Why it helps to start school at the beginning of the academic year: An OWIS perspective

While starting at a new school, it’s often helpful for students to be able to join at the beginning of the academic year. Sometimes, it’s not feasible for children to join a new school at the start of the academic year, especially when families are relocating and moving to a new country. In such situations, international schools like One World International School make transitions at any time of the year as smooth as possible for new students in Singapore. But if students have the opportunity to join a new school at the start of the academic year, it is advisable for them to do so, as they reap several benefits, academically and socially.

When students start school with us in August, which is the beginning of our school year, it’s easier for them to integrate with the whole school community as everyone comes together to welcome new students and help them settle in. Students may also find more opportunities to develop friendships across the school and are able to make a fresh start academically.

Students bonding during their break-time

With the current Covid situation delaying arrivals in Singapore and mandatory measures upon arrival, including Stay-home-notices (SHN), it is advisable for families outside Singapore to apply early for admissions and plan to arrive in advance of the beginning of our new academic year in August.

Factors that favour students joining school at the beginning of the school year

If you’d like to join our school community, here are some reasons why we encourage your child to join us in the month of August at the start of our academic year.

  • Our Head of School and our Senior coordinators (for Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary school) lead a welcome assembly for all students and new parents at the beginning of the year to introduce themselves, the teachers and to talk about our school community and values. Expectations from students and important school procedures for the day, essential guidelines on school etiquette, safe-distancing rules etc. are reiterated to students by the school leadership and staff during the orientation assembly.
  • Students starting school at the beginning of the academic year are able to settle in more easily. All students are given a warm welcome back to school after the summer holidays and there is a relaxed beginning to class schedules, with some time allocated for a settling-in period. New students are able to seamlessly join class groups for projects or learning assignments and they are not trying to immediately catch up with on-going lessons. Your child will have some time to settle into their new classes socially and academically and develop a class routine and friendships along with the rest of their peers.

Parents attending an orientation session at OWIS
  • Students within a particular class at OWIS are redistributed when they move a grade up, at the start of the new academic year, so that they get to interact with a wider number of students in their grade level. This is part of a pastoral policy to help students develop their relationship skills and find new friends. This gives new students a better opportunity to find friends as well, as many existing OWIS students will also be new to the changed classroom composition.
  • At the beginning of the academic year, teachers will spend time getting to know each student better and will explain their expectations, our school values, culture and other essential information. Your child will be able to integrate easily with their classmates. Class teachers and tutors work with students to come up with a set of student agreements (classroom, out-door play, behaviour and other agreements) at the beginning of the year. Through this process, your child will get to know their teachers’ and school expectations and agree to expected behaviours in the classroom, playground and other areas of the school.
  • Students will be guided around the campus facilities and get to know the different areas of the school (classrooms, separate areas for art, music, language, science labs, sports field, canteen, pick-up and drop-off zones etc.)
  • For secondary school, the Cambridge IGCSE from Grade 9 and the IB Programme from Grade 11 are both 2-year programmes that students have to join at the beginning of the academic year to ensure they can complete their course as per the requirements. Students are typically not allowed to join these two programmes mid-year and are strongly encouraged to start at the beginning of the academic year for both the IGCSE and the IB DP.
  • While it makes sense for students to join at the beginning of the academic year, it’s easier for parents as well to integrate as part of the school community when they join the school in August. OWIS has an active parent community called the OWIS Parents Committee (OPC) who are very involved in the community activities of the school. The OPC conducts a welcome session for new parents at the start of the academic year and elects or re-elects its core committee members at this time. Parent class representatives are also chosen for every class at the start of the academic year and all parents can become involved as a volunteer or just be a part of the parent community at OWIS.

As mentioned earlier, students can join OWIS at any time of the year and we have an on-boarding plan for new students who transition mid-year. Still, the advantages of joining us at the start of the academic year in August are many, and do help children settle-in more easily. When students come in at the start of the year, they also get to spend a longer period of time with the same set of friends and teachers before moving on to the next grade. This can develop a stronger sense of community and belonging in your child and make him/her want to come into school eagerly everyday.

To learn more about OWIS, our culture and teaching philosophy, schedule a virtual school tour with us now.

This blog was originally written in collaboration with Jasween Gill, former Admissions and Communications Director, OWIS Nanyang and Suntec.