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Dover Court International School

An inclusive school with a British background, Dover Court is an all-through, co-ed, day school for 1,750 students offering an adapted English National Curriculum, IGCSEs, IB Diploma and BTEC.

  • Dover Court International School
    301 Dover Road
    139644 Singapore
  • T +65 6775 7664
  • E [email protected]
  • W www.dovercourt.edu.sg
  • Lower School Ages: 3-7
  • Lower School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Middle School Ages: 7-11
  • Middle School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Senior School Ages: 11-18
  • Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Total School Numbers: 1,750 (approx 900 boys, 850 girls)
  • Teaching Language: English
  • SEN: Mainstream with SEN support
  • Boarding: Not available
  • Uniform: Yes
  • School Year: Three terms: August - December; January - March/April; April - June
  • School Hours: 8.30 am – 3.00 pm (nursery 11.30 am)
  • Fee Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • Fee Details: Annual Tuition Fees: Nursery: 21,810 (full day) Reception - year 2: 26,235 Year 3-6: 28,050 Year 7-9: 31,155 Year 10-11: 32,565 Year 12-13: 33,855 Department for Supportive Education (DSE Students): Early Intervention (EYFS), and Year 1-2: 38,895 Year 3-6: 41,235 Years 7-9: 42,000 Year 10-11: 42,330 Year 12-13: 42,840
  • Fee Extras: Application fee: 1,000 Registration fee: 3,000 Annual building fund fee:1,500 DSE assessment fee: 535 EAL supplement (termly year 1-9): 1,210 Uniforms, exam fees, school camps, transportation, lunch
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Memberships: FOBISIA. Owned by Nord Anglia.
  • State/Independent: Independent: privately owned (individual/corporation)

Curricula:

  • GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)
  • IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)
  • International Baccalaureate (Diploma)
  • International Primary Curriculum
  • National Curriculum for England Used In Conjunction With an Adapted Curriculum

Accreditations/Inspections:

  • Authorised by International Baccalaureate Organization (not to be confused as an inspection or accreditation agency)
  • Council of International Schools (CIS)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

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

What The Good Schools Guide International says

Head

Principal Mr Richard Dyer BA MA

Age

Sixties

Description

Since 2021, Richard Dyer (60s), previously head of British International School Budapest and British International School, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Came from a ‘humble background’ and went onto Cambridge (maths) then rather fell into teaching because he wanted to ‘do something good’. With a long string of teaching and leadership qualifications to his name and over 38 years’ experience in international education, he’s certainly not new to the game and must surely be heralded as a safe and steady pair of hands.

Prior to joining the aforementioned schools (both owned by Nord Anglia Education as is Dover Court - ‘phenomenal professional opportunities’), Mr Dyer also held principal and vice principal roles at Alice Smith School and Garden International in Malaysia and West Island School, Hong Kong - all highly respectable names on the international school circuit. While he wasn’t necessarily looking for the next role, the temptation of a move back to SE Asia was enough of a pull for him and wife, Catherine. Three grown up sons stayed back in the UK.

Initial reports from parents are very positive: ‘He’s making a real effort.’ ‘He seems genuinely engaged with parents.’ Already making welcome changes – parents cheered when he swiftly removed the late start on Wednesdays that his interim predecessor had instigated for staff training – and looking to consolidate the school’s already inclusive culture while celebrating its heritage and history. Talks about the value of integrity and authenticity - his advice for students joining the school is ‘talk to people, make eye contact, engage.’ Clearly a mathematician - it’s as if his eyes are scanning rows of invisible data when he considers his words in response to our many questions - but not driven just by numbers, telling us he’d be really happy as an underwater photographer ‘for the combination of tranquillity, focus, creativity, artistry, science and nature.’

A great fit for the school, in our view: a backdrop of Britishness, a huge dose of international-ism and a big believer in community and inclusiveness - all the values that underpin Dover Court.

Academic

Dover Court International School is an all through, inclusive, family school. The vast majority of children here are on a mainstream path following an internationally adapted English National Curriculum and working towards IGCSEs and IB. For a much smaller, but no less important, number of children, there are two alternative paths.

Pathway 2 offers this main curriculum in small classes of 8 to 10 with heaps of one-to-one attention. Pathway 3 is for children with more specific needs; group and individual therapy sessions run with an alternative skills-based curriculum.

Dover Court calls this ‘supportive education’. Parents call it a relief. In a city where other international schools trip over each other to present a shiny campus and stellar results, Dover Court presents a refreshing alternative. One parent described the early years as like finding a lovely British village school, small and nurturing with excellent teaching.

