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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
    Southeast Asia
    139299
  • T +65 6778 0771
  • E [email protected]
  • W www.tts.edu.sg
  • School Ages: 3-18
  • School Gender: Mixed
  • Total School Numbers: 2,829
  • Teaching Language(s):
    • 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)
  • Annual Fee Range: SG$ 41,550 – SG$ 50,865
  • Fee Information: Application fee: SG$ 1000 (non-refundable) Enrolment fee payable upon acceptance of each offered place (non-refundable): SG$ 3,500 Capital Levy payable prior to admission (non-refundable): SG$ 4,500 Others: External exam fees, uniforms, bus transport, food services, technology devices, optional trips.
  • Religion: None
  • Memberships: AoBSO, FOBISIA, HMC, IAPS.
  • State/Independent: Non-profit

Curricula:

  • A levels
  • International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)
  • 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

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The Good Schools Guide International. Period.

What The Good Schools Guide International says

CEO

Since 2018, Craig Considine BA MA. 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 coming here, he had a 10 year stint as headmaster at Millfield School UK, long renowned for its international students 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 - he 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 their respective heads of school, he is still very present around the school to ‘mark the ball’.

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 - and 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. While the school is not academically selective, talents in co-curricular activities are considered, in keeping with the school's holistic education.

Admissions are run on an annual basis, with applications up to three years in advance. A set closing date (15th February) ensures firm answers (eg if there's a waitlist) can be given in good time ahead of the next academic year's start date.

Exit

Students generally only to leave before graduation due to their family relocating (rather than moving to any other school in Singapore), 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.

No ‘outgoing service’ actively promoted, but past parents say their requests for interview practice or references were met positively and actioned quickly.

Both A Level and IB pathways see students head off to highly regarded universities across the globe. While the majority attend university in the UK (reflecting the strong British ethos of the school), increasing numbers head to universities in North America, Continental Europe, and Australasia.

In 2023, five to Oxbridge. 56.8 per cent to other universities in the UK (Edinburgh, Durham, King's College, Imperial etc), 24.5 per cent to the US, 9 per cent to Europe, 7.7 per cent to Canada. A few to Asia and Australia. 13 per cent of students (boys) stay in Singapore for National Service and 6 per cent took a gap year.

Latest results

In 2024, at IB - average score 38.8 (world average 30.3), one student achieved 45, 16 students achieved 42 or more.

In 2023, at IB - average score 38.7 (world average 30.2); three students achieved the prestigious bilingual diploma.
At A level, 58 per cent A*/A, 79 per cent A*-B.
At IGCSE, 81 per cent A*/A, 9-7.

Teaching and learning

This 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, topics draw on the school’s location in Asia and the region’s historical ties with the UK, along with twice-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 aueens, you might be disappointed, but that they will become culturally sensitive and engaged in the world around them is a given.

Moving into senior school (middle and upper), students work towards international GCSEs and classes such as philosophy and environmental systems - and societies are also added. Students are encouraged to take up two foreign languages (Mandarin, Spanish and French) 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 design and technology studio would agree this is a good thing.

The IGCSE offering is wide, with subjects now including film (run from a very enviable hi-tech media suite), computer science, economics and religious studies, to name a few. Language options include French, Spanish, Chinese and Latin. 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. A level subject choices are seen as excellent, with several subjects (eg geography and biology) offered in a modular way (meaning AS level exams are taken in year 11 and strong marks effectively banked ahead of the final A level exam in year 13). IB is taken by a third of the cohort and a thriving optional pathway with a good range of higher and lower level choices eg languages include Chinese, French, Latin and Spanish. Students tell us that teaching is 'amazing' and staff are 'so supportive,' whatever the curriculum choice.

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

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 - and a third of the teaching staff have been with the school for more than ten years - no mean feat in an expat environment. 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 sports and arts trips to student leadership opportunities. While school’s thought leadership forum (The Institute @ Tanglin) stimulates parents, students and staff alike with prominent guest speakers (eg Olympic athletes) and events such as TedXTanglinTrustSchool.

