MISSION To maintain a happy, safe and
effective school for overseas
families living in Singapore
Overseas Family School (OFS) offers an inquiry-based program within a multicultural environment to students aged 2 to 19:
Pre-Kindergarten & Kindergarten
(Pre-K1 to K2)
Age 2-5
Elementary School
(Grades 1 to 5)
Age 6-10
Middle School
(Grades 6 to 8)
Age 11-13
Junior High School
(Grades 9 and 10)
Age 14-15
Senior High School
(Grades 11 and 12)
Age 16-18

Overseas Family School (OFS), in its 25th year as a Singapore Foreign System School.

Partners for 
a brighter future

As well as providing an all-round education for each of its students, OFS greatly values its long lasting bonds with students and their parents.

As the school Chairman regularly explains to meetings of new parents in the school hall:

Our school is a service provider for overseas families living in Singapore, in a professional partnership with parents. Parents are the senior partners in the relationship, on all matters affecting their child. The school provides professional advice and parents make final decisions.

OFS has an “open entry policy”, under which it enrolls students without pre-entry tests or reference to previous school reports. This policy supports the school belief that with proper motivation, and freedom from excess criticism and discipline, all students have potential to exceed previous academic performances. Happy students perform much better than strongly disciplined students.

OFS also has an “open examination policy” under which all students are encouraged and assisted to prepare for and sit internal and international examinations.

Having completed 25 years as an international school serving the overseas community in Singapore, the role of the school goes beyond educational needs. Overseas families quickly feel at home here, with international connections in the OFS multi-national community.

OFS Kindergarten and Elementary School academic programmes are based on the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), with significant Intellectual Development from Mother Tongue languages (MT), advanced Chess coaching and computerized Math Coding.

OFS Middle School teaches the first three years of two five-year programmes. International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).

OFS Junior High School’s academic program is the final two years of the ‘International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP), and at the end of year ten, sit the British examination ‘International General Certificate of Secondary Education’ (IGCSE).

OFS Graduation Diploma, is granted to Grade 12 students at a school graduation ceremony in the school hall, in academic gowns and caps. This is an opportunity for parents and grandparents to celebrate the achievement. The OFS Diploma is based on internal OFS examinations, on satisfactory completion of four years High School, under US accreditation granted to OFS in 1992 by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) based in California.

OFS Senior High School’s academic program also includes the externally examined ‘International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, providing entry to prestigious English speaking universities throughout the world.

OFS policies are derived from positive belief in young peoples’ potential to far exceed expectations of traditional approaches based on discipline and performance based streaming.

New campus is bigger and better

OFS first started in September 1991 at the former Singapore Teacher Training College TTC in centrally located Paterson Road, a temporary site until 2015, when government needed the site for train-track development.

OFS moved into its newly built campus at 81 Pasir Ris Heights in June 2015, with classes commencing there in August 2015. The new school development has been called the school design of the future, with unique features designed to support advanced student learning.

OFS’ new campus was designed for maximum safety and security for students, staff, parents and visitors. Government approved capacity of the new campus is 4,800 students, and currently about 3,000 students attend OFS. Space is available.

OFS’ security systems commenced in August 2001, when entry to the school property was controlled by OFS issued photo ID badges for senior high students, parents, teachers and staff. Regulation school uniforms provide entry for younger students. Visitors present their photo ID at the front gate, or justify entry to senior security officers, trained to be polite but firm in their responsibility for school security.

Communicating with language proficiency

The focus on language to support its multinational community

OFS places a strong emphasis on language skills. While English is the language of instruction at OFS, at least a third of OFS students do not have English as their first language, and joined the school with different levels of proficiency.

OFS therefore provides a three-level Study Preparation Program (SPP) aimed at enabling students to join mainstream classes as quickly as possible. SPP classes teach students the academic English of their subjects in classes appropriate for their age level, conducted by qualified language teachers. This is a high intensity program, also designed to develop strong study habits and skills.

OFS recently expanded its Mother Tongue program to now include 14 international languages. The OFS definition of Mother Tongue is the “original language learned naturally in the cradle”. Recent research indicates that when young students change their language of instruction by learning a new language, mother tongue ability declines, which temporarily reduces their intellect.