Another told us they wished the school received greater recognition for its secondary years. It’s the only school in Singapore currently offering a BTEC level 2 (and soon-to-be level 3) in business which gives students a vocational pathway and hands-on learning.

This should not leave you thinking that it is a non-academic school. Rather, this is a non-selective school where all children are challenged. IGCSE and IB results are strong and the message comes out loud and clear from parents: teaching is excellent and encouragement for children even better.

In 2021, the third graduating cohort of IB students received an average score of 36 with one student scoring a very impressive 44 points and two students receiving bilingual diplomas. Comfortably higher than the average 34 seen across other Nord Anglia schools. It is still early days for these IB years but with the cohort size and grades on the rise, there will be more than a few families revisiting their assumption that Dover Court is just a good prep school.

The IGCSE results are more reflective of the tailored pathway approach, and kudos to the school for not presenting them otherwise. In 2021, 96 per cent of all students achieved 5 IGCSEs or more including English and maths, up from 94 per cent and 79 per cent in 2020 and 2019 respectively. 41 per cent of all entries achieved grades 7-9, a slight drop from the 50 per cent in 2020.

Parents tell us that one of the school’s top qualities is the engaging primary teaching. Creative themes and interesting topics are the order of the day. Children say how fun the lessons are; parents are quick to assure us this doesn’t come at the expense of solid foundation skills, especially in maths and English.

In secondary, the IGCSE selection has a good spread of academic and creative subjects. global citizenship particularly caught our eye as an interesting, in a good way, choice. In the IB years, the school adds some subjects, philosophy & economics, using Pamoja, the IB approved online course provider. Those wanting a more hands-on approach can opt for a Business BTEC, recently added but going down so well the school is already extending it to level 3.

Mandarin lessons start in nursery and by year 6 children are encouraged to take the Youth Chinese Test (YCT) language proficiency test. A great way to consolidate skills ahead of the alternative offerings of French in year 7 or Spanish in year 9.

Dover Court is one of 69 Nord Anglia schools, and this group connection is maxed out with ‘Global Campus’ (67,000 students no less) challenges and activities. What the level of student take up is hard to say but the opportunities are very real. A STEAM week at MIT in Boston anyone?

Mainstream classes of 24 aren’t smaller than other schools but this drops down to 8 to 10 children in the SEN streams. Many parents say these small classes and the overall small school size are a big draw. As the secondary continues to grow, it’ll become more about the small school culture. Long may it last.

Teachers are rated highly. They are a passionate lot, committed to the Dover Court mission, and the ‘massive teacher support’ is quoted as making all the difference.

The vast majority are British (85 per cent) and have access to Nord Anglia University with many teachers studying for master's degrees while on the job. Strong role models indeed.

Assessment and reporting are central to the school’s approach and parents feel very connected to their child’s progress.

SEN

Dover Court welcomes children of all abilities and needs with emphasis on challenging all students. We heard it very nicely put as; ‘accepting all abilities doesn’t mean they are any less ambitious for each student’.

Specialist teams are all onsite, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and an in-house educational psychologist all at your service.

Parents highlight the interaction between all students. Children can move between Pathways 1 and 2 yet friendships are not bound by these classroom doors. Children in Pathway 3 have more specialist needs but social integration is a key feature with lunchtimes, sports activities and school trips put to good use. Parents confirm that this mixing of students is what lies at the heart of the warm and friendly community.

SEN assessments are only required for admissions where two years of past reports cannot be provided.

Language Support

EAL support is available up to, but tapering off by, year 9. New students are not accepted into these classes after year 8; they must be able to dive straight into IGCSE content.

Games, Arts and Options

Music and performing arts are presented with pride. The Nord Anglia collaboration with The Juilliard School is played out with children learning instruments from the drums to the euphonium (go on, look it up) and theatre and music featuring high on the timetable all the way through to IB level. It seems that the 2019 added music studio and music technology room were worth the investment; when we looked around they were buzzing with activity. As we imagine was the black box theatre. It was a little dark to see!

The real grass football pitch, one of very few in Singapore, and athletics running track are much admired by visiting sports teams and parents. They are put to good use too; football, rugby, touch, netball, basketball, swimming teams and more all playing in Singapore school leagues and Asian tournaments.

