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Tanglin Trust School (Singapore)

Established in 1925, Tanglin Trust School is a BSO-inspected, private co-educational school with 2,800 pupils, ages 3-18, offering National Curriculum for England, IGCSEs, A levels and IB Diploma.

  • Tanglin Trust School (Singapore)
    95 Portsdown Road
    Singapore 139299
  • T +65 6778 3583
  • E [email protected]
  • W https://www.tts.edu.sg
  • Lower School Ages: 3-6
  • Lower School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Lower School Numbers: 736 boys and girls
  • Middle School Ages: 7-11
  • Middle School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Middle School Numbers: 768 boys and girls
  • Senior School Ages: 12-18
  • Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Senior School Numbers: 1,320 boys and girls
  • Teaching Language: English
  • SEN: SEN considered case by case
  • Boarding: Not available
  • Uniform: Yes
  • School Year: Three terms: end August - early July
  • School Hours: 7.50 am - 2.55 pm (secondary, 6th form 3.55 pm; 7.55 am - 2.50 pm (junior, reception to year 2 1.50 pm); 9.00 am - 1.50 pm (nursery)
  • Fee Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • Fee Details: Annual Tuition Fee (inclusive of Building Fee) range: 27,714 – 45,828 SGD per annum Infant Fees: SGD $27,714 - $34,485 Junior Fees: SGD $36,294 Senior Fees: SGD $41,874 - $45,828
  • Fee Extras: Enrolment fee: 2,675 Capital levy (once): 3,750 (max. 2 students per family) External exam fees, uniforms, bus transport, food services, technology devices, optional trips.
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Memberships: AoBSO, FOBISIA, HMC, IAPS.
  • State/Independent: Independent: private non-profit

Curricula:

  • A-Levels
  • IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)
  • International Baccalaureate (Diploma)
  • National Curriculum for England

Accreditations/Inspections:

  • Authorised by International Baccalaureate Organization (not to be confused as an inspection or accreditation agency)
  • BSO (British Schools Overseas inspection programme)
  • EduTrust Certification (Singapore)
  • Education Development Trust

No school can pay to be in
The Good Schools Guide International. Period.

What The Good Schools Guide International says

Head

CEO Mr. Craig Considine BA MA

Age

Sixties

Description

Since 2018; CEO Mr Craig Considine BA MA (early sixties); an Australian who started his career in independent schools down under, including Geelong Grammar School (famous for once housing Prince Charles) and a Headship at Wanganui Collegiate School in New Zealand.

Prior to joining Tanglin Trust School, he was Headmaster at Millfield School in the UK for ten years, long renowned for its international pupils and sporting achievements. A good fit, as he represented Australia in the decathlon at the Commonwealth Games and was a professional AFL footballer in his youth. He brings both this sporting and British independent school background into his role at Tanglin where he is instilling a mentoring mindset and holistic learning environment on top of Tanglin’s already excellent academics.

Don’t be put off by the CEO title or that his office is located up high in the smart Nixon building; Mr Considine is still a headmaster at heart and makes every effort to get out and spend time with students and parents. While your child will rightly be more familiar with his/her respective head of school (infant, junior, senior) it is clear that Mr Considine is still very present around the school to ‘mark the ball’.

Academic

(TTS) is a British international school which delivers the structure and rigour of the National Curriculum with an international perspective that runs through its core.

In the Infant and Junior years, this means using topics that draw on the school’s location in Asia and the region’s historical ties with the UK, weekly lessons in Mandarin and a myriad of cultural celebration days. If you are looking for your child to rote-learn the names and dates of English Kings and Queens you might be disappointed, but that they will become culturally sensitive and engaged in the world around them will be a given.

Moving into Senior school, students work towards International GCSEs and classes such as Philosophy and Environmental Systems and Societies are added. Students are encouraged to take up two foreign languages before narrowing down in year 9, in preparation for IGCSE. There has been some criticism over this dropping back to one language, but the lesson time is given over to picking up new subjects. The children who can’t wait to finally get their hands stuck into the DT studio would agree this is a good thing.

The IGCSE offering is wide with subjects now including film, run from a very enviable high-tech media suite, computer science, economics and religious studies to name a few. Students regularly sit 10 or more subjects and timetabling accommodates most students’ choices.

In Sixth form, students choose between A levels and IB Diploma. This is the only school in Singapore offering both qualifications which makes sixth form entry desirable from within Singapore as well as overseas. Entry is not competitive (and nor is it at any point within the school, making its exam results all the more impressive) but students must demonstrate that they will thrive in a stimulating, academic environment. This holds true for existing students moving up from within the school too.

Integration of the IB pathway is not just an alternative qualification for sixth formers; its critical and creative thinking skills are woven in at every level, and successfully enough that parents tell us children of all ages are engaged, interested and inspired by the teachers and teaching style.

