Blog Parents Key Decisions Guide to International School Curriculum in Singapore

Guide to International School Curriculum in Singapore

When it comes to picking the right private school for your kids, parents often look at proximity, reputation, tuition fees, accreditation, and facilities.

However, one of the most overlooked and misunderstood aspects of choosing an international school is its curriculum.

In Singapore, parents who wish to enrol their children into international schools have a choice of schools following either one of eleven types of curriculum (for various grade levels).

Choosing the right curriculum for your child is crucial – it can either help your child discover their talents and strengths, or stifle their learning and prevent them from reaching their full potential.

In this article, I’ll elaborate on all the confusing education lingo you’ve been reading on school pamphlets and help you discern between the various types of international school curricula so that you can make the best decision for your child.

Preschool Curricula

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum

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Building a foundation right is extremely important hence the Early Years Foundation Stage or mostly known as EYFS, a pre-school curriculum developed by the UK Government for children age 0 to 5 seems like the perfect choice when it is adopted by many childcare centres here.

The EYFS curriculum focuses on three key learning areas: physical development, personal and social development and communication. It is mainly to stimulate active learning and building meaningful relationships.

Physical development: Focus on motor skills, physical well-being, develop their coordination, place importance on physical activities

Personal & Social development: Develop self-respect, awareness, cleanliness, foster friendship, peer interaction, sharing and giving

Communication:  Development of languages, body language, confidence in expressing oneself and listening skills

Students would also be taught mathematics, basic literacy, expressive arts, and world understanding.

Children studying under the EYFS curriculum tend to develop advance critical and creative thinking skills and language proficiency.

The curriculum also encourages parents to be actively involved with school activities with their kids. That will be great bonding between you and your child.

International Schools that provide EYFS:
Australian International School
Tanglin Trust School

Montessori Curriculum

Do you know that young children are the most impressionable? A right start in his education is the right start in life! If you want your child to learn how to be independent and learn from their experience, the Montessori curriculum devised by Italian educator Dr. Maria Montessori is perfect for your child.

Montessori is a type of education method that is based on self-learning activities, collaborative play and hands on learning with both age-appropriate individual and team activities.

Students under this curriculum can explore their interests without any pressure, and they can opt to work on their own or in groups to take in their subjects better.

International Schools that provide Montessori:
Global Indian International School
America Montessori International Preschool

National Curriculum

AERO Curriculum

For expat parents who wish to send their children to the US or other international universities or expats who have children already familiar with the American education system, they can check out schools which follow the American Education Reaches Out Standards (AERO).

AERO covers a curriculum framework that starts from Kindergarten to Grade 12, with students given the power to select the subjects they are interested in before taking the major subjects. This is a standard assessment that is doled out by States government.

Empowerment at a young age will help to foster independence. Kudos to that!

Once they finish their education with an American High School Diploma, their credentials will be recognised by both US and Canadian universities. They would also be able to handle the SAT Reasoning Test, one of America’s college admission exams.

This is important if you are thinking of moving back to the States when your child is older.

International Schools that provide AERO:
Singapore American School
Sir Manasseh Meyer International School
Stamford American International School 

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Australian curriculum

Similar to the American curriculum, the Australian curriculum is perfect for children familiar with the Australian education system, intend to go back to Australia or wish to pursue further education in Australia.

You can tell a lot of thought is put into their curriculum that covers Primary to Year 10 education and focuses on eight major learning areas: Math, English, Humanities, Arts, Languages, Technology, Health and Physical Education, and Science.

Students are also aided to develop general skills from literacy, critical thinking, to ethical and intercultural understanding.

Once students reach Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, they will need to sit the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy Test (NAPLAN) to determine their current standing.

If they can finish the entire curriculum, they will be given the Higher School Certificate exam which will grant them the certificate once they graduate.

International Schools that provide Australian curriculum:
Australian International School
Avondale Grammar School
Integrated International School

CBSE Curriculum

The Central Board of Secondary Education or CBSE Curriculum is research-oriented and assists students in developing a global mindset.

It adheres to a comprehensive and continuous evaluation system, helping students develop key life skills necessary in today’s world. It spotlights on application of knowledge in across multiple context and engage in higher level of reasoning in different situations.

Students who are under the CBSE curriculum are required to take community service programs to help them understand the world around them and help improve the wellbeing of those who are in need.

This is what we need: empathy in the world.

International Schools that provide CBSE:
Global Indian International School

French Curriculum

If you want your child to become familiar with the French language or you wish for them to study in French schools in the future, schools utilising the French curriculum is a must.

The system is divided into two levels: level 1 for primary and elementary education and level 2 for secondary school.

Level 1 mostly focuses on helping students gain general knowledge and skills that they will need in later life. Students are also taught French and math during this level, as well as history, science, technology, arts, sports, geography and other languages.

Once they enter Level 2, the student will start at Le College or Lower Secondary School where they will hone their common core skills and knowledge.

