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Q+A: Tanglin Trust School, Singapore

Q+A: Tanglin Trust School, Singapore

Tanglin Trust School, comprising the Infant, Primary and Senior Schools, has been providing British-based education to the international community in Singapore for over 90 years. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a virtual tour...

What happens when parents visit the school?

We would always encourage parents to visit our school as part of their decision-making process. We conduct individual appointments where a member of our Admissions Team will be happy to take you on a personalised tour of the school, answer any of your questions and outline the admissions process.

We also conduct Open House events each term for prospective families to find out more about Tanglin, tour the school and meet teachers and students. This is a great opportunity to hear first-hand from students and senior leaders.

How old is the school and how many students do you have?

In 2015 we celebrated the school’s 90th Anniversary (T90) in Singapore. The school was founded by Anne Griffith-Jones OBE in 1925, with just five students.

Today, Tanglin provides a unique learning environment to 2,770 students from Nursery right through to Sixth Form.

Why should I send my child to your school?

A Tanglin education not only prepares students to go on to study at top universities around the world but ensures students become well-rounded, independent and curious learners who are proud of their achievements, are excited about their futures and are prepared for jobs not yet created.

Can you give me a breakdown of where your students come from?

We have a diverse and international student body. We currently have 57 different nationalities studying at the school.

How large are the classes in your school?

The average class size is 15–24 students, depending on the year group.

What accreditations do you have?

We are assessed within the British Schools Overseas (BSO) framework, recognised by Ofsted. All three schools have been awarded Outstanding, the highest possible grade.

Our Infant School is also the first school in Asia to be awarded the Early Years Quality Mark and the Primary (Infant) Quality Mark.

We have also been awarded the Historical Association Silver Quality Mark, the Geographical Association Gold Quality Mark and the Primary Science Gold Quality Mark, in recognition of the excellent provision and exceptional standards we offer our students in the Junior School.  

As our Infant and Junior Schools are members of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), an association for headteachers of leading prep schools throughout the world, we have received the prestigious kite mark of quality.

What facilities do you offer? E.g. sports, music, arts

Throughout the three schools, the buildings feature large multi-purpose assembly and sporting halls, music rooms, indoor performance theatres, Information Technology suites, drama studios and science laboratories. Each school also has its own well-resourced library and health centre. Additional facilities include an eight-lane swimming pool, large outdoor sporting grounds, canteens, a future-learning room and state-of-the-art media technology suites. 

What curriculum do you follow?

In the Infant and Junior Schools, the English National Curriculum provides the basis for the programmes of study, which are enhanced and enriched to reflect the school’s international setting.

In the Senior School, we offer (I)GCSE, A Levels and the IB Diploma.

How have you adapted the curriculum to suit your location/country?

An example of this is in the Humanities in the Junior School, where the studies undertaken are deliberately chosen to reflect both our geographical location and our historical ties to the UK.

Regular visiting experts and field trips, ranging from Sentosa to the deepest rainforests of Borneo, augment our curriculum. So, whether it is simulating an archaeological Roman dig in Year 3, proposing why Pulau Ubin should or should not be named 'island paradise of the year' in Year 4, being educated in a Victorian-style classroom in Year 5 or reporting back from Sarawak on the plight of the rainforests in Year 6, our children find out about the world and its history.

What is your teaching philosophy?

High academic standards are a key driving force of the school. However, equally important, is developing in our students the skills to be lifelong learners, to make a meaningful contribution to the community and to lead rewarding and happy lives.

We recognise that for students to thrive they need to be inspired, enthused, challenged and supported in all that they do.

What is the background of your teaching staff?

Teachers are British or Commonwealth trained and experienced.

How have your pupils performed in examinations in recent years?

We are very proud of our students' achievements.

In the Infant and Junior Schools, most children are ahead of expectations as they journey on into the Junior and Senior Schools respectively.

In the Senior School our IB average in 2016 was 38.1 (the highest grade point average in Singapore amongst international schools). 92% of A Level grades were in the range of A* to C, with 42% of grades at A* or A. Both A Level and the IB Diploma had a 100% pass rate.

Many of our students secure their first choice at top universities around the world, including Oxford, Cambridge and the Ivy League.

What is the teaching programme in your Sixth Form?

Tanglin is unique amongst international schools in Singapore in offering both A Levels and International Baccalaureate in Sixth Form.