OFS Mother Tongue (MT) program is unique in the world, designed to further develop the MT while young students also learn new languages. We have qualified teachers who teach their own MT, and are fluent in English for OFS communication.

The Overseas Family School offers regular MT classes in 14 languages, from Kindergarten through to Grade 8. These classes are integrated into the program for three or four hours per week.

The 14 languages offered are:

  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Norwegian
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish

OFS Language learning

Students not requiring either the SPP program or the MT program, study a second language normally chosen from French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Mandarin or Spanish. Languages are added or suspended according to demand. Teachers are all qualified to teach these languages.

Do you know?

Check out these ten less-known facts about OFS

  1. OFS is a mercury free campus. To protect young minds, considerable effort was made during construction of the new school facilities, to ensure that no mercury was introduced onto the campus at any time and in any form.
  2. The sheltered sports area is large enough for five full sized basketball courts plus space for spectators or extra sporting activities.
  3. Underground Parking. Level B1 bus bay is large enough for 120 buses, and level B2 car parking has space for 500 plus cars. Access to and from the parking bays is by a row of six escalators.
  4. Access to Elementary School, is by three escalators from a large Atrium outside the Auditorium.
  5. Kindergarten is located on the lower floors of the Junior block past the Kinder swimming pool.
  6. Each of eight music rooms has four small practice rooms attached, acoustically treated and soundproofed, where soloists or small groups can isolate themselves from the main group for practice, without disturbing other classes.
  7. The School Auditorium has a new full size Steinway grand piano for the use of serious piano students and for quality music concerts and performances.
  8. Spacious, well equipped Science labs for students in Elementary School, Middle School, and High School.
  9. The Parents’ Lounge on level four of the Administration block, with a capacity of up to around 500 people, is available for parents to mix and mingle, and can be turned into an event venue for festive or cultural events organized by the Parent Association.
  10. The changing and rest rooms near the indoor, all weather 50m x 35m swimming pool can accommodate approximately 200 students at any one time.
2

The campus

SENIOR BLOCK
  • 2 Activity Rooms
  • 2 Libraries
    (Middle School Library and High School Library)
  • 14 Science Labs
  • 4 Computer Labs
  • 7 Music Rooms
  • 6 Art Rooms
  • 4 Drama Rooms
  • 4 Technology Labs
JUNIOR BLOCK
  • 7 Activity Rooms
  • 2 Libraries
    (Kindergarten Library and Elementary School Library)
  • 2 Science Labs
  • 1 Computer Lab (Kindergarten)
  • 4 Music Rooms
  • 3 Art Rooms
  • 1 Gymnastics Room
  • 1 Cooking Room
  • 1 Chess Room
  • 1 Math-Coding Room

2.1

There is a library each for Kindergarten, Elementary School, Middle School and High School. All four libraries house over 200,000 books.

2.2

The 2,400-seater multi-purpose Auditorium is where various events take place, from concerts to inter-school competitions.

2.3

The 112-seater Black Box Theatre with state-of-the-art audio-visual and lighting facilities and retractable tiered seating is used for theatre and drama classes.

2.4

Chess classes are held in the spacious Chess Room with 80 tables that can accommodate 160 players.

2.5

There are two swimming pools — an indoor Olympic-sized 50m swimming pool with 10 lanes, and a junior pool for Kindergarten children. The pools have a constant depth for safety reasons and to accommodate more classes at the same time.

2.6

Besides two synthetic grass fields that are laid with organic rice, cork and coconut husk in-fills instead of black rubber, there are also five covered Basketball/Netball courts which are equipped with full-spectrum LED flood lighting for night games and tournaments.

2.7

Nine Activity Rooms, each measuring about 500 sq m, can accommodate 500 people for group lessons and activities.

2.8

The Computer Room for Math-Coding classes is well-equipped with 67 computer stations and Apple iMac computers.

2.9

There are a total of 16 Science labs across the Elementary, Middle and High Schools.

2.10

Three Studios, each spanning 250 sq m, are equipped with sprung flooring and acoustically treated walls. One of them comes with dance mirrors (pictured).

3

When school feels like home
Students, teachers and parents from all over
the world share their enriching experiences
at Overseas Family School

Conducive
and
supportive
environment
- Ms Kate Ward, 30, K2 lead teacher, Australia

What I love most about teaching at OFS is its rich diversity of cultures during my four years here. Take my class of 20, which has students of eight nationalities.

