It’s musical chairs for international schools

It’s musical chairs for international schools


WHEN the Canadian International School announced that it had secured a site in Jurong to house students from three of its campuses, a silent cheer went up from some other international schools.

They immediately began strategising expansion plans, including the possibility of taking over those campuses at Toh Tuck, Bukit Tinggi Road and Kampong Bahru.


This ongoing game of musical chairs has been played among international schools in recent years.


Since the spike in the expatriate population in Singapore from 798,000 in 2005 to 875,500 in 2006, popular international schools have been running at full capacity and watching waiting lists lengthen as they seek ways to expand.


‘When you’re bursting at the seams, you want to quickly find another campus so that you can clear the waiting list and give the students a place to study,’ said one principal.


Many of the campuses occupy leased sites belonging to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) or to private owners.


The Canadian school’s Bukit Tinggi campus, with about 500 students, received at least three enquiries in the past year from other expatriate schools and private firms wanting to start schools.


The same went for its Toh Tuck campus, which has 900 students and is leased from the SLA.


While the campus may only be vacant from 2010, others see no harm in putting their bid down for it.


‘It’s important to be watchful for opportunities and get your name into the game quickly. Location is of course paramount, you don’t want to have your campuses all over the place,’ said Mr Glenn Odland, principal of the Canadian school, whose newest campus opened in Tanjong Katong last year.


A tad too late in making enquiries was its neighbour at Bukit Tinggi Road, the German European School.


It would have been the perfect solution for the 30-year-old school, which was looking for a second campus to house its primary level children, said principal Gunter Boos, with a tinge of regret.


With a total enrolment of 1,075, it is over the capacity of 800 that its lush, green campus off Bukit Timah was built to take.


It has also had to keep 65, mostly primary-level pupils, on its waiting list for the past six months.


It may have found a solution though, in a disused school campus at Jalan Jurong Kechil, a 10-minute drive away, and will move its primary school – both German and English sections – there next month.


Its secondary and kindergarten sections will remain at the current site, which will allow them room to expand.


With a total capacity of 600 at the new school, there will be some space for growth when the current 450 pupils start lessons there.


This interim solution will remove its waiting list for the next three years but the principal is still on the lookout for a site nearer the existing campus.


Another growing international school, the United World College, has already announced plans for a second campus in Tampines to accommodate 2,500 students in 2010. Others are thinking up innovative ways to create more room in their existing schools.


It has been almost two years now that the German European School has been running over capacity, so it has borrowed six classrooms, an auditorium and carpark lots from another neighbour, the Institution of Engineers.


Given its modest cafeteria, the students’ lunch breaks are staggered into three slots to make sure that everyone has a seat for meals.


At the Canadian school, timetables are designed to ensure that classrooms are rarely empty. Teachers and students move around for lessons to make the best use of any free classroom.


Personal computers have been replaced by laptops which are put on trolleys for use in any classroom. This has proved so successful that there are now six ‘mobile computer labs’.


The French School, Lycee Francais de Singapour, on the other hand, has already increased its enrolment by 60 per cent over the last four years to its current 1,390 students.


To create 26 additional classrooms, it will demolish and rebuild its kindergarten block. The new block will


allow the school to take in 2,000 students in 2011.


In the interim, the kindergarten and part of the primary school will move to temporary premises.


Not many schools are like the Tanglin Trust School at Portsdown Road or the Australian International School at Lorong Chuan, both of which have enough space to expand on site.


The Tanglin Trust, with an enrolment of 2,250, wants to expand its senior school, with the total intake expected to hit just below 3,000 in the next five years.


The school has just built an additional floor onto its existing senior school to house eight new classrooms and is adding another building to house more senior school facilities that will be ready next year.


The Australian school, meanwhile, is furnishing its new $45 million junior school campus, built next to its existing campus in Lorong Chuan.


It will welcome about 800 pupils in July.


Source: Straits Times

Expat schools make room for growing population

Expat schools make room for growing population 

Aussie school’s $45m extension is latest; long waiting lists at popular ones

By Jane Ng 


THE Australian International School’s new campus extension in Lorong Chuan makes it the latest among international schools here to address the issue of the squeeze on places.

The $45 million junior school complex is a self-contained one on the school’s existing campus.


The fact that it needed this add-on facility points to the booming expatriate population here: many international schools are full, and popular ones have long waiting lists.


All eight schools contacted have either expanded or will do so in the next few years.


The number of expatriates here went up nearly 10 per cent in just one year, from 798,000 in 2005 to 875,500 in 2006, going by latest available figures.


The demand for places in international schools is expected to grow. A survey done by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) among its member companies last year found that a third – or 22 out of 68 – would be expanding their expatriate headcounts here by about 200 within the next three years.


These employees have about 300 children who will need places in international schools here.


The employees of the companies surveyed had among them 24 children who were on waiting lists.


AmCham has set up a committee to give its member companies better access to these waiting lists, and to work with various agencies to help schools gauge their expansion needs more accurately.


AmCham chairman Steve Okun, noting that many AmCham member companies have been unable to move key employees here because these employees’ children do not have places in their selected schools, said: ‘With most international schools at their admissions’ saturation, the situation is only worsening.’


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently counted the squeeze on places in international schools as a ‘constraint’ here, and said the Government had stepped in to ease the shortage by helping these schools to expand.


The director for education and professional services at the Economic Development Board (EDB), Mr Toh Wee Khiang, said that EDB was facilitating the expansion of the German European School and the United World College’s second campus.


It is also trying to interest top-quality institutions in setting up pre-tertiary schools here, he added.


But at least one school principal thinks the support given is insufficient.


He complained: ‘The EDB is attracting many companies here, but it is helping only some schools with expansion. Not enough is being done for many others. We are pretty much left on our own.’


The Australian International School happens to have room to expand on its existing campus.


Its new block has 40 classrooms for 800 pupils, a cafeteria, music and art rooms, a children’s library, more outdoor eating and play areas and an underground carpark.


The school’s population, now at 1,860, is expected to climb to above 2,100 next month.


Together with its other campus just next door, the school will be able to accommodate 2,500 students – and hold off having a waiting list for 18 months, said its director for marketing and enrolments Kim Douglas.


The school expects to have a waiting list again from 2010.


Its principal, Mr Peter Bond, said: ‘With many schools facing a similar situation as us, families want to know there’s a space for their children before bringing them here.’


He said he expected ‘no respite in the short term’.


The state of schools


Australian International School


Where: Lorong Chuan


No. of students: 1,860


Age range: Three to 18 years


Annual fees: $21,088 to $26,979


Waiting list: None


Issue it is facing: The opening of the new junior school will stave off the waiting-list problem for only 18 months.





German European School


Where: Bukit Tinggi Road


No. of students: 1,075


Age range: 18 months to 18 years


Annual fees: $19,100 to $23,500


Waiting list: None


Issue it is facing: The school is covered for the next three years, but is still on the lookout for a campus nearer the current one.





Tanglin Trust School


Where: 95, Portsdown Road


No. of students: 2,250


Age range: Three to 18 years


Annual fees: $20,000 to $25,000


Waiting list: One to two years


Issue it is facing: The expansion planned in the senior school will increase the school’s total intake to close to 3,000 in five years.



Lycee Fran?ais de Singapour (French School of Singapore


Where: Ang Mo Kio Ave 3


No. of students: 1,390


Age range: Two to 18 years


Annual fees: $11,000 to $21,500


Waiting list: 50 children


Issue it is facing: To create 26 more classrooms, the school will demolish and rebuild the kindergarten block. This will allow the school to take in 2,000 students by 2011.





DPS International School


Where: 36 Aroozoo Avenue


No. of students: 250


Age range: Four to 17 years


Waiting list: Three months


Annual fees: $4,200 to $5,700


Issue it is facing: Open since 2004, the school is planning to set up another branch soon.





NPS International School


Where: 10 & 12 Chai Chee Lane


No. of students: 212 as at May 2008


Age range: Four to 15 years


Waiting list: None for now.


Annual fees: $7,800 to $11,400


Issue it is facing: Plans to expand but may not be soon.





United World College Southeast Asia


Where: Dover and Ang Mo Kio (Holding campus)


No. of students: 2,900


Age range: Four to 18 years


Waiting list: Nine months


Annual fees: $19,485 to $24,315


Issue it is facing: The school’s long waiting list gave it the push to set up a second campus in Tampines by 2010.


Source: Straits Times