In addition to specific subjects, IB students also write an Extended Essay (EE) and follow a critical thinking course called Theory of Knowledge (TOK).

Complementing their A Level choices, students studying these courses also take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), similar to the IB Extended Essay.

All Sixth Form students must participate in the school’s Creativity Activity Service (CAS) programme.

What links do you have with other schools?

As members of The Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA), Tanglin’s community benefits from taking part in competitive games with other international schools, student-focussed events, such as the Model United Nations, and professional development for staff.

We are also members of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), an association for Headteachers of leading prep schools throughout the world. Links to an international association allows members to share best practice and take advantage of continuing professional development opportunities to the benefit of both pupils and teachers alike.

Do you offer a wide range of field trips?

In the Infant School children are introduced to the world around them through opportunities outside the classroom with day trips in Singapore.

In the Junior School, programmes to Malaysia and Indonesia allow students to use skills in a different environment, while also increasing their cultural awareness.

Senior year group programmes range from exciting adventure trips to optional discovery programmes across the world.

Do you do much work in the community?

At Tanglin, we encourage our students to be responsible global citizens.

From as early as Infant School, children develop relationships with local schools with ongoing play dates and concerts.

The Junior School has local year group charities as well as the whole school charity “Lend with Care”. These allow children to explore altruistic behaviour and acts of compassion first-hand.

A Level and IB Diploma students participate in the school’s Creativity Activity Service (CAS) programme, which provides opportunities for independently managed, experiential learning beyond the curriculum. As an extension to this, students from Years 10–13 are able to apply to the TTS Foundation for an award to help fund self-initiated service projects in the region.

Tanglin also actively encourages teachers to support and engage with projects beyond school such as ‘Caring for Cambodia’, a project committed to the development of teacher training in the area.

What languages do you offer?

Chinese is offered in the Infant and Junior Schools.

In the Senior School, we teach French, Mandarin and Spanish in lessons and have clubs in Greek, German, Dutch, Hindi, Japanese and Danish.

Do you have a mother-tongue programme?

We believe that it is essential to provide assistance to and raise the profile of those students who speak a non-English language at home on a regular basis.

In the Senior School, we have a two-tiered mother-tongue programme:

  • For French, Mandarin and Spanish, we support students who speak these languages by offering them time within the curriculum to pursue mother-tongue language lessons with paid tutors.
  • We have set up weekly after-school or lunchtime classes for Dutch, Danish, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian and Japanese. Some teachers are voluntary parents, others are paid tutors.

We are currently developing programmes in the Infant and Junior Schools.

How do you actively support students in maintaining their mother tongue?

Alongside tailored lessons, we celebrate mother-tongue languages in many other ways. We host a ‘Mother Tongue Day’, have a network of parent-volunteers who represent their language culture within school and Language Community Representatives who help new families settle in. The library’s mother-tongue collection continues to grow.

How can parents get involved?

Parents of Infant and Junior children are often invited to spend time in the classroom and to go on school trips; additionally, throughout the year we have a series of open sessions where children share their learning with their parents.

We also have an active and vibrant Parent Teacher Association (PTA), which strengthens the bond that holds our community together through an annual calendar of community events, from the Christmas Fair to the Summer Fete, and social events for the students such as year group discos.

Do parents come in and help with reading?

Yes! There are lots of opportunities for parents to come in and help in the Infant and Junior Schools.

How often are parents invited to parents’ evenings?

Parents are invited to more formal Parent Teacher Conferences twice a year in the Infant and Junior Schools.

In the Senior School, we have one Parent Teacher Student Conference per year for Years 7–10, and two conferences per year for Years 11–13.

How often do parents receive written reports?

Nursery and Reception parents can access their child’s Interactive Learning Diary every day and receive a full summative report at the end of the academic year.

In Years 1–6, progress reports are sent at the end of Term 1. Attainment against end-of-year expectations are reported in a detailed end-of-year report.

Progress reports are sent home every term in the Senior School, with full reports for Years 7–10 once per year.

Do you offer parent workshops relating to what the children are doing? (such as EAL, Grade 5 exhibition)

We offer workshops, courses and presentations for parents. Our ParentWise programme provides support, ideas and information for all our parents, including Educational and Curriculum support, Parent Wellbeing and Hot Button Issues.

Some examples include learning-support workshops, helping children to manage the digital world, understanding the legal implications of drugs and alcohol abuse among teenagers in Singapore and strategies to engage children in the wonder of science.

