Nexus International School (Singapore)
Nexus International School is privately owned and co-ed with 1,000 students aged 3 to 18, in a new high-tech campus complete with open plan classrooms. Curricula include IBPYP, IGCSEs, IB Diploma.
- Nexus International School (Singapore)
1 Aljunied Walk
- T +65 6536 6566
- E [email protected]
- W www.nexus.edu.sg
- Lower School Ages: 3-11
- Lower School Sexes: Co-ed
- Lower School Numbers: 550 boys and girls
- Middle School Ages: 11-16
- Middle School Sexes: Co-ed
- Senior School Ages: 16-18
- Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
- Senior School Numbers: 450 boys and girls in secondary
- Total School Numbers: 1000 boys and girls
- Teaching Language: English
- SEN: SEN considered case by case
- Boarding: Not available
- Uniform: Yes
- School Year: 2 Semesters, 4 terms
- Fee Currency: SGD $
- Fee Details: Nursery full day S$29,200 to Years 12 & 13 S$40,760
- Fee Extras: Application fee S$856, Enrolment fee S$2,500, Annual development levy S$1,712
- Religion: Non-denominational
- Memberships: IB World School, Apple distinguished school, IGCSE Exams, WWF Eco-Schools programme (Bronze level). Owned by Taylors Education Group
- State/Independent: Independent: privately owned (individual/corporation)
- IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)
- International Baccalaureate (Diploma)
- International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP)
- National Curriculum for England Used In Conjunction With an Adapted Curriculum
- Council of International Schools (CIS)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
- EduTrust Certification (Singapore)
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What The Good Schools Guide International says
Principal Mrs Judy Cooper BA, MA
Since 2017: Mrs Judy Cooper joined Nexus following a two-year headship and 11 years as vice principal with King George V school, part of the English Schools Foundation network in Hong Kong, and eight years teaching and leading in schools in the UK. Currrently finishing up a doctorate in education from the University of Bristol following research on coaching leadership in Singapore international schools.
Nexus’ guiding principles of trust and respect were the lure to Singapore, aligning closely with her own personal values she says; the chance to don a hard hat and oversee the school’s $230 million transformational campus move was doubtless a pull too.
Her favourite part of the fabulous new campus? The parent lounge and workspace. This sums Judy up pretty well we think; a parent herself with two children in the school and passionate about empowered learning communities, be it parents, staff or students.
An IB world school running a hybrid curriculum of the IB PYP, English National Curriculum to IGCSEs and onto IBDP. The school is currently a candidate school for the IB MYP.
Learners, aka students, follow an inquiry-based curriculum in line with the school’s overarching values-based framework, the self-named 'The Nexus Way', and a very 21st century use of open-plan classrooms and ever-present technology.
This is a globally minded school, the IB PYP is delivered in primary years (3-11) against Singapore standards for maths, UK and New Zealand standards for English, and the Australian science curriculum. The end of primary years exhibition is a highly anticipated moment when children put this all into action; previous years have run a training session for the Singapore Paralympics team and created a road safety programme for nursery and kindergarten years.
In the secondary years, ages 11 to 16, teaching follows an enhanced English National Curriculum. The school is currently rolling out the IB MYP for years 7 to 9, which it says is more in keeping with its innovation and critical thinking style. IGCSEs will remain on the menu for years 10 and 11…for now. 22 subject choices available, a global slant thrown in; world literature sitting alongside English literature and global perspectives a core subject.
French and Mandarin are the languages of choice, offered throughout the school with five lessons a week. Spanish is introduced from year 9 and falls into IGCSE and IB options.
Moving into years 12 and 13, the IBDP is rolled out with a big bang; creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation all highly encouraged alongside core academics. For two years running, Y12 students have won first place in the Junior Achievement Company of the Year award for Singapore and Asia. Their winning entry? 'Scrap caps' (and bags) upcycled from old promotional banners and now adorning many a student's head.
