This inclusive, all-through co-ed with a community feel began as a British prep school in the 1970s, and, in 2014, it was taken over by the Nord Anglia Education group. With a strong sibling policy and first-class teaching, Dover Court stands out for its supportive, nurturing approach.
Built on what was once an officers’ mess for the Royal Corps of Signals, the secondary school shares a grassy 12-acre campus with the junior school (each has its own playground) on the Dover Road ‘educational corridor’ (there are several international schools along here, so expect a bit of congestion during drop-off).
The exterior of the low-rise buildings lacks aesthetic appeal but don’t fret: there was a big renovation programme in 2019, which means that inside you’ll find light airy classrooms and modern add-ons such as the dance studio and music-technology room. We love the outdoorsy feel of Dover Court and the sheer amount of green space there is for teenagers to let off steam – refreshingly, this doesn’t feel one jot like a penned-in city campus.
New head Richard Dyer takes up the reins fresh from another Nord Anglia outpost, the British International School Budapest. Before joining Dover Court, he served in six British international schools in South East Asia and Europe, as Deputy Principal, Head Teacher and Principal.
He has taught on postgraduate degree programmes for Head Teachers and Principals in association with universities in Hong Kong, Australia and England and has presented at education conferences worldwide. Mr Dyer is a Fellow Member of the College of Teachers and an inspector for the UK’s Independent Schools Inspectorate.
There’s a rolling waiting list by date of application, with sibling priority. Often parents will enrol one child here for the excellent SEN provision but, in keeping with its all-encompassing family ethos, the school hopes that all siblings will join (to encourage this, the application fee is per family rather than per child). It’s non-selective but, at secondary level, children sit an online CAT4 test to give teachers an idea of academic potential.
Dover Court has three learning pathways. The majority of pupils follow the English National Curriculum through to IGCSEs; the second pathway is the same but taught in smaller classes of up to 10, so there is much more individual support. The third option is a more specialised, skills-based curriculum for those with SEN, involving individual learning plans, counselling and lots of OT, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy where needed. Whichever pathway children are on, the amount of support and commitment from teachers is huge, ensuring that everyone can reach their full potential.
An EAL programme runs across all year groups but although it’s available in Year 9 for existing students, new students who need EAL can’t join the programme after Year 8. There is a reasonable selection of IGCSE subjects: maths, English and science are the only core ones; everything else is optional. Until Year 7, when French is added, Mandarin is the only language offered. Spanish is an option from Year 9 onwards.
As in the primary school, music and performing arts are big. Being part of Nord Anglia means that the music curriculum was developed in association with The Juilliard School in New York (after which the performing-arts centre is named). There’s also a new black-box theatre and drama studio, and a lovely creative space called The Yard for DT – pupils can pop in between lessons to work on projects under supervision.
Since the secondary school opened, sport here has come on massively and all the usual disciplines are offered (although they field fewer teams than some of the bigger schools, so only the strongest pupils compete in tournaments). Dover Court is in the FOBISIA (Federation of British International Schools in Asia) and the ACSIS (Athletics Conference of Singapore International Schools), and brings home its share of trophies and glory. The major highlight (other than all the green space) is the full-size grass football pitch, encircled by an athletics track – a serious boon in Singapore.
A good spread of extracurricular – including DofE, art, mindfulness, yoga, arts and crafts, dodgeball, poetry, journalism and newspaper club – means there’s something for everyone.
The community here is the backbone of Dover Court – and what makes it really special. New starters are welcomed with a family buddy as well as individual pupil buddies, and pupils make friends easily across all three learning pathways. The 60 nationalities across the school – including British, Australian, Japanese and Korean – reflect the inclusive vibe (40 per cent of teachers are from the UK, the rest from far and wide across the globe). Lots of social events too (barbecues, quiz nights), arranged by the parents’ Dover Court Association.
Dover Court might not be as slick in appearance as some other international schools (and it’s definitely not a hothouse), but for those seeking a strong community feel and teachers who go above and beyond, it is an absolute winner.