Despite the business challenges posed by the Covid pandemic over the last 20 months, Singapore’s education sector is growing exponentially with the city-state all set to have a third American-style international school. The new school, named XCL American Academy, expects to start enrolling students from August 2022.
XCL Education, a leading education provider in Asia and the parent company of the school, has begun construction of their new campus in Singapore and is expected to finish construction in August of 2023. Meanwhile, XCL American Academy plans to start accepting students for a “foundation campus” in the premises of their sister school next door – the XCL World Academy.
What is expected to set this new school apart from other elite international schools that cater mainly to expatriate students, is its “affordable” fee structure, said a senior school official.
Speaking to India Se Media in an exclusive interview, Mr Brian Rogove, CEO of the academy, said the mission of his school is to offer “a high quality, rigorous American education on a more accessible tuition structure”, for children aged 2-14. The XCL American Academy distinguishes itself from other international institutions, American or otherwise, by emphasising on providing “a quality education entrenched in American values at a significantly more affordable fee,” stressed Mr Rogove, a veteran of Singapore’s competitive international school sector, who was handpicked for the role of managing the new school. He believes XCL American Academy fills a crucial gap in the international school market. “Having been involved in international education in Singapore for a very long time, particularly American education, there was an underserved market where parents didn’t want to compromise quality but they desired affordability” he said.
What does he mean by “a more accessible tuition structure?” India Se put the question to Mr Rogove. It implies not having to capitulate to the capitalistic forms of education today by sacrificing either quality or money, he says. “Often there’s a trade-off between affordability and quality, particularly when it comes to education. It is important to have quality at the forefront of our minds.”
Without compromising on the quality of its teaching, XCL Academy plans to keep fees more affordable than other similar international schools. It plans to do this by having slightly larger class sizes. “I think probably one of the key areas that allows us to facilitate more affordable fees without compromising teaching quality is a slight nuance that’s different to other international schools. Most international schools today have a maximum class size of 24 or 25 and lower grade levels could be 18 to 22 (students). So, the way that we’re doing that is we’re essentially adding two to maybe three more students per class. And that little bit of a change allows us to not sacrifice at all in terms of recruiting the best quality teachers and not sacrificing the teacher quality.”
Explaining further, Mr Rogove added: “If you look at more specifically where we’re positioning our fees, you’re talking about a range between S$22,000 to S$29,000 that’s like a 60-70 per cent difference in price.”
“In the context of Singapore international schools, the normal school fees are upwards of mid-40s to S$50,000 a year depending on what grade level you’re in and if you add co-curricular activities and everything else, it can be a very expensive experience. In all the years I’ve been involved in education and the research around class size, almost all that research, lots of method studies supports the fact that you really see no detriment at all to the quality of teaching and learning and more importantly, the teacher’s ability to personalise the learning journey till you get to about 30 students per class,” said Mr Rogove. “So that’s the main lever we have that allows us to really not sacrifice teaching quality by just having few more kids per class.”
“Having done a few schools in Singapore in the past, I always felt that there is a need, especially for families like myself that have more than one child which compounds your cost, to provide a real quality option but at a fee that is more manageable and that’s really where the impetus came for setting up the American Academy. There is really no option today in Singapore for people who desire more American-style education that’s really affordable,” he added.
Mr Rogove believes XCL American Academy will ensure each individual experiences a personalised learning journey that will equip her/him for academic success and university matriculation. “A comprehensive International education system should not fail to nourish and cater to its diverse community,’’ said Mr Rogove. “As such, where the overwhelming population of Indian expatriates are concerned, the subject to demand Hindi mother tongue programme and batting nets for cricket allows for our Indian community to remain connected to our culture.”
The campus which costs roughly $53 million is conveniently located 20 minutes from the city centre and offers world class amenities in academics, sports and extracurricular activities.
Among some of the state-of-the-art amenities, the school will have a three-story library, a multipurpose gymnasium, and classes equipped with the latest technological advancements. Students will also be exposed to a unique experience through its unique “Pioneer town” concept that the school prides itself on, designed to cultivate entrepreneurial and innovative skills.
Mr Rogove said his school strives to build a community where students and parents are content with the quality of the education they are receiving, without having to compromise on expenditure, especially for families with more than one child. “We wouldn’t want to be viewed as just the accessible school, but we have to be the best International Baccalaureate school and combined high school as the American World Academy (a sister school) does today, giving great academic results and truly preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow ,” he added.
It helps that XCL American Academy has some big name investors such as Temasek and TPG that empower the institutions to plan for the future seamlessly. “It’s great to have long-term shareholders who really look at things over very long-term. That allows us a lot of flexibility to make longer-term investments and when you look at schools, it’s a very major capital investment, we’re looking at investing almost S$80 million dollars across both these campuses.”
XCL American Academy will be admitting their first batch in August of 2022. Registrations are welcome. Interested applicants may contact the admissions team at +65 6850 5112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.