The focus at Nexus is on 'developing the whole learner'. The school says, ‘We can be more creative, more innovative in what we do, but we can still get the university results that some people are looking for. It’s a different way of working.’
The results back this up. In 2021, the average IB grade was 37 points, up from 34 in 2020 and 32 in 2019 and 44% of diplomas were bilingual. At IGCSE in 2021, 38% of all entries were A/A* grade and 93% pass rate for A* to C, again an increase from 33% and 85% respectively in 2020.
Positioning itself as a digitally forward-thinking school, it would perhaps be more worthy of comment if devices weren’t seen in hands. But the school is keen to stress that it’s not about losing children to screens; the pick-up, put-down ease of iPads make them the tool of choice, eye contact stays on teachers we're told, and the innovation part comes through the teaching methods.
Teaching is delivered through open plan classrooms known as learning pods. Many schools talk about breaking down walls; Nexus actually did it. Sliding panels, beanbags, presentation spaces; these are not classrooms as most parents know them. Children sit where they like, teachers move around them. Where desks are needed, they’ll be white board desks. No scratching your name in the wood with a compass...writing on the desks is actively encouraged.
The science megalab is just that; the largest lab space we’ve ever seen in a school but cleverly zoned so no dissections in front of the squeamish and separate classrooms off to the side. The 2-storey learning resources hub, a library to the rest of us, is designed around large wooden trees of books and the newly opened treehouse for primary years is simply a magical faraway space.
This isn’t just for fun; the school says that it is a research and evidence-based approach to effective learning; and creative spaces prepare children for the different working environments of their future.
With four to six classes in each year group and up to 24 children in secondary classes, fewer in younger years, you would be forgiven for thinking that lessons in large open spaces could, at the very least, be an acoustic challenge but it seems not. The design works; students love this ultra-modern flexible style of learning, so do the teachers.
Teacher collaboration is high; it’s certainly easier to implement your open-door policy within open-plan spaces. Teachers are all internationally trained, 35 per cent have master's degrees and 61 per cent of classroom assistants have degrees; ongoing teacher training is prioritised with a budget to match. It’s not unusual to see teachers visiting other schools in Asia; return invites to see Nexus’ innovative approach always welcomed.
Home learning, aka homework, is a collaboration between parents, students and school. We're told by parents that teachers are 'very accommodating' apparently if it all gets too much in younger years.
Ongoing student assessments point to a learning summary at the end of both semesters. Celebrations of learning offer parents term-time visibility. Parents tell us that learning is very different from their own school days but that it works; children are motivated and engaged in a curious way.
A learning support team, counsellor and onsite educational psychologist give support on a case-by-case basis, as capacity allows.
The BML programme, that’s bilingual and multilingual no less, is offered through two levels: additional or intensive English. In this latter programme, students receive up to 22 sessions a week joining their peers in mainstream classes for art, music and maths.
This is a very multicultural school, 50% of all IB diplomas are bilingual. Adapted annually to the cohort, previous offerings have included Dutch, Russian, Polish, Tamil, French and Japanese. English classes are even available to parents.
Games, Arts and Options
Ask any expat parent in Singapore about sports at Nexus and they’ll all say swimming. A significant part of the campus spend surely went into the aquatics centre, complete with Olympic sized pool, Omega touchpads, warm up pool and land training studios. It gets put to good use: the elite swim team feature highly in national and international rankings and parents trip over themselves to help their own little merlions win a place in the coveted swim team. You don’t turn the invitation down.
The Fifa and world rugby-specified astro turf pitch, visible from many parts of the school building, comes complete with a parent viewing deck. A good range of sports on offer and while some parents tell us that 'teams are perhaps not the most competitive' the school assures us that there are plenty of wins across key sports. The overarching approach though is to encourage student participation across both favourite and new sports. A few parental mutterings over the use of iPads even within PE lessons, for timing and videoing apparently, but we say that when one of your student triathletes develops a brilliant concept for edible water bottles perhaps you are onto something with this digitally innovative approach.