Parent feeling about sports is mixed. Some say the school’s small size lends opportunities to more children. Others say its sporty kids first. We say the trophy wall in the reception area stands up to many other international schools, especially for a school that doesn’t put winning as the raison d’être.

More than 50 after school activities are offered with community service, International Duke of Edinburgh and the UNICEF Student Ambassador programme sitting comfortably alongside more homely arts and crafts.

Background and Atmosphere

Many schools envy the school’s very green 12-acre campus and this sets the tone for an outdoorsy feel all round. The buildings are low-rise and on first impression you could be forgiven you were still heading into the former Officers Mess of the Royal Corp of Signals; the site on which the school was founded in 1972.

When the school joined Nord Anglia Education in 2014, the buildings were given a freshen up but with a rather uninspiring colour palette and an internal rather than external make over. We’d encourage parents to look at the many positives. Big green spaces, modern and bright classrooms, outdoor learning areas, covered play areas, 25m pool and an enticing sensory garden to name a few. The purpose built secondary block was added in 2019. Don’t make the mistake of thinking its concrete floors are unfinished: this is by student design. As was the logo for the Red Dot café.

The concert hall will take you back in time to your own school days and the “yard”, a block where children can drop in and get creative will surely tug a cord with parents who love to see children busy without screens.

What families will tell you is that the magic of Dover Court actually lies in its community. When inclusivity is your mission, what better way to seed it than through staff and parents; Dover Court does this very genuinely. Without exception we were told that the school and other parents are caring at every turn.

The student house system is grounded in Dover Court’s previous incarnation as a preparatory school; house days and house activities run as ‘friendly competition’.

Parent communications set a similarly gentle tone. The Monday morning school email highlighting the blooming of an orchid alongside the achievements of children. With parents welcomed onto campus with open arms, the parent portal and Dover Court News and student podcasts perhaps command less attention but are still active for those that wish.

The school canteen does a great job of serving up snacks and lunches prepared on site daily. We hear the vegetable korma is a firm favourite.

Pupils and Parents

An inclusive school means many nationalities; 60 at the last count. A quarter of students are British and the school map shows a healthy balance of students also from Australia, Asia and Europe.

As you are probably won’t be surprised to hear by now, parents tell us that all students are welcomed easily. Friendships develop quickly and that’s not just among the children. Families are given a ‘buddy’ who will reach out before term starts; that first day becomes a little less daunting for everyone.

Parents are encouraged to get involved. The opt-out Dover Court Association (DCA) is forever busy organising coffee mornings, quiz nights, movie nights and even the school’s sports day. This is a community of like-minded parents.

Pastoral Care and Discipline

Support is a big part of what Dover Court does best. Whether it is changing pathways or moving into secondary school there are oodles of individual prep, taster sessions and transition days. The interactive playground and mindfulness sessions got special mention. Parents are unanimous in their comments that children feel safe and supported. Teachers go above and beyond, classroom doors are open early, emails get timely responses. No complaints here.

Expat

The school is unable to accept students who are in Singapore on a Student Pass or Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP). This won’t affect most new expat families arriving with children as ‘dependents’ on their Employment Pass. [see details about these passes in "Singapore: education guide for expats"].

The school’s application fee is only paid once regardless of how many children in your family you are enrolling. This is very much in keeping with the school’s family approach.

Entrance

Non-selective and welcoming to all academic abilities. Rolling admissions year round. Nursery, reception and year 1 are all new intake years, after that places are offered as students leave. Siblings are given priority, this is a very family orientated school. 20 new places open up in sixth form and new this year is an IB Diploma scholarship programme.

Exit

Early exit tends to be a result of family relocations in the younger years and for older students, a return ‘home’ to qualify for university home status. Some children head to larger schools. The BTEC offering in Sixth form may yet prove to be a very popular draw and that, with the new IB scholarship programme, is sure to quickly build secondary numbers.

The first graduating cohorts have got off to a great start with places secured at first class universities in the UK (eg Durham, Edinburgh, Manchester and York), Canada (Quest), Australia (Uni of Melbourne), New Zealand (Uni of Auckland) and Europe (eg Leiden and The Hague).

Money Matters

Originally owned by a private company the school was acquired by Nord Anglia in 2014. Teaching fees are seen as reasonable but additional fees are charged for EAL and therapists as well as the usual for uniform, lunches and school buses.

Remarks

‘Personalised learning’ is bang on trend these days and Dover Court has it licked. Academically inclusive, community minded; this is a school where it’s the children not the facilities that shine. That’s exactly how Dover Court families like it.


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