Our pedagogy is very individualised. We discuss with the children on what they want to learn, and plan our activities and curriculum around International Primary Curriculum units.

For example, our last lesson unit was Celebrations Around The World, and each child shared his or her background and experiences with the class.

I find that by creating a welcoming environment, it particularly benefits young children who have relocated. We make them feel happy and safe, and encourage them to be themselves.

I once had a five-year-old Japanese student who did not speak any English when she joined my class. But given support and encouragement, she managed to pick up the language within a year and it made her so happy. It was an amazing experience for me.

Vibrant
exchange of
ideas

I’ve been teaching visual art at OFS for two decades and my passion lies in art history.

I enjoy teaching students from Grade 6 to 8, and seeing their art skills and ideas develop over time.

For me, it’s about getting the best out of them. Our lessons are always a discussion, and I don’t dictate them.

There is a vibrant exchange of ideas and knowledge between students and teachers. This is especially so when most students here are widely travelled and they bring many ideas from their travel experiences into the art room.

To support our students’ artistic endeavours, we hold an annual week-long music, art and drama festival called MAD (Music, Art and Drama). Having a chance to showcase their work encourages them to be risk-takers and to just get on stage and shine.

It is a joy when they do well and graduate, and especially heart-warming when many of them return to visit.

Another reason why I love teaching at OFS is the continuing and indispensable support from the ancillary staff — the cleaners whom we all, including students, address as aunties and uncles, the reliable Maintenance Crew members who are always on hand to fix things that don’t work, the team of carpenters who build props for school productions, special props for my annual art exhibition, make all the display boards around the school, etc, and also the IT team who produces and designs our Visual Arts posters for MAD Week and our school concerts. This ‘other family’ is really the ‘enabler’ of the school.

- Mrs Rosalind Budge, Grade 6 to 8 visual art teacher, Australia

Encouraging
and
supportive
teachers

We are all one big family here. Our small-class sizes mean more of us get to participate during lessons and bond better with our teachers who engage us through video sessions, group discussions and presentations.

Miss Aida, who was my personal project supervisor, has been my pillar of support. It was with her encouragement that I joined the International Baccalaureate Academic Honesty Film Competition and won the grand prize this year.

I like the holistic learning approach here as it goes beyond just academics. On top of being the student president of the high school, I’m also a member of the cross-country and journalism clubs. I’m involved in so many extra-curricular activities because I enjoy pushing myself and keeping busy.

I’m motivated to do more when my work is appreciated, such as the time when my documentary video featuring our old school at Paterson Road was shown at the opening of our new campus here.

- Melissa Lam, 17, Grade 12 student, Canada

Overcoming
language
barriers

When I first enrolled in this school, I couldn’t speak English and felt lost and disheartened.

After my academic adviser recommended that I join the Study Preparation Programme (SPP), I started to pick up the language and enjoy the classes as I became friends with other newcomers.

There were students of various nationalities, all learning English for the first time together.

Everyone was patient and friendly. The SPP teachers were very caring and they encouraged us to have our own points of view on a variety of issues. The lessons certainly helped to hone my critical thinking skills.

Studying at OFS has opened my eyes to new exciting experiences and I treasure the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world. I feel that this is the best place to practise my English.

- Song Han Sheng, 17, Grade 12 student, China

Boost of
confidence

On top of my own research, I chose OFS on the recommendation of my colleague, who was impressed by the school’s curriculum, faculty, teaching and facilities after enrolling his child here.

Today, I can attest to his good review.

I like the school’s philosophy of teaching as the teachers are open-minded and always encourage their students to have their own points of view. My hope is for my kids to pick up learning skills, nurture their sense of curiosity and grow up to be open-minded global citizens.

I’ve noticed vast improvements in them. My daughter, who used to be shy, has opened up due to the exposure the school has given her through various activities.

The extension programmes have been effective too. My son is in the math programme, which hones his math skills, while my daughter is in the reading one, which she enjoys learning through songs.

- Ms Sheng Liu, 40, customer analytics manager, United States

In step with
progress

I’ve been in Singapore with my family for six months and choosing to enrol my kids in OFS is the best decision I’ve made.

