Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (ACS(I)) (Chinese: 英华自主中学) is a Methodist school in Singapore. Founded in 1886 by the Rev William Fitzjames Oldham, it was recognised as an IB World School in 2005, and has since consistently ranked among the top 3 schools worldwide that offer the IB Diploma Programme.[1]

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
121 Dover Road

Coordinates1.302570°N 103.780586°E / 1.302570; 103.780586
MottoTo God Be The Glory, The Best Is Yet To Be
Established1 March 1886
FounderWilliam Fitzjames Oldham
Sister schoolMethodist Girls' School, Singapore
SuperintendentMdm Stella Wee Bee Lian
School code7001
ChairpersonMr Richard Seow (ACS Board of Governors)
PrincipalMr Arene Koh Sung-yi (许上羽)
ChaplainRev Khoo Kay Huat
Staffapprox. 500
GenderBoys (Years 1–4)
Mixed (Years 5–6)
Age range12–18
Enrolmentapprox. 2900
Colour(s) Red   Blue   Gold 
SongACS Anthem
Team nameTeam ACS

ACS(I) offers the first four years of the Integrated Programme together with their affiliate, Methodist Girls' School, which allows students to proceed directly to ACS(I) (Year 5-6) without taking the GCE 'O' Levels to complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.


Aerial view of the school, before the construction of the new apartment-styled boarding block: (from left to right) sports complex, boarding school, original main building, IB block
Aerial Panorama of Anglo Chinese School Independent in Dover Road, Singapore. Shot 2016.

ACS was offered 'independent' status by Singapore's Ministry of Education in 1987. This was accepted by the ACS Board of Governors. In 1992, the school moved to a new campus at Dover Road. The site was opened by Dr Richard Hu, Minister of Finance of Singapore, on 1 March 1993, the 107th anniversary of the school's founding by Bishop William Fitzjames Oldham.[2]

The ACS House along Amoy Street, the original premises of ACS

ACS was founded on 1 March 1886 by Bishop Oldham, as an extension of the Methodist Church. Its first location was a shophouse at 70 Amoy Street with a total of 13 pupils. Its name came from the fact that it conducted lessons in English at night and Chinese in the afternoon. By the following year, enrolment had increased to 104, and the school moved to Coleman Street.

Between 1914 and 1920, led by the Rev. J.S. Nagle, the school introduced regular religious services and physical education classes. Afternoon classes were also established for academically weaker pupils. In a bid to ensure continuity in school life and keep the school adequately staffed, Nagle encouraged ex-students, known as old boys, to return to the school as teachers. To this day, the Anglo-Chinese School Old Boys' Association is a link through which old boys may keep ties with the school.

The Anglo-Chinese Continuation School was started by the new principal, the Rev. P.L. Peach, in 1925, for students who had to leave the school due to the newly imposed age limits on school-going boys by the government. Eventually, ACS was renamed the Oldham Methodist School. A secondary school was opened at Cairnhill Road.

Between 1942 and 1945, the Japanese occupied Singapore during World War II. During the Occupation, lessons were suspended, and the school re-opened its doors only in 1946, a year after the Japanese surrender, when the buildings at Cairnhill and Coleman Street were made safe from war damage. The pre-war principal, T.W. Hinch, who had been interned by the Japanese, returned to the school. He set up "X" and "Y" classes, each with different levels of difficulty, for students who had missed years of their education due to the Occupation. In September 1950, the secondary school moved from Cairnhill to Barker Road.

Also in 1950, Post School Certificate Classes, later known as Pre-University Classes because they were supposed to prepare students for tertiary education, were set up, and the first batch of girl students was enrolled in ACS. Students in the lower grades continued to be all-male, a practice which persists to this day. Thio Chan Bee, the first Asian principal of ACS, took over in 1952. During his tenure, both the Cairnhill and Barker Road premises were expanded, the latter with the building of the Lee Hall, a three-storey building housing twelve classrooms and four laboratories.