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

Learning support and SEN

Students are strictly placed into year groups according to the age they turned on 1st September. There is no alternative curriculum for children with special educational needs, but a strong SEN department 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 and at least one parent are required to have English proficiency at the point of admissions.

The language department offers many mother tongue enrichment opportunities and language learning throughout the school eg French, Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese and Hindi.

The arts and extracurricular

Music and drama are offered to a 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 would be easy to assume that your child won’t make it centre stage but, on the contrary, the school has a great history of fabulous infant and junior year-group productions – and the involvement of every child ensures SRO (standing room only) crowds. Even the Tanglin Virtual Choir performance, during Covid restrictions, had over 350 infant and junior singers participating, with every face seen. Come seniors, the lively battle of the bands and the annual production are the crowd pullers.

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. CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) a mainstay of the IB Diploma is also open to all A level students.

The introduction of the forest school pProgramme in the youngest years goes far beyond just a muddy play zone, rather it starts a spark of curiosity in the natural world that is kindled and nurtured through field trips and community projects as the young inquisitive students mature into passionate advocates.

Popular Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award at bronze, silver and gold levels.

Sport

This isn't the UK, so no rolling fields, but facilities are good and the (girls' and boys') football, rugby, touch and netball teams regularly top both the Singapore and international competitive leagues, so they must be doing something right! The level of commitment is impressive, especially given the early morning training sessions ahead of a busy (and tropically hot) school day.

Sports are offered on a ‘for all’ basis, with training and competitive seasons after-school and cross-sport participation encouraged. Sports, music and arts are further offered through a huge CCA (co-curricular activities) and SRC (sports and recreation clubs) programme - with everything from rock climbing to Masterchef or children’s university. Enough to keep any child busy after school each day.

Of particular note is the very strong swim programme, which will surely only improve further with the 50m Olympic-length pool in the new Tanglin Centenary Building. Gymnastics another stand-out - the new dedicated centre complete with physiotherapy practice being welcomed by top student gymnasts already accustomed to such facilities on their globetrotting competition and training circuits.

Ethos and heritage

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, popular parent cafe, impressive film and media suite and second full-size performance hall (The Moot) were welcomed back in 2017, when the school added the seven-storey Nixon building. The new Tanglin Centenary Building adds another impressive layer of sports and music facilities, and more.

With four schools (infant, junior, senior (including middle and upper school) and sixth form college) on one campus, you might assume your child could 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.

A shake-up of the school house system now sees children belong to one of eight houses (siblings allocated to the same one), staying in this house as they journey from infants to sixth form. Opportunities aplenty for the youngest students to look up to senior house peers eg house day, house sports.

Compared to other international schools, there are relatively few leavers each year and many families will tell you that this stable community is one of the many reasons they were drawn here. There will always be some (this is an expat community after all) but that every graduating cohort has a significant number of children who joined in nursery says a lot.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Pastoral care runs strong across all year groups. 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 - but school are onto this and a new cross-school pastoral care programme shows a real commitment to making this as much of a standout as its academics. In the meantime, a dedicated pastoral team (and lovely school nurses) are always ready to offer help.

The school has a first-rate counselling department providing individual student support and parent workshops, and parents report that the school is quick to respond to needs and refer as necessary. Student wellbeing and mental health is supported and promoted throughout the schools.

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, and responds with a 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, and the school works closely with parents, particularly those with teenagers.

Pupils and parents

The expat community, on which the school was founded, is more obviously international these days and Tanglin’s diverse student body reflects that, with nearly 50 per cent British passport holders. In total over 55 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.

The Friends of Tanglin (ex-PTA committee) works hard to build the parent community via eg book clubs, friends of the planet club New families are welcomed both in and out of the classroom.

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.

Money matters

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

The last word

Tanglin has a well-deserved, longstanding reputation as a truly excellent international school, with British values at its heart. It doesn't rest on its laurels and continues to evolve beyond most families' expectations - and above all, offers a strong academic track record.


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