They were previously enrolled in another school, but I decided to switch them to OFS, thanks to its good language classes and patient teachers.

I’m drawn to the bilingual programme, ample lesson tools and teachers with good attitudes.

The daily personal updates on their progress from my kids’ teachers have made me feel assured about their progress in school.

Teachers also encourage parents to volunteer in class —an opportunity to play a part in their growth and development.

The best thing your kids can tell you is that they love going to school. And mine have told me that. I find that they enjoy making friends with classmates from all over the world and learn the right values at the same time.

I would definitely recommend this school to others.

- Ms Lital Shoshan Idel, 33, marketing and business development consultant, Israel

Personal
touch
Ms Helen Rosario, 48, engineer, with her daughter, Laura, Puerto Rico

We chose OFS as we were looking for a place full of diversity, which is what we love about Singapore. Although I want my daughter to excel academically, I also want her to enjoy the beautiful experience of having friends from around the world, build good personal relationships and value different perspectives and cultures.

At first, we were concerned that she would find it difficult to adapt to a new environment. But the personal touch that the school offers makes me feel like everyone here is family.

Besides prompt responses to our e-mail queries, the teachers also provide weekly reports on our child’s progress.

I appreciate that parents are encouraged to do homework with their kids, and that learning is fun yet challenging.

So we were very pleased that there is an emphasis on scientific methods, even at the Grade 1 level. She enjoyed making frozen lollipops, which taught her about the different stages of water.

4

A multifaceted education for all
OFS provides its students with many avenues
for personal growth and skills

Academic focus

International Primary Curriculum (IPC):

A comprehensive curriculum for students aged two to 10, comprising Units of Work based on a theme, designed for a clear learning experience.

The IPC Learning Goals form the foundation of the International Primary Curriculum and enable children to acquire sophisticated national, international, global and intercultural perspectives.

Each IPC unit comprises learning-focused activities that help children gain a sense of themselves, their community and the world around them, while developing the capacity to take action and make a difference.

International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme:


The International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) is offered for five years from Grades 6 to 10 (Middle School and Junior High School).

International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE):

Administered by the Cambridge International Examination Centre in the UK, with examinations for students in Grade 10. This certificate is similar to the GCE O-level certificate, examination-based and externally assessed.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme:

The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is a comprehensive two-year curriculum offered in senior high school (Grades 11 and 12). It allows students to fulfill requirements of many national Universities. A good score in this IB Diploma qualifies holders for admission at top universities throughout the English speaking world.

Intellectual development

Making the right moves with Chess:


The program, which aims to develop students’ strategic thinking, began in 2014.

The chess programme is part of the core curriculum for the kindergarten and elementary school levels, and supports all parts of the junior study programme.

Going high tech with Math-Coding:

Last year, Math-Coding was introduced as one of the school’s intellectual development programmes, and is offered to all grades in elementary school and middle school as part of their core curriculum.

It helps young minds to hone their abilities in strategic thinking, processing and communicating to help sharpen their innovative prowess in future.

Both programmes are part of every junior school timetable.

Enrichment and after-school programmes

The range of enrichment programmes, organised by the school’s Enrichment Programme team, is focused on enabling students to acquire new skills as they journey through life.

Programmes include sporting activities such as badminton, inline skating, swimming, baking, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, tennis, hip hop and modern jazz, to other less physical activities such as clay modelling, I-Debate, brush lettering, fun aerospace, Lego engineers, and Lego Mindstorms EV3 Robotics, and even courses of a semi-scientific nature such as “Once upon a time” and “SuperHero Science”.

Experts and tutors are employed for a wide range of after school activities. Participation fees apply.

In addition, OFS teachers conduct extra-curricular activities and after-school sports programmes. Students choose to join various after school clubs learning, the arts, music, dance or drama; or participate in sports such as football, touch rugby and volleyball. Participants also get to take part in competitions with other school teams. No extra fees apply.

5

Building unity in a global context
Advocating an international mindset in its
students is a strong theme at OFS

Every April, for the past 25 years, there has been a tangible example of the way in which the Overseas Family School (OFS) celebrates its unity in diversity.
 Organised by parent volunteers of the OFS Parent Association (OFSPA) working with OFS management. More than 5,000 people present, representing the more than 70 OFS nationalities of OFS.