In 1986, ACS celebrated its centenary with the publication of a hardback history of the school entitled Hearts, Hopes and Aims.[citation needed]

ACSP moved out of the Coleman Street campus in 1994; in its place now are the National Archives. In 1988 the Ministry of Education started its Independent School programme. Independent schools are allowed to be privately funded and subject to less government regulation in setting out their curriculum. The school was renamed ACS (Independent); in 1993 the Barker Road campus was vacated and the school moved to Dover Road. After strong lobbying by alumni, the Barker Road site was retained for a second secondary school. At the same time, Anglo-Chinese Primary School abandoned Coleman Street (the old building now housing the National Archives of Singapore) to share premises with the new secondary school at Barker Road, now named ACS (Barker Road).

When Bishop Oldham started the school in 1886, he also took in some students as boarders. The boarding facility soon expanded and moved into ever-larger premises, first in Bellevue at Oldham Lane, then to Dunearn House at Barker Road. In 1986, when ACS celebrated its centennial year, the boarding school known as Oldham Hall moved into new premises within the ACS Barker Road campus. It moved back into the rebuilt premises in December 2002 and was renamed ACS Oldham Hall to emphasise its roots as a strong and vibrant member of the ACS family.[citation needed]


The principal of the school is also the school's Chief Executive Officer.[3] The first principal of the independent school was Lawrence Chia, an associate professor of chemistry at the National University of Singapore and a Presbyterian elder. Professor Chia stepped down at the end of 1993 and one of his two vice-principals was selected to replace him. Ong Teck Chin held the post from 1994 to October 2010.[4] From 5 October 2010, Fanny Tan was appointed acting principal in his stead,[5] until the appointment of Winston James Hodge as new principal with effect from 21 June 2011.[6] Then, in December 2018, Arene Koh was appointed as principal.


ACS (Independent) was awarded the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) in October 2009.[7] ACS (Independent) has achieved the Singapore Quality Award, all four Best Practice Awards, School Distinction and School Excellence Awards. ACS(I) has won The Straits Times' 'Top School in Sports (Boys)' award 14 times, starting with the first award in 1996 and winning thereafter every year until 2010, with the exception of 1999.[8]

It has been consistently ranked as one of the top secondary schools in Singapore. In the GCE 'Ordinary' level examinations, ACS(I) had been ranked in the top 15 institutions in Singapore for a number of years since 1995. In 2008 it was reported that ACS(I) students taking the IB exams for the first time had produced results among the best in the world: nine students had obtained the perfect score of 45, making up almost half the 20 candidates worldwide to do so.[9] It was also reported that ACS(I)'s performance put it among the top three IB schools in the world.[9] In 2010, 27 students worldwide were reported to have achieved the perfect score, of whom 13 came from the ACS(I) November 2009 examination cohort;[10] in 2011, it produced 28 students who earned the perfect score. The number of perfect scorers increased to 29 in 2012[11] and 37 in 2013. In 2014, the school produced 32 of the 43 students nationwide who obtained perfect scores.[12] In 2015, 34 students scored the perfect score.[13] In 2016, 41 scored the perfect score, accounting for the 48 in Singapore and 81 worldwide to do so. In 2018 ACS scored an average of 41.6 points per IBDP student making it the top IB school in the world as per the league tables published by Education Advisers Ltd at .</ref>


International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

The school was invited by the Ministry of Education to pioneer an Integrated Programme along with several other schools, targeted at high-achieving students. As these students are expected to attend university, the Ministry decided that it would benefit them to bypass GCE 'O' Level and sit directly for a pre-university examination. Accordingly, in 2004 ACS(I) began its Integrated Programme, adopting the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) to that end. Intakes for the Integrated Programme are at Years 1, 3 and 5. ACS(I) was also one of the first schools to offer the Gifted Education Programme, and is the only school that offers it alongside the Integrated Programme. From 2012 onwards, students from Methodist Girls' School will move to ACS(I) after their first four years, in year 5 to complete their 6-year IP leading to the IBDP with the ACS(I) batch, without taking the GCE "O" levels. Students who cannot cope with either of these may opt for the GCE 'O' Levels instead. The GEP is also offered in ACS(I)'s affiliate, Anglo-Chinese School (Primary).

