Dulwich College (Singapore)
Dulwich College (Singapore) is a co-educational day school for 2,600 students aged 2-18, offering IGCSEs, IB and a Mandarin- English dual learning programme for 2 - 7 year olds.
- Dulwich College (Singapore)
71 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8
- T +65 6890 1003
- E [email protected]…ngapore.edu.sg
- W https://singap…re.dulwich.org
- Lower School Ages: 2-7
- Lower School Sexes: Co-ed
- Lower School Numbers: 723 boys and girls
- Middle School Ages: 7-11
- Middle School Sexes: Co-ed
- Middle School Numbers: 878 boys and girls
- Senior School Ages: 11-18
- Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
- Senior School Numbers: 1020 boys and girls
- Total School Numbers: 2,621 boys and girls
- Teaching Language: English
- SEN: SEN considered case by case
- Boarding: Not available
- Uniform: Yes
- School Year: End August – early July
- School Hours: 8.30 – 9 am - 3.25 – 3.40 pm (depending on year group)
- Fee Currency: Singapore dollars (SGD$)
- Fee Details: Annual tuition fee range – SGD $16,880 for half day nursery through to $46,840 for Y12-13. Families with three or more children are entitled to a 5% discount on fees for Reception and above Application fee - $4,500 (of which $500 kept if application is withdrawn) Capital levy fee - $3,750 for all new students
- Fee Extras: Fee extras: School lunches, bus service, uniform, school trips
- Religion: Non-denominational
- Memberships: CIS, FOBISIA. Owned by Dulwich College International. Certified EduTrust.
- State/Independent: Independent: privately owned (individual/corporation)
- IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)
- International Baccalaureate (Diploma)
- National Curriculum for England Used In Conjunction With an Adapted Curriculum
- Authorised by International Baccalaureate Organization (not to be confused as an inspection or accreditation agency)
- EduTrust Certification (Singapore)
No school can pay to be in
The Good Schools Guide International. Period.
What The Good Schools Guide International says
Mr Nick Magnus BA QTS
Since 2012; Mr Nick Magnus is the founding Head and Dulwich family ‘old hand’ as the previous founding Head of Dulwich College Suzhou. His first headship, at a British international school in Kenya, was at the tender age of 32 and in his own words he ‘went to school aged 4 and hasn’t left since’; an educator through and through.
Together, with wife Sonia, a teacher and Deputy Head of Early Years and two children at the College, Mr Magnus embodies the Dulwich family approach and is regularly seen at the College entrance or cheerily roaming the halls each day. A consummate headmaster, he very much talks the talk and walks the walk, which parents love, and there is little doubt that the College is in good hands.
With a strong sense of decency and humour, he unconsciously prompts good behaviour from all around him, though luckily not enough to stop parents letting their hair down at the annual Dulwich Ball.
Dulwich College (Singapore) is an international school with a strong British independent school ethos imbued from its 400-year Dulwich College heritage. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a franchise school; far from it, this seventh of the international Colleges wears its Dulwich badge with pride and the first set of graduating results would suggest rightly so.
The inaugural graduating class of 2019-2020 achieved an average IB score of 37, with one in three students obtaining an average of 40 points and 100% of students receiving their first choice university for 2020. The IGCSE results last year were also very strong with 53% of all grades an A* or equivalent, 41% of students achieving A* or A across all exam subjects and A* - C’s awarded for 99% of all 1,059 exams taken.
As one of Singapore’s few academically selective schools you would expect results to be high, but the picture is more than that. In DUCKS (Toddler to Year 2) and Juniors (Year 3 to 6), Dulwich follows the English National Curriculum, but enhanced to reflect its international standing...the dual language Mandarin programme a particular highlight. The rigour of Juniors sets students up well for the IGCSE programme in Seniors which, unusually for Singapore, commences in Year 9 and is run across three years. According to the College, this allows them to extend the teaching and learning opportunities beyond the curriculum and prepare them for independent learning as they move into the IB Diploma. For parents the view is more mixed with some feeling the children drop some subjects too early.
