Singapore: a global education at the centre of the world

Singapore is an island blessed with tradition, culture and a firm focus on the future. Its reputation for innovation is attracting global businesses from every sector, making it an exciting place to live, work and learn.

Fiona Murchie catches up with Andre Casson, Head of School, The Australian International School (AIS), to find out how as one of Singapore’s more prestigious and well-respected international schools it is preparing students from all over the world for successful futures.The Australian International School is located at the very heart of Singapore. With its connections already making Singapore one of the great crossroads of the world, The Australian International School is equally well placed to bring out the best of the mix of cultures, languages and learning experiences inherent to such a location.

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“Singapore is a destination I love very much,” says Andre Casson. “There are a million expatriates on the island and a great synergy between locals and us as expats. It truly is an international destination. The other wonderful thing is that it is in the centre of the world. It is well connected to Europe, the US and the rest of Asia. It really is an international destination that encompasses so many cultures.”

A child-centred education in Singapore

Students at the Australian International School, which is located on an impressive 1km-long campus encompassing a nursery that caters for young infants up to pre-school age, elementary and secondary students, as well as green spaces and sports facilities, represent 43 countries.
AIS Singapore campus
The Australian International School campus in Singapore
“Ours is a school where a family can bring all their children to the same place,” says Andre Casson, adding that it is normal in Singapore for education to start at a young age. “Everything we have is catered for individual students and specifically for each year group.“It does make life so much easier when parents can come to the bus and put their children of all ages on it. The other aspect to this is that the younger children aspire to do what the big kids do and that inspires them and permeates through the whole school.”

Experiential and classroom learning

This, along with its location at the heart of one of the most dynamic economies in the world, brings incredible opportunities for learning, both inside and out of school.“Here in Singapore where STEAM [science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths] is very much a part of the day-to-day life, you do need to make sure you are presenting opportunities to students to say well ahead,” says Andre Casson.
“It is an exciting time to be here. The island is piloting the introduction of driverless busses. Our students have the opportunity to see these opportunities happening in real time and in front of us, which brings up the concepts we share as part of our curriculum.”

Innovation, curiosity and the classroom connection

Linking experiences like these out of school to the classroom is seamless at The Australian International School. iPads and laptops are used throughout the school for everyday learning, while resources like age-appropriate innovation labs allow children to explore their experiences and be curious about what they are seeing and learning.“Even though we offer different curricula, all have the common themes of inquiry and collaboration,” says Andre Casson. “These are all part of what we can do with an AIS education.”

A multi-curricular approach

The school has a flexible curriculum that blends the Australian Early Development milestones into the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). The IB PYP’s international transferable philosophy of education in Years 3-5 (equivalent to Years 4-6 in the English National Curriculum) is delivered based on content from the Australian National Curriculum.In Years 9 and 10 (equivalent to English Years 10-11), students follow IGCSE courses, with Years 11 and 12 (equivalent to English Years 12-13) offered two pathways; the Australian High School Certificate (HSC) and the IB Diploma.
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Students at AIS achieve extraordinary results. 2020 was one of the school’s most successful years and students head to top universities all over the world, including Stamford and Oxford universities.
AIS Singapore students playing violin
Yet AIS understands that academic success is the result of a range of factors. “One of the things about schools I’m involved with or run is that we are never going to be focused on academic results, scoreboard achievements or trophies in the cabinet,” says Andre Casson. “We are about the well-rounded student.”“We have three values of achievement, respect and opportunity. The opportunity means that every student needs to have the chance to be great at what they are great at. A well-rounded student is someone who is going to have so much more success. Every aspect of a child’s personality and every aspect of a child’s education is central to what we do here at AIS.”Watch the replay for the webinar Singapore as an Education Destination with Andre Casson, Head of School, The Australian International School (AIS) in conversation with Fiona Murchie.

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