Year 1 & 2

The overall programme consists of two main interdisciplinary academic strands; Strand 1 and 2 and other components such as Individualised Study Option (ISO), Philosophy of Disciplines (POD), National Education (NE), Pastoral Care & Career Guidance (PCCG), Physical Education (PE), Co-curricular Activities (CCA) and enrichment options. Strand 1 is focused on mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences, earth sciences, information sciences and technological studies and also contains elements of social sciences. Strand 2 is focused on the languages, language arts and literature, history and social studies and also contains elements of the performing arts in general. The Strand 2 curriculum was adapted from an ACS(I) GEP design. The remaining components include PE/CCA, NE/PCCG programmes and enrichment options designed to develop leadership ability and creativity. Specialised Art and Music electives, National Education, and affective/religious education are also included. Among subjects specially covered for the Integrated Programme in preparation for the year 5-6 IBDP, are Introduction to Human Societies (IHS), Language Arts (LA), and Philosophy of Disciplines (POD). They also have to complete a total of 120 hours of Creativity, Action, Service, and Leadership (CASL) and submit an Individualised Study Option (ISO) which prepares them for the IBDP's Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) and Extended Essay (EE).

Year 3 & 4

Years 3 and 4 utilize the same two-strand system, but with expanded scope and depth. In addition, an annual interdisciplinary colloquium is conducted where experts in different fields and teachers of various disciplines come together to discuss the similarities and differences of their subjects with each other and with the student participants.

Year 5 & 6

Year 5 and 6 utilize the IB Diploma Programme. Diploma students study six subjects from at least five out of six subject groups, concurrently over two years, as well as the core elements of the programme (Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay and Creativity, Action, Service). At least three, and not more than four of the six subjects selected are taken at higher level (HL), the others at standard level (SL). HL courses represent 240 teaching hours, and require a greater depth of study across a broader range of content in the subject. SL courses require 150 hours and provide breadth of study across the whole Diploma Programme.

Other programmes

Along with the default Integrated Programme, ACS offers the Foreign Language Programme, the Malay Special Programme(MSP),the Music Elective Programme (MEP) and the Regional Studies Programme (RSP), the latter two which are offered only by a few selected schools.[14] ACS also offers the Gifted Education Programme (Singapore) (GEP) now known as the School-based Gifted Education (SBGE) for academically brilliant students, among the top 1% in the nation.

In addition, ACS also offers a specialised subject combination in Years 3 & 4 called the Accelerated Science Programme (ASP).

Culture and tradition


The school's stated aim is to have every student be 'A Scholar, an Officer and a Gentleman'. The school motto, 'The Best Is Yet To Be', is taken from the second line of the poem by Robert Browning, Rabbi ben Ezra (1864),[15] and serves to encourage students to achieve greater heights by reminding them that their best achievements are yet to come.


The Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) formal uniform is worn at all times. For male students, it consists of a white short-sleeved shirt, with either dark blue short trousers (for Year 1 to 3 students) or dark blue long trousers (for Year 4 to 6 male students). The shirt is always tucked in.

Male students in Years 1 to 4 wear a dark blue tie with the ACS logo design on it. Males in Years 5 and 6 wear a striped tie with the school colours to distinguish them from the lower levels. Ties must be worn at all times during school hours. Female students in Year 5 and 6 wear a white short-sleeved shirt, untucked, with dark blue skirts. Yellow school scarves are worn on formal occasions.

Anthem and coat of arms

The school's anthem was adapted by teacher Henry Martyn Hoisington in 1926. It is adapted from the Canadian unofficial national anthem "The Maple Leaf Forever".