The school has a superb Mandarin English dual language programme in DUCKS, that is cited by many parents as a big pull. Within this there is a full-time "Lao Shi" (Chinese teacher to the uninitiated) in every class, with children quickly integrating Mandarin into everyday life and learning. As students move up into Juniors, Mandarin is continued through the Junior School Mandarin Learning Centre with allocated weekly teaching time matching that of Maths and English. Moving into Seniors, this tails off in intensity and by Year 7 children have the option to also pick up Spanish, French or German. For a few families there is a sense of disappointment that their children’s Mandarin skills peaked so young but for many, and especially those arriving in older years, the offering and options sit comfortably.
Class sizes are slightly smaller than other similarly sized international schools, with 22 students per class from Years 1 and above, and 10 classes per year group.
Teachers are young, with an average age of 39, bringing bags of enthusiasm into the classrooms. The arrival of many new teachers is a reflection of a growing school and staff are often recruited from within the Dulwich Group, with eleven currently celebrating more than ten years in the ‘family’.
This is a school where parent expectations run high. The College sets the bar for this with its selective admissions process, the rigour of its programmes and higher teaching fees but it is successfully delivering. The view is that teachers are excellent, students are challenged and that there is a student culture where academic achievement is celebrated; it’s cool to work and student agency is top of the agenda.
The libraries and their study areas are frequently highlighted as a positive by parents, as are the librarians who do a great job of getting younger children interested in reading. With cardboard cut outs of teachers holding their favourite books dotted around the library, it seems the librarians also do a great job of encouraging staff.
The Additional Educational Needs department provides support for students who show moderate learning difficulties in their time at the College. We hear that this support is more readily available in younger than senior years, as you would expect in an academically selective school with students arriving ahead of exam years.
English is the teaching language. In DUCKS, Mandarin is incorporated into all classes through the dual language programme but it should not be mistaken as an EAL programme; all non-native English speakers will be assessed by admissions.
Games, Arts and Options
Dulwich is unashamedly competitive on the sports fields. There is a ‘sport for all’ approach with students participating in teams for sports of their choice but if you are in the Firsts or Seconds there is no doubt you are ‘in it to win it’.
The range of sports on offer is extensive and the list of sporting achievements long; netball, rugby, gymnastics, swimming, riding and more all taken to a high level at inter-school competitions and overseas cups such as FOBISIA. The Student Athlete Support Programme is currently journeying 48 high performing sports students through a talent pathway, with football already seeing two students move on to play U18 football in the European Premier Leagues.
With many of the College’s buildings looking onto its main sports pitch, running track and 25m swimming pool, competition must reach fever-pitch as students vie for a coveted place in the Dulwich Olympiad, a celebration of sports, drama, music and art across the Dulwich family of schools.
The performing arts is another lauded part of College life. The Alleyn Theatre, with the only pipe organ found in a Singapore international school, is a fabulous facility that the College and students make the most of. Public speaking and performance opportunities abound. Impressively, every single Junior student not just learns an instrument but is taught to read music and is encouraged to take their loaned instrument home for practice throughout the year.
Design technology and creative arts are woven into the programme early, with even the youngest of students spending time in the much loved DT lab and the first graduating cohort including an interior design and fashion design student.
While the CCA (Co-Curricular Activities) after school offering is extensive, the tangibility and cost are sometimes questioned, leading some families to seek group activities outside of school. For others, the school day is more than full enough as it is.
Background and Atmosphere
The College pulls heavily on its Dulwich College heritage and there is little doubt this has enabled the school to quickly assimilate a strong reputation. The façade of the main building mirrors Dulwich College in the UK, complete with iconic clocktower.
Dulwich alumni are spun into the psyche, with one of the Houses named after Ernest Shackleton: the sense of pride of belonging to this Dulwich community is evident. But this should not detract from what the College has achieved as a Singapore international school.