When they enter Le Lycee or Upper Secondary level, they will now be able to select whether they wish to take a vocational path (voie professionnelle) or the general or technological path (voie general et technologique).

Expatriate parents that are likely to choose this program is when your child is older has already studied under the French curriculum for many years or they don’t intend to stay in Singapore for a longer period.

International Schools that provide French Curriculum:
La Petite Ecole
Lycee Francais de Singapour 

German Curriculum

For students who want to study in Germany in future or are familiar with the German system, schools using the German curriculum should be considered.

However, this system actually varies depending on where the student studied or wishes to study so you need to choose carefully.

Under the German curriculum, Kindergarten is an optional level for young students while the Grundschule is required for students ages 6 to 10.

Once the student enters secondary education, they have a choice of five different schools depending on their future preferences.

If they wish to take vocational courses, they can go to Realschule or the Hauptschule schools.

If they wish to go to German universities, they should go to the Gymnasium schools since they will be required to sit the Abitur examinations before they can be admitted.

If the student wants to go to an apprenticeship or take a vocational career, the Duale Ausbildung is ideal.

Most of the Germans in Singapore will choose to pursue this path as they will likely to move on to continue their further education in Europe.

International Schools that provide German Curriculum:
German European School Singapore

GCSE Curriculum

Most of us are familiar with GCSE as it is adopted by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore. If you are thinking of making Singapore your permanent home, you will need to consider GCSE in your selection as the local secondary schools are using GCSE as their exam benchmark.

For students ages 15 to 16 and studied under the UK National Curriculum, they will need take the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) curriculum. The certification is recognised worldwide by prestigious universities and companies.

The curriculum suits students who will be taking their diplomas or the A Levels, and prepare them for the next step towards obtaining their degrees.

GCSE offers nine major subjects depending on the student’s chosen field and several minor subjects to supplement their needs. No way your child will have anything lack to choose from!

International Schools that provide GCSE:
Australian International School
Dover Court International School
Dulwich College
GEMS World Academy
Global Indian International School
Nexus International School
One World International School
Tanglin Trust School
UWC South East Asia


The International GCSE is a new educational curriculum in England that is often compared to the international curriculum.

The IGCSE courses are similar to the GCSE curriculum, but it offers a wide variety to help students see other options available for them at the next level.

The biggest difference between GCSE and IGCSE is that the latter does not require your child to submit any coursework and will provide great relief to any expatriate parents as you can enrol your child anytime. This will give you more freedom in choosing the right school for your child.

I believe IGCSE is an all-rounder answer to the traditional GCSE to allow students to explore deeper into the subjects that they choose.

International Schools that provide IGCSE:
Australian International School
Dover Court International School
Dulwich College
GEMS World Academy
Global Indian International School
Nexus International School
One World International School
Tanglin Trust School
UWC South East Asia

International Curriculum

IB Curriculum

The International Baccalaureate curriculum, or the IB program, is considered one of the most advanced educational curriculums in the world.

It helps students develop academically, emotionally, physically and socially to help them succeed in the changing world. The program designed to work around the ever-changing economy so that graduating students are able to obtain a head-start in the working world.

What a great way to start a new chapter in life!

The IB program starts at a tender age of 3 and follows the child until he is 19 years old and ready to take his first step in his career or enrol into a university of his choice.

The program starts:
IB Primary Years Programme (3 to 12 years old)
IB Middle Years Programme (11 to 16 years old)
IB Diploma Programme (16 to 19 years old)
IB Career-related Programme (16 to 19 years old)

It is also highly recognised by higher education schools worldwide, including high-ranking universities. You may like to know that this is an extremely popular program that even some of the elite local schools have adopted into their system and only offered as a choice to their top students.

International Schools that provide IB:
Australian International School
Canadian International School
Chatsworth International School
EtonHouse International School and Preschool
GEMS World Academy
German European School Singapore
Global Indian International School
Hillside World Academy
ISS International School
Nexus International School
One World International School
Overseas Family School
Stamford American International School
Tanglin Trust School
UWC South East Asia 

IPC Curriclum

If you want your child to have a rigorous but global curriculum, the International Primary Curriculum or IPC has a great potential. This curriculum is suited for students ages 3 to 12 and it reflects some of the features of the IB Program.

It is a skill-based program that strengthen reasoning and comprehension skills with specific learning and research milestones. IPC has many similarity to the popular IB program.

This program is rigorous learning to allow teachers to create exciting activities to entice learners’ interest in their studies. It also encourage personal learning goals based on communication, thoughtfulness, cooperation, morality and interpersonal skills.

Under this curriculum, students will be able to develop advanced research skills, adaptation and interpersonal skills which can help them as they advance in their studies.

International Schools that provide IP:
St. Joseph’s Institution International School


Selecting the perfect school curriculum for your child’s needs sounds like a landmine at first glance. But, if you know your child’s strengths and do your research, you will be able to find the perfect school that will make your child flourish.

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.