD.
Remember that when it comes to walking anywhere in Singapore the heat and the humidity are sapping. A few hundred metres seems fine as an idea but isn't so fine when the heat and humidity are high. Or if someone has set fire to half of Indonesia (pm2.5 counts can be sky high - there is an app for that as well - myENV)
The new dengue vaccine is worthwhile getting to reduce risks. I am the mosquito magnet in our family and don't want to take the risks so we have tons of DEET spray and vaccinations. I think it is something like S$130 a shot with two shots needed six months apart.
Are you doing a sighting visit before deciding? Given they are going to pay accommodation, and you have a rare family expat offer, I would think the firm should be happy to find that. We went in March and my wife started in May so not much of a delay there so be prepared to decide quickly if you do go.
UWCSEA is not a full IB school.
I wouldn't hesitate OP. UWCSEA is one of the best international schools in the world, and although it might not have the same focus or experience that you would get in a London school, it has so many other benefits. Your DS will get so much out of the experience :-)
Disclaimer: I am an ex TTS parent ( primary). Our eldest transitioned very easily to competitive schools in Hong Kong at the end of primary. Mandarin was weak though.
I still maintain what I said about the demographics.
In the long run we would have transferred to USCSEA like everyone else.
Uwc like TTS offer the IB diploma. They loosely follow the guidelines of the IB PYP but there no MYP really.
They both put a strong emphasis on the "learner profile" of the IB and all that jargon but actually deliver substance compared to other full IB schools. Expectations are high ish ( advanced math at uwc).
There is also a strong ethos of community service and being a world. Itizen etc....same is true for all top schools in Asia. I personally think a lot of is just show.
We are know at our 5th "top" Asian school and we know some administrators and teachers from previous postings. They rotate and most are highly experienced teachers who have learned to sing to the same tune.
It is a good idea to stick to a school for a full
Block i.e. upper primary or middle school/ HS to avoid gaps and/répétitions in science and "social studies" in particular.
I would say that a key element in your choice is where you think your child will be happy, where YOU fit as a family and what school you need to slit in next.
Laptop and Flurries thanks both for the advice. Great to hear from an (ex) TTS parent and it does sound like UWC is a great choice for us. I won't be able to go out and see it until early Feb so we will get ds to sit 11+ here anyway as a back up, but it does sound like a great option!
Dulwich College Singapore is a great school. My kids were at UWC and the academic level is very poor. Especially compared to UK private school education. Everyone is heavily tutored as teachers don't teach.
If you are looking for a school that compares to a London day school I would say your bets option is DCSG
Teachers don't teach
The DP scores are well above the world average.
Because the children are heavily tutored the results are heavily skewed
Wisedad thanks again for all that info - very useful indeed. Hopjhin could you tell me a bit more about your experience with UWC? It's obviously difficult for us as we are getting conflicting feedback but did you see evidence of heavy tutoring when your dc/dcs were there? And can I ask why you think DC is a better choice? As I said, we do like DC UK but as I understand DC Singapore is a franchise so not necessarily at the same level. Any feedback very gratefully received.
It's pretty much common knowledge. The school even did a survey and they discovered 90% of the HS is tutored. Also they bring in ringers for the IB. They have 100 super bright scholars that come at the beginning of sixth form that are cherry picked to go to the school. Finally,the UWCSEA is the only UWC that has a junior years programme. Basically they just made it up. It's very monetsorri, no textbooks, very teacher dependent and little structure. So of course, by the by the time you get to high school and do the GCSE you are super under prepared and end up getting tutored.
How can they ever learn anything?
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