Drawing inspiration from the anthem, Dr Yap Pheng Geck designed the school arms in 1930. Placed in chief azure above the three letters of the school name is a golden creature with a lion's head, an eagle's wings and a dragon's body with claws, representing that the school was founded when Singapore was a British colony, by an American Methodist mission and during the Qing Dynasty in China. Technically, this creature is a heraldic Wyvern, however, in a heritage talk to Year Ones Vice Principal Patrick Soo has claimed that this is a misconception, referring to it as just the 'ACS Creature'.

The lower part of the field consists of two panels, blue and gold, which represent heaven and earth. The colours also symbolize both spiritual and material accomplishment. The letters "ACS" in red symbolize life forming a bridge between both; they also symbolize the blood of Christ uniting heaven and earth. In addition to the school name, the letters ACS are also variously said to spell out Academic achievements, Christian Character, and Sportsmanship or Service beyond self. Finally, the overall shield shape represents the knightly virtues of chivalry, honour, loyalty, valour and manliness.


In 2001 then-Principal Ong told The Straits Times that "we have corporal punishment for some serious offences. But the rules are stated clearly in the school handbook and we have to be consistent in applying them."[16]

A publicity document for entry into the school's International Baccalaureate (IB) programme from age 16/17 to age 18/19 says that a punishment for violations of the school's academic honesty policy is "Caning(only for male students) which will be conducted in the Principal’s office, classroom or during school assembly." "All students who have been caned will be required to attend counselling sessions arranged by the school".[17]

Student activities

House system

The clock tower

The house system is a way of grouping students into mutually competitive groups. It was introduced on 16 April 1929 during the tenure of Principal Thomas W Hinch. ACS Houses were named initially after churchmen Bishop James Thoburn, Bishop William F Oldham, and Rev Goh Hood Keng; and philanthropists Tan Kah Kee and Cheong Koon Seng.[18] In 2005, three other benefactors of the school were honoured by having houses named after them: these were Dr Lee Seng Gee, Dr Shaw Vee Meng and Tan Sri Dr Tan Chin Tuan.[19]

The houses in chronological order, and their house colours, are:

  • Thoburn - Green
  • Oldham - Red
  • Goh Hood Keng (GHK) - Yellow
  • Tan Kah Kee (TKK) - Dark Blue
  • Cheong Koon Seng (CKS) - Light Blue
  • Lee Seng Gee (LSG) - Grey
  • Shaw Vee Meng (SVM) - Purple
  • Tan Chin Tuan (TCT) - Tan/Orange

Co-curricular Activities (CCA)

The school has over 50 different CCAs,[20] including more than 10 clubs and societies in diverse fields. Participation in 2 CCAs is compulsory for all pupils from Year 1 to 4.[20] Each student participates in 2 CCAs: a Uniformed Group and either Sports, Service, Clubs and Societies or Cultural Activities.[20] A student is exempted from taking part in the Uniformed Group only for the following reasons:[21]

  • Medical reasons
  • Is in the National Sports Teams recognised under the Singapore Schools Sports Council
  • Is in the Performance Groups approved by the School:
    1. Singapore National Youth Orchestra
    2. ACS Symphonic Band
    3. ACS Boys Brigade Bagpipe Band
  • Has gotten and accepted Sports DSA offer

The school also offers the usual suite of uniformed groups and a full range of performing arts and sports groups.

ACS Old Boys Association (OBA)

The OBA was formed by accident rather by design when the Rev J S Nagle, Principal of ACS (1913 – 1922) was tasked with fulfilling Bishop William F Oldham’s vision of building an ACS College. The Rev Nagle contacted the Old Boys, some of whom were distinguished citizens holding prominent positions in society then, to garner their support to realise Bishop Oldham’s dream. Though this dream failed to materialize, the ACSOBA was formed. It was officially formed on 10 July 1914, 28 years after ACS was started at Amoy Street.[22] The OBA provides a venue for the Old Boys to network among themselves as well as organizing events that have since become traditions such as the annual Founder’s Day Dinner. [citation needed]



ACS(I) has a number of facilities, including a campus-wide Wi-Fi network, air-conