GESS celebrates its 50th anniversary as a not-for-profit international school that has evolved alongside the 56-year-old city-state, Singapore, that it calls home.
The school started as a ground-up, community initiative in 1971 when a group of European parents, working in Singapore, decided to come together, and set up a school for their children. Its initial student count was 6. Today, GESS is home to 1,800 students of 65 nationalities, aged 2 to 18 years old.
Supporting the Dutch and Larger European Community
GESS has been integral to the growing business and political ties between Singapore and Europe over the past 50 years. It has served as a world-class educational institution for the ever-growing Dutch, and wider European community in Singapore. At present, there are approximately 10, 000 European companies operating in the city-state.
By offering the full English (IB) International Baccalaureate, coupled with the option for students to study Dutch mother tongue and foreign languages such as German, French, Spanish or Mandarin, the school offers a robust education solution for Dutch-speaking expat families. And overall, it has been key to the ecosystem of resources necessary for these families to start their life in a new country.
Students of Dutch origin form a sizable part of the student population; in the IB Section, especially, Dutch is the second largest nationality.
In 2009, the school started offering Dutch as a language that students could study, and now this language offering has evolved into a full Dutch mother tongue programme for students from Grade 1 to 12. Towards this end, the school is resourced with dedicated Dutch language learning spaces, almost 800 Dutch books across various levels and highly qualified native-speakers of the language.
Students go beyond just learning the language, to study about the social, cultural, historical, and political aspects of Netherlands and develop a connection to their home culture. There are, for instance, annual celebrations for key Dutch events such as Koningsdag and the school has hosted officials from the Netherlands Embassy on these occasions, signifying its commitment to serve the Dutch in Singapore.
A Not-for-Profit Community School
Even with the tremendous expansion and growth, GESS’s integrity as a community-school has only grown stronger in the past 50 years. Till date, GESS continues to be headed by an elected Board-of-Governors, comprising entirely of GESS parents.
Parents are also active members of the GESS Association and get to vote on the school’s strategic decisions such as school fees, for instance.
Through these years, GESS has also maintained its not-for-profit status, reinvesting every dollar into creating more offerings and opportunities for students.
Facilities, Offerings and Opportunities for Students
GESS is currently housed in an expansive purpose-built campus with facilities catering to every interest and talent. These facilities range from state-of-the-art laboratories, design-and-technology studios, language spaces, performing arts facilities to sports amenities like an Olympic-sized swimming-pool and football field.
Apart from the impressive facilities, the school prides itself in its unique offerings for students.
With an eye on the future, GESS has created comprehensive offerings in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). It has a new Centre for Excellence that creates over 40 opportunities outside of the regular curriculum for high-potential students. The school is also the only one outside of Europe to offer the STEM-focused Junior Engineer Academy where selected students get training in engineering modules.
Beyond that, there are 90 co-curricular activities across sports, music, drama and technology.
GESS has carved out a strong position for itself in the international school scene and continually bolstered the growth of expat students, both by giving them a home away from home and the opportunities and resources they need to excel.
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