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Large Schools vs Small Schools – Which suits your child best?

One size does not fit all when it comes to education. In Singapore, there are international schools of all sizes, ranging from the large mega schools with capacity for more than 4,000 students to schools that only accept a few hundred students, often by intention.

The school-searching journey can be challenging and tedious (please also refer to our guide on ‘How to Choose an International School That’s Right for Your Child’). School size – small, medium or mega, is a key factor to your child(ren)’s learning experience, therefore an important consideration in your decision making process. Both large and small schools have their own advantages. Let’s check it out!

Advantages of Small Schools

  1. Strong personal relationships and deep social connections are at the heart of small schools.
    • Students know each other, even across grades, fostering a stronger sense of community and citizenship. This sets the foundation for holistic character development, including important social and emotional skills. With a tighter community and closer supervision, instances of bullying and other tensions are also less likely.
    • Teachers know every student, and are well connected with each other, which enables them to collaborate across departments to better understand the needs of each individual student (not just the ones in their homeroom or department) to personalize the delivery of their lessons to each child.
    • It is a less intimidating environment, which can help some students settle in after having transferred from a different country or school.
  2. High levels of teacher and parent engagement
    • Teachers and leadership teams are able to work more closely with you (the parents) to support the learning journey of your child(ren)
    • Parents will naturally also be closer connected to teachers and leadership, without having to compete with other parents for leadership or teacher time and attention. They will receive more timely, personalised feedback that they can then use as they nurture their child at home.
  3. Community Spirit
    • Smaller schools find it easier to foster the ‘close-knit community’ and ‘everyone knows everyone’ feel, allowing for a stronger sense of belonging and closer bonds with other members of the school.
    • Small student numbers can also help in fostering closer, lifelong friendships with greater opportunities for shared experiences.
  4. School Management and Communication
    • With fewer layers of leadership (e.g. Heads of Schools, Deputy Heads, Principals, Deputy Principals, Department Heads…), similar to other organizations, teachers will have better access to top leadership, allowing them to better share in the vision and direction of the school, and obtain valuable feedback for professional development. They are not just another cog in the wheel. This, along with tighter connections with other teachers, can foster better job satisfaction, which in turn translates to better outcomes for students. Simultaneously, when leaders know every teacher, they will be able to better manage teacher performance, ensuring that your child is in the good hands of the best teachers .
    • Smaller schools also experience less bureaucracy. This means that teachers can have more flexibility in personalising teaching experiences (without having to go through multiple layers of leadership), adding to the element of spontaneity, increasing student engagement. There will also be less competition for the most popular clubs, ECAs or after school activities, enabling students to access a broader range of experiences and opportunities that they otherwise may or may not get in larger schools

Advantages of Large Schools

  1. A greater variety of academic programmes and extra-curricular activities
    • Schools with large student populations are able to offer a broader base of programmes and activities because of the higher likelihood that there is sufficient interest in specific subjects and activities to make the offering of them viable (take Classical Latin for example).
  2. Ability to invest in larger facilities with modern equipment and purpose built learning environments
  3. Increased breadth of expertise and skillsets among staff
    • A large cohort of teachers and specialists (e.g. social-emotional counsellors, university and career coaches) enables the school to meet the many needs of students in-house.
  4. Diverse experiences among students
    • A larger student population means more opportunities for your child to make more friends, meet peers from different backgrounds, and be part of larger and multiple social groups – a key influence of social-emotional development.
  5. Brand recognition and prestige

The Just Right School

What if you could have the best of both worlds? A school which offers the advantages of both small and large schools. A school large enough to offer many opportunities and top notch facilities, but small enough to know each student by name, where students can benefit from strong academics, personalised learning, world-class facilities and a warm, diverse, connected community.

XCL World Academy is a community-orientated international school in Singapore for students aged 2 to 18. Small class sizes with inspiring and highly qualified teachers trained in the International Baccalaureate pedagogy enable your child to define their own pathway and reach their maximum potential. Our modern campus features many state-of-the-art facilities, and is only 20 mins drive from downtown Singapore. As an IB full-through school, adhering strongly to the principles of the International Baccalaureate programme, we equip your child with essential academic and life skills which prepare them for the demands and rigours of further study and employment. We have capped our school capacity to ~1,600, which we believe above which a school could risk losing its community and small school feel. We have also placed internal nationality caps to ensure that the school remains diverse. Currently, no single nationality today comprises more than 15% of the school’s population.

The mission of XCL World Academy is to empower an inclusive international community of happy learners who aspire to positively impact others.. We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in our care. Expect your child to make friends with children from all over the globe (we have over 60 countries represented in our student body). Your child will experience an entire world of cultures, right here at our school.

At XCL World Academy, we equip children with the academic and lifelong learning skills to be agents of their own success – helping to prepare them for further education, future careers as well as navigating the opportunities and challenges they will encounter in their lives.

At the end of the day, the most important litmus test is that your child feels comfortable, safe, and confident in school. We invite you to contact us to speak to our educators who can help you through this decision.

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