What opportunities exist for parents to speak to their child's teachers should they have any worries or concerns?

We encourage close home-school links with open communication lines between parents and teachers. As such, we have an open door policy in that teachers are always available to meet with parents at a mutually convenient time throughout the year, and discuss any concerns they may have.

What extra-curricular activities do you offer in the Senior School?

We offer a wide range of active, competitive and creative co-curricular activities (CCAs) in the Senior School. These range from pilates and table tennis to masterchef and debating club.

We participate in SEASAC (South East Asia Student Activity Conference), FOBISIA (Federation of British Schools in Asia) and ACSIS (Athletic Conference of Singapore International Schools), as well as sporting tours to Australia.

What extra-curricular activities do you offer across the school?

We currently offer 170 co-curricular activities (CCAs).

In the Infant School, children can participate in the taster choir, music ensembles and swimming academy.

In the Junior and Senior Schools, we offer a range of competitive, recreational and creative CCAs, including Chinese chess, masterchef, karate, rock climbing, sound design and breakdancing.  

As with the Senior School, we participate in SEASAC (South East Asia Student Activity Conference), FOBISIA (Federation of British Schools in Asia) and ACSIS (Athletic Conference of Singapore International Schools).

Do you offer the Duke of Edinburgh Awards?

We offer the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA), a world-wide recognised award for young adults aged 14-24.

We also offer the High Commissioner’s Award (HCA), a voluntary co-curricular activity which focuses on collaboration, philanthropy, enterprise, teamwork and community awareness.

The Gold Programme is open to Year 5 and the Platinum Programme is available to our Year 6 students.

Do you offer Brownies/Guides/Cubs?

The school’s sports and recreation clubs (SRC) include Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts.

What performing arts opportunities do students have?

  • Music – students of all abilities can partake, with activities ranging from choirs and bands to DJ clubs. High-quality music performances take place across Singapore as well as internationally.
  • Dance – we have a student-led resident dance company which runs classes to strengthen choreography skills and performance techniques in a range of styles.
  • Drama – alongside big productions, we also focus on intimate drama pieces. In early 2017, we hosted a three-day ISTA Drama Festival, bringing 150 students to Tanglin from across Asia.

Our inspiring visitor workshops, in all areas of performing arts, enable students to learn from professionals, enhancing their work within the curriculum.

Do you have a school choir?

Each school has a choir for all students who enjoy singing. Our Junior and Senior School also have a chamber choir, a more advanced choir for students wishing to perform more challenging music. By audition only.

Do you have a school orchestra?

We have a Senior Orchestra open to all students who can play an orchestral instrument. We also have an advanced group for students who can play at a higher level. By audition only.

How important are the Arts in your school?

Tanglin has a thriving, vibrant and energetic Arts programme, with a variety of creative and collaborative opportunities available to our students. Throughout the year, there are some very high-quality ensembles, recitals, performances and exhibitions.

Is there a school bus service?

We have a popular door-to-door bus service. There are also Activity Buses which cater for students participating in the school's Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs) and a Seniors Bus.

Do you have a cafeteria?

There are three student canteens throughout the school. There is also a community café with a play area for young children.

Do you have a wide range of food options?

The school’s caterer designs balanced and nutritious menus with a range of Western and Asian food available, including Halal.

How do parents pay if they want children to take school meals?

All Infant children bring in packed lunches. Lunches and snacks for Junior children are pre-ordered and paid for online. Senior students use a pre-paid card system.

Do you have a ‘House’ system?

The House system in the Junior and Senior Schools contributes enormously to the feeling of integration and belonging. Special House Days, social and sporting events and competitions throughout the year focus on team building and relationships, creating bonds across age groups and a sense of continuity. These occasions also provide opportunities for leadership and responsibility, perhaps as House Captain, team leader or a role model.

Do you arrange for guest speakers, such as authors and experts to come to the school?

As an extension to the curriculum, the TTS Foundation funds exceptional opportunities in four key areas: Development of Life Skills; Participation in Creative Arts and Sports; Engagement with Global Issues and Inspirational Visitors. Visitors range from musicians, storytellers, authors and theatrical groups, to film directors and sports men and women, to expose children to incredible experiences over and above the curriculum.

All images courtesy of Tanglin Trust School.

To view Tanglin Trust School's profile on Winter's, please go to this link.

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