At Elite IB, we have students that are from both local and expatriate families. As we mainly focus on the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) we have a large proportion of students from international schools, such as UWC, OFS, and CIS. We also have many students from more “home-grown” international schools, such as Hwa Chong International, ACS International, and St Joseph’s International.
We support IBDP students at HL and SL level, for most subjects offered, with popular subjects being Maths, Sciences, Economics and English. We also support students who are preparing to enter the IB (usually between the ages of 14-16), who are doing the IB’s MYP programme, (I)GCSEs or the IP system of Singapore’s schools. Finally, we support students who are finishing their IBs by offering consulting and interview practice to students who are applying for UK universities, particularly for Oxford and Cambridge. This is also open to non-IB students who are looking for support.
Elite IB was originally founded in the UK, and expanded into and started operations in Singapore at the start of 2016, with Wei Hao (above), an IB graduate and Oxford graduate in Chemistry, leading our operations. We have a ratio of non-Singapore to Singapore students of 60: 40. As we provide bespoke one-to-one support with our carefully chosen tutors, our student numbers are smaller than most tuition centres based on the large classroom model, with a higher tutor-to-student ratio.
In addition, this is our second year of operations based in Singapore and as we are experiencing strong growth we would expect more students, both local and expatriate, in the coming year.
Interest in tuition has certainly increased since my time studying the IB. I studied the IB at the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) in Singapore (now UWCSEA Dover), where I graduated from in 2001. During my time as a student, it was very rare for a student in UWC to be taking tuition in addition to their classes; however, I understand that tuition is becoming more prevalent amongst students there in recent years.
I believe that this increase in demand for tuition amongst international students is due to a combination of factors – the increased popularity of the IB programme in Singapore, the increased number of IB schools in Singapore, and the adoption of the IB diploma by local independent and international schools. In the past, there was a very clear distinction between the curricula of local mainstream JC schools taking the O-Level/A-levels or SIPCAL, versus the international schools taking the IGCSEs and the IB. In 2001, there were only two IB registered world schools in Singapore, both of which were international schools.
With the increase in the number of both international and local independent schools adopting the IB Diploma (there are now more than 36 registered IBDP world schools in Singapore), there is now a shared programme between the local and international schools. I think this has two effects: it allows for a direct comparison between students and scores of local and international schools and it makes it easier for students to move between schools due to the common syllabus. Students who were formerly segregated from each other are now in direct competition, both for spaces in schools and for applications to university, and this has lead to the spread of the tuition culture from local to international students and families.
That being said, I have noticed that there are differences in attitudes towards tuition. The first type are those which I think of as the “Kiasu Singaporean”: the families who feel their child needs to take tuition simply because other students are doing so, and are worried about being left out/behind. Especially for younger children, these families usually feel that they can somehow “get ahead of the game”. The second are those have considered their current grades and position, and have a clear goal in mind when they approach us for tuition. For example, this may be to address weaknesses that are preventing them from getting as much out of school as they could be, since they are not able to follow along due to the gaps in their knowlege, or have a particular grade to meet for their university applications and want to understand how to improve in that area.
We feel that identifying areas for improvement and developing these, to help students maximise their benefit from schooling, is complementary to their schooling. It can help students address their weaknesses in a way that is logistically not possible in the classroom setting, allowing them to get the most from their lessons when they attend class in school, as well as helping them achieve the university placement they aspire to.