Why Dover Court?
by the late Ernest Alliott
The selection of a school by parents who are fortunate enough to be able to afford private education is not always an easy task when there are many establishments from which to choose. It is rather akin to selecting one desert island disk of a particular Beethoven symphony from a large number recorded at different times by some of the world's best orchestras and conductors. What determines one's choice? What are the parameters? Certain factors spring immediately to mind such as the campus, numbers on role, class size, staffing ratio, curriculum, religious or secular, national or international, overall ethos, sports facilities, cultural activities, extra-curricular involvement, special needs expertise and competitive fees structuring – not an exhaustive list, by any means, but plenty of food for thought.
Of course, the whole point of this article is to present you with a brief for Dover Court and why it should be well up on a discerning parent's list of possibles. Naturally, I am prejudiced but I like to think that I am fair-minded so I shall not gloss over its defects. The problem is that I can't find many defects. That is not a reflection of complacency on my part but stems from the excellence and devotion to work of our academic staff and their expertise that covers the waterfront of primary education from the basics to catering for children with varying special needs. Their leader, Dr. Maureen Roach, an expert in the field of Primary Education, an administrator for many years and a chartered child psychologist, has devoted her life to her profession and to her young charges. All members of staff attend regular in-service training sessions to keep up to date with new trends and ideas. Teachers make a school what it is, not buildings, equipment or all the bells and whistles. Make it your number one parameter. We do, and to ensure that we get the best we recruit from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and any other place to get the right person for the job.
Let's take a look at the campus. First we have to get past the security checkpoint, an unfortunate, but necessary, requirement in these days of worldwide terrorism and all that it stands for. On that point I have to say that I firmly believe Singapore to be one of the safer places in which to reside, work and play. Before going in to the reception area we'll linger a while in the tranquil and peaceful water garden and enjoy the lazy aquabatics of the Japanese koi. After all, "What is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare". It may not be the largest and most recently built campus but it is sited on a spacious twelve acres of greenery and parkland. The buildings are well-maintained and house large, air-conditioned classrooms, libraries, computer rooms, music room, science room and special-needs areas. Note the wheelchair ramps. Outdoors there is a fine swimming pool complex, extensive playing fields and a 6-lane running track maintained by our full-time grounds contractor. A catering contractor supplies freshly-cooked food from the school kitchens to the canteen. Transportation is provided in our supervised school buses to most parts of Singapore.
Currently, the school caters for just under six hundred students. The merits of a smaller school cannot be overemphasised, particularly with viable class size and an excellent staffing ratio. Beyond a certain size a school may become more like a sausage factory hoping to fill the skins of its sausage students, package them and - out into the market they go. There is danger of a loss of individuality when even the staff don't know each other. Close encounters between staff and staff, children and staff, children and children are all vital factors in the process of education. You may rest assured that, at Dover Court, everybody knows everybody and the resultant inter-communion of attitudes and philosophies together with interchange of ideas and approaches are what meld to give the school its distinctive ethos of caring and sharing.
You will have noted in your shopping around that some schools are out-and-out nationalistic, some are weighted but bend the rules now and then, few are truly international. Dover Court is proud of its internationalism in this world torn apart by race against race, creed against creed and the consequences of war and terrorism. The school is secular but tolerant of all creeds and religions. It does not preach the commandments but its moral code is strict and unwavering. Bigotry of any description is an absolute taboo. However, we do believe that communication is vital to achieve our goals of integration, hence the success of our Department of English as a Second Language. The little Japanese girl talking away to the small Dutch boy is a delight to see. Six months ago, neither could speak a word of English. The retention of national cultures, dress and language is also encouraged. Witness the school's United Nations Day celebrations when the children parade in their national dress and proudly march behind their national flags. What an inspiring sight. One wonders why the world in general is unable to live in such harmony.
If your child has special needs, look no further. Dover Court has a Department of Supportive Education fully equipped and staffed to look after children with disabilities ranging from Downe's Syndrome, Autism and Dyslexia to basic under achieving. Its staff includes Psychologists, Speech Therapists, Physical Therapists and teachers with qualifications in special needs. A great benefit of this facility, not enjoyed by many, is the integration of children with disabilities into main-school activities. You may not be aware of how valuable this can be to the disabled child. He is not isolated with others of his kind in a restricted environment. He can look the world in the face and say "I too can do this.". What a joy!
I have extolled the virtues of Dover Court but not excessively. Much has been left out. This is an article and not a book. There is one more point to mention. The fees at Dover Court are highly competitive and below those of most of the other private schools in Singapore. You must know this already if you are doing your shopping well. It only remains to wish you good judgement in your final choice. Your child's future depends on it.