The young, state-of-the-art, campus is maturing towards a goal of becoming a sustainable urban learning environment. The reuse, reduce, recycle mantra is passionately lived out by students, staff and parents, with the edible garden frequently referenced. Sure, it’s a city school with restricted space, the sun beats down hard on its playing field, but the College has created an admirably beautiful campus that the community can all enjoy.
Linking with the local community is also a fundamental part of College life. It is not just that members of the local senior citizen home are invited to watch school productions and engage with students (incidentally, a lovely opportunity for younger years to practice their Mandarin) or that older students volunteer in a local nursery school. Actively engaging as a responsible global citizen is part of the Dulwich education.
Global values notwithstanding, matters close to school still remain important and special mention must be made of the excellent student canteen. Many a prospective parent has been tempted to sit and enjoy the sushi or pizza oven on their admissions tour.
Pupils and Parents
British students are the dominant nationality here with 42% holding a British passport but Australian and other Asian nationalities are on the increase and the College is described by parents and students alike as very inclusive.
While students are unassumingly proud of their school, the parent community is more openly fervent. Much of this is down to the founding parent community, a high number of whom are still in place which is perhaps reflective of the professional international families the school attracts, who delight in sharing the College’s success. With the exit of the first graduating cohort, family turnover will naturally run higher, but the Dulwich ‘Kool Aid’ will likely still flow strong.
The Friends of Dulwich parent committee work hard and families tell us that they are made to feel very welcome from the moment they join, especially at DUCKS and Junior levels. A parent café on campus is well-used and a class parent structure is finally seeing off the dreaded round-the-clock bombardment of WhatsApp year group chat.
Pastoral Care and Discipline
Time and time again we hear that children are nothing but happy at Dulwich. No one is saying that the usual friendship and teenage issues don’t arise but that the school is good at addressing them and communicating with parents.
Importantly, the school community pulls together to support families and children during challenging times and on the rare occasion when a serious issue arises, the school is swift to act sensibly and sensitively.
This is one of the few schools that openly offers a programme to prepare younger children for a school move. While the college doesn’t teach to the Common Entrance exam, it does implement the rigour in its Year 7 – 9 curriculum and 7+, 11+ and 13+ entry into British schools is supported with an after school programme. This is highly welcomed by families looking at such a move.
Dulwich is academically selective. Students are assessed in an age-appropriate manner with Junior and Senior applicants required to produce a written essay in addition to having CAT scores assessed, which are viewed in relation to the current cohort. A waitlist process operates but sibling priority is applied as the aim is to keep families together. Families are often disappointed when a place cannot be given but students may re-sit the assessment six to 12 months later, at the discretion of the Head of School or Admissions.
The school is supportive of transitions, both in and out. Where extra support might be needed to help a student during the settling in phase, so that support will also be offered when needed for moving on. As expected of an international school, families leave for a varied list of destinations and with a high achieving community, it isn’t unexpected to see students move to reputable independent schools in the UK, including Eton, and overseas.
The results of the first graduating cohort, who all achieved their first choice of university across the UK (eg UCL, Durham University and University of Bath), US (eg Boston University), Europe (Polimoda and Erasmus University, Rotterdam), Australia (University of Sydney) and New Zealand (University of Otago), is very encouraging with course choices varying from medicine to fashion.
Dulwich College (Singapore) is part of the Dulwich College International network of schools. With ten schools in seven cities across Asia and three sister schools, the DCI is certainly going strong.
This for-profit backdrop to school fees is always present in the mind of families not lucky enough to benefit from an expat education allowance (that’ll be most families these days then) and there are no scholarships available. However there is a means-tested financial support programme available on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the College.
Parents are rightly demanding of transparency on expenditure but with a top notch campus and the recruitment of excellent teachers there are few complaints beyond the pricing of school trips.
Much like its students, Dulwich is confident, not arrogant, in its ability to successfully deliver a global education. Families looking for academic rigour and a healthy level of competition will love it here. Once in the Dulwich fold, you will surely find it hard to leave and those that do, must frequently find themselves looking back wistfully.