The school’s Global Picnic is an annual festival of food, games and a wide range of performances for students. Parents, students and school staff interact together and forge closer bonds.

Inclusiveness is central to the event because it involves the entire school community in a day happy family of free food, fun and fantasy.

Families each bring along samples of their national dishes, many wear national costumes, which is all to expose the children to the food, costumes, dances and music of the world.

According to the school, the Global Picnic represents the true spirit of OFS, revolving around the desire to share each country’s unique customs, traditions, culture and cuisine in a happy and fun atmosphere. In this spirit of enjoying a happy day together, no payments or fees are required. The school company foots the bills for the day, usually about S$60,000. But families can leave their wallets at home.

Multisensory and multinational celebration

Every year at the Global Picnic, numerous games and experiences are attractions for all ages. Face painting, and a chance to get a hands-on experience of the skills and pastimes of people from the many regions of the world represented at OFS. An introduction to the arts, crafts and cultures of these many countries is always a vibrant feature of the Global Picnic. Fairground attractions of Merry-go-rounds, large slides, side shows and three wheeler rides.

And the feature event is always the large stage where many of the different cultures at OFS, perform their own songs and dances to a large audience of fascinated fellow families among the many different nationalities. Dancers in a variety of national costumes, musical recitals featuring nationally distinctive instruments.

A highlight is always the sampling of food from food stalls staffed by parents from the many different regions and nations. Food provided by and representing a specific country, on a stall brightly decorated with distinctive displays and the national flag. It all represents a wide range of displays on show, indigenous to the many countries represented at OFS.

The chance to taste frijoles from Latin America, lingonberry jam from Sweden and kebabs from India and Pakistan. Dozens of tasty offerings to please the most adventurous palates. A wonderful global taste fest for OFS families. The chefs are busy, the organizers efficient and the supply chain elaborate.

Chairman: “We feel that when students learn about new cultures and how to interact with one another on this fun day, positive international attitudes will become even more natural and rewarding as they get older.”

Strong partnership
 with parents


Emphasis on parent involvement, such a vital component of the Global Picnic, is a continuing theme at OFS.

Overseas Family School Parent Association (OFSPA) members also assist with refreshments, displays and decorations at other school events and meetings. The group enables interaction among people from different parts of the world, an important facet for families who are new to Singapore and to the school. For example, at the beginning of each school year the OFSPA organizes a formal opportunity to introduce new parents to the directors and to each other, in the school auditorium. Many rewarding friendships have been struck at this session.

Each academic year includes two structured parent-teacher conference days. Parents bring their children to meet teachers in a “three way conference”, Parent, Student, Teacher. Parents are encouraged to meet with teachers at any time they wish to discuss any issue of concern. OFS policy states that when a parent wishes to meet with anyone in the school management or teaching staff, that immediately becomes the priority, no matter what else is happening.

“OFSPA Coffee mornings” are held on a regular basis, sometimes with guest speakers, for example themed sessions such as a zumba workshop, cooking demonstration and national dance.

The OFSPA committee, made up of a group of parents of different nationalities, meets monthly to discuss matters such as a graduation ceremony or the OFS Global Picnic.

Raising global awareness — MUN

Strong emphasis on an international mindset is emphasized by the OFS Model United Nations (MUN), which was introduced as part of the core curriculum at OFS in 2009. Designed to raise student awareness of prevailing global issues, OFS students from Elementary, Middle school and High school regularly take part in MUN conferences, where students from many different countries meet together to debate their futures, United Nations style.

This initiative introduces MUN-advocated skills, mindsets and practices to students of all ages. It has a strong focus on enhanced communication, collaboration, international-mindedness and confidence. It is also a wonderful opportunity for OFS students to dress up in fashionable dresses and slick suits, and act all grown up.

Encouraging students to think globally is a major part of the school’s wider objectives. Often we are told by amused parents that students, even young students, have initiated discussions at their home dining table, about international issues they discussed in MUN sessions at school. It has been commented that the OFS MUN is more effective at finding solutions to world problems in formal debate, than the New York UN. Maybe because no one at OFS MUN has veto power.