Results are consistently high year-on-year. In 2020, 99% of all IGCSE grades achieved were A*-C and 78% A*-A, in line with the two previous year’s results. At A Level 98% were A*-C, an increase on the already very high norm of 91% and 92% seen in 2019 & 2018. The IB average scores also saw a very slight increase in 2020 to an outstanding 39.1% and an impressive 67hieving 38-45 points and 19 students scoring 42 points or more.

Class sizes average 24 but drop down considerably in exam years; 15 max in top years. Teaching quality is considered top notch across the school with experienced staff throughout; a third of the teaching staff have been with the school for more than ten years...no mean feat in an expat environment and students often fondly remember and compare teachers with their peers as they move through the school.

Overall attitudes to work are high among students. Occasionally there are rumours of external tuition sought for certain subjects, but this is not an everyday choice and many families are quick to point out that excellent results are consistently achieved by those who don’t.

Technology is second nature from Infants through to sixth form and iPads are seen in all the seniors' arms as they move around the school. The chatter around this has largely gone quiet as parents buy into the school’s goal to make such devices as unremarkable as pens and paper.

The core curriculum is supported and extended by the TTS Foundation. Fundraising means opportunities created for all students; ranging from a varied programme of speakers to student leadership opportunities. With Nobel peace prize winners and Olympic athletes within the parent and wider school network, the school isn’t short of inspiration to draw upon and plenty of parents enjoy these guest talks too.

Communication on school life and student progress is good and so are the TTS ParentWise workshops that plug parenting gaps, eg ‘How to be a good enough parent during unforeseen change’ was particularly popular during 2020.

SEN

Students are strictly placed into year groups according to their age on 1st September. There is no alternative curriculum for children with special educational needs but a strong SEN department that facilitates additional provision, be it in the classroom or one-to-one.

Parents are all agreed that Tanglin is very good at identifying and providing extra help, or "extension" through its academic enrichment programme, and it’s not unheard of for some parents to angle for this great reinforcement even when not strictly necessary. From extra handwriting lessons to computer rights in exams, parents say 'it's superb'.

Language Support

All students are required to have English proficiency at the point of admissions. No EAL provision here, but in recognition of the multiple languages spoken at home by many students, from French to Urdu and many in between, there are a good many mother tongue enrichment opportunities on offer.

Games, Arts and Options

Tanglin is well known for its very strong teams playing in the top leagues of competition series within Singapore and overseas, 'let's go Tanglin Lions' heard across many a border. Sports are offered on a ‘for all’ basis with training and competitive seasons run after-school and cross-sport participation encouraged.

Of particular note is the very strong swim programme with many students referring to Coach Andy, the Head of Aquatics, as a great mentor to them in and out of the pool. Sports facilities are good, this isn't the UK so no rolling fields but maximum use is made of space available. We still hear some grumbles about the loss of a games pitch and running track some years back, due to the Singapore Government reclaiming some leased land. But with a new 50m swimming pool, dedicated gymnastics centre, physiotherapy practice and more currently being built, these dark mutters will likely fall away fast.

Music & drama are offered to a similarly high level both in the curriculum and individually with plenty of performance opportunities within the school’s multiple choirs, orchestras and bands. With such a large school it might be easy to imagine that your own child won’t make it centre stage but to the contrary the school has a great history of fabulous Infant and Junior year-group productions; involvement of every child ensures SRO crowds. Even the Tanglin Virtual Choir performance, during Covid-19 restrictions, had over 350 Infant & Junior singers participating, with every face seen. Come Seniors, the lively Battle of the Bands and the annual production are the big crowd pullers.

Sports, music and arts are further offered through a huge CCA (co-curricular activities) and SRC (sports & recreation clubs) programme: with everything from Rock Climbing to Masterchef or Children’s University. Enough to keep any child busy after school each day though it doesn’t seem to deter some parents and students from casting about for still more activities outside school.

In fact this is something which the school is keenly addressing through efforts to encourage parents and staff alike to take a more holistic view of the school’s role in nurturing potential talents alongside academics.

Of particular note are Tanglin’s exceptional outdoor education and service-learning programmes. A highlight for many children, and one they often don’t fully appreciate until after they have left, are the many opportunities for trips such as rafting in Thailand or volunteering with a charitable organisation in Cambodia. This outdoor learning and community activity is deeply embedded into the schools’ curriculum and very popular with parents who see the positive effects long after the trip has ended.

The school has recently begun to offer The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award which has seen strong interest, and accomplishments, at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.

Background and Atmosphere

Anne Griffiths-Jones OBE, who founded the school in the Tanglin Club in 1925 with just five pupils would surely be astounded to see the school that Tanglin has become today. With over 2,800 students, a first-class campus and fantastic academic results, it's clear that her mission of providing high quality British education to children of expatriate families is being well met.

The campus and facilities have gone through many guises over the years, but Tanglin is firmly and securely rooted on its current campus in a fantastically central location. A DT lab, a very popular parent cafe, state-of-the-art film & media suite and second full size performance hall were welcomed back in 2017 when the school added the 7-storey Nixon building, and building works are currently underway to add more sports and music facilities.

With four schools (Infant, Junior, Senior, Sixth Form College) on one campus, it would be easy to imagine that your child might be overwhelmed by older students charging around. Not true: the school has always done an excellent job of creating individual school environments, although older students do cross paths with younger in a positive way through House events and cross-school initiatives such as ‘Reading with Infants’ (neatly tying in a service-learning element for older students), or subject-relevant peer mentoring between Sixth form and IGCSE students. The purpose-built Sixth Form centre continues to be a big draw for those moving up through the school.

Cooked lunches, prepared in the school’s kitchen facility by external caterers, are available for junior and senior students in separate canteen areas (staff eat separately too). Infants currently bring a packed lunch from home, or order one in from school, but will soon have their own dining area once the new building works are completed.

Pupils and Parents

The expatriate community on which the school was founded is more obviously international these days and Tanglin’s diverse student body reflects that, with 42% of students being British (down from 60% only a few years back) and the remaining 58% covering over 50 different nationalities. Asking children where their classmates are from could result in a long answer but one that is met with enthusiasm as they delight in each other’s diversity.

Tanglin pupils are ‘confident, happy and well-adjusted’. Parents frequently comment on the ease with which pupils talk individually to adults or publicly present to a room full of people. How much of that is a result of an expat upbringing and how much is down to the school is hard to tell but there is no doubt that Tanglin is seen as a happy school with confident students.

The Friends of Tanglin (ex-PTA committee) is working hard to build the parent community with new groups sprouting up like Book Club or Friends of the Planet. New families are welcomed with ease both in and out of the classroom.

Pastoral Care and Discipline

Pastoral care runs strong across the different Tanglin schools. The Infant and Junior schools are seen as warm and caring environments where parents feel that staff know their children well and children telling us that they love coming into school each day. “They are thriving” has been overheard at many a coffee morning.

Moving into Seniors, the pastoral backdrop is still there with class and year group tutors. However, many parents will tell you that while the support is there, the children don’t always seek it out for themselves. They’d like to see a more one-to-one tutor role for the emotional as well as academic issues. In the meantime, the lovely school nurses are always ready to offer a kind word as well as a plaster!

The school has a first rate counselling department which provides individual student support and parent workshops, and parents report that the school is quick to respond to needs and refer as necessary. Student well-being and mental health is strongly supported and promoted throughout the schools with students encouraged to have an open mindset and respect for well-being classes and initiatives.

Parent voices are encouraged with forums for feedback directly and anonymously at a class, year group and whole school level. The school is quick to assimilate this information; responds with a strong class rep system in place to feed back down to all parents.

Parents' concerns, or specific grievances, are taken seriously and appropriate action deployed sensitively. Poor behaviour is not tolerated; the school works closely in-hand with parents, particularly those with teenagers.

Expat

Students come from over 150 different schools around the world; the school operates a strict rolling admissions process with new intakes each term. This can frustrate some new families hoping for surety on an admission date, but this is the nature of a popular school that historically always has some level of waitlist.

But the waitlists do move, some years more quickly than others, and the admissions department are unfailingly patient and communicative with anxious families.

Entrance

Tanglin is not an open-entry school. Entry requirements include age-appropriate fluency in English and a child’s ability to thrive in a high achieving environment. These will be assessed if necessary. At key stages such as year 10 and sixth form, subject and pathway choice are also part of the consideration and early registration advised.

While the school is not academically selective, talents in co-curricular activities are considered in keeping with the schools’ promotion of a holistic education.

Exit

Family relocation is the primary reason for those students who leave before graduating, with the majority of students moving on to good independent schools in the UK or other British international schools overseas. Parents frequently worry about the transition and then are pleasantly surprised when they discover their child is actually further ahead in subjects such as maths than their new peers.

While the school doesn’t actively promote an ‘outgoing service’ as such, all the past parents we spoke to told us that their requests for interview practice or references were met positively and actioned quickly.

Tanglin friendships get mentioned time and time again as a huge strength of the school with friends and families staying in touch long after they have moved away from Singapore.

Students going on to university have headed to the UK ( (eg Oxbridge, Bristol and LSE) and the US (Stanford U, U of Chicago, UC Berkeley, Yale-NUS (Singapore)), Canada (U British Columbia), Australia and Europe.

Money Matters

Tanglin is a non-stock, non-profit charitable foundation dependent entirely on fees with all revenue ploughed back into the school. As such, most parents seem to agree that they see the full use of their fees in the great staff and good facilities. Extra-curricular activities and sports and outdoor education trips are also deemed to be reasonably priced for the quality and level offered.

Remarks

Tanglin has a well-deserved, long standing reputation as a truly excellent international school. With the arrival of several British brand name schools in Singapore in recent years, the school knows that it can’t rest on its laurels and they don't. If you are looking for a school that offers a strong academic track record, British values at its heart and a genuine international outlook, then Tanglin definitely ticks all the boxes. It's well worth braving the waitlist.


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