Maker spaces and DT labs are found in each year group and incorporated into learning every day. Jam rooms, recording studios, mixing decks; inspiration encouraged for the much-loved annual Nexus Beats concert. Even music provides another opportunity for ‘lessons without walls’; bands and musicians often heard practising in the school reception area.
The 90-strong CCA programme is similarly packed with hands-on, no walls activities; race car engineering; create a vertical garden or even build your own skate park. They are an innovative lot, these Nexus students.
Background and Atmosphere
A relatively young school, founded in 2011, Nexus really caught attention when it moved into its 12-storey futuristic campus in 2020; literally a purpose-built school, teachers and staff were invited to design their ideal space. Ideas were sourced globally, tested in the old campus, where they really did take a sledgehammer to the walls, and then refined. Students are now completing the painting of the merlion (symbol of Singapore) mural wall. A great team effort.
The student body has tripled in size; capacity could see it double again. The school and parents all assure us the Nexus family spirit remains and that it is ‘a small school in disguise’, in a good way. Children walk that little bit taller now that their school campus is the one coveted by many.
A design intention was to bring the school community together: early learning and primary years on the lower floors, secondary years up high, meeting in the middle for shared facilities including the canteen and outdoor play decks. Outdoor play spaces in the middle of a building? Yes, really, and done very well complete with sandpits and climbing frames, even a herb garden. Other enticing play areas also exist back at ground level.
This middle of the building, indoor/outdoor vibe continues with the school canteen. Children can choose to eat inside with air conditioning, or out without. Perhaps unfamiliar decisions to new families, but a very popular one here in Singapore. Teachers also share this canteen, for eating and as a coffee shop style workspace for their own studying.
Pupils and Parents
Nexus families hail from the world over with 55+ nationalities represented here. British families tally around 20%, Australian and Chinese families not far behind at 12% and 8% at present.
Children tell us it’s a happy school and that they love it here; wouldn’t you if you could choose whether today was a bean bag or a window seat day? Parents say the school has a genuinely inclusive feeling and that their children ‘belong’ here.
The Nexus parent group galvanises the community; swim gala barbeques, the sausage rolls are legendary, coffee mornings and social events. The school runs parent workshops to introduce new families to each other and ‘The Nexus Way’. The parent eco-café is an enviable post-drop-off coffee spot and the soon-to-be-opened parent lounge and workspace will surely see off any local co-working spaces.
Pastoral Care and Discipline
Nexus employs a restorative approach. Coaching, mentoring and student agency are top of the agenda. Students are encouraged to think about their own actions; it’s a reparative rather than punitive climate here. Parents, many of whom are new to this approach, are quickly buying into it and tell us that their children grow in confidence in this environment.
Though an IB school (which would typically use "grades"), here children are placed into 'year groups' which the school feels makes the new pupil feel less like he/she is stepping backwards (year 2 = 1st grade). Primary school covers nursery through to year 6 and secondary, year 7 to 13.
The super slick new campus has created space to fill. Another 1,000 places to be precise, though waitlists are beginning to form in the more popular year groups. Sibling discounts are available even on just two children. Academic and swimming scholarships offer between 25% and 100% off tuition fees for two years at a time.
‘Where do your students go?’ ‘Anywhere they like!’ Our best answer yet from a school. Graduates from the last two cohorts have gone on to study in the UK (eg London School of Economics, University of York), Singapore (Nanyang Technology University), Europe, USA and Canada.
Nexus and its sister school in Malaysia are both owned by Taylor's Education Group, a private company based in Malaysia. School fees are considered in the mid range for Singapore international schools.
Innovative and trendy but very student friendly. This is a school which is intent on creating global citizens and entrepreneurs of the future through an international curriculum, a huge helping of technology and a strong sense of belief. You’ve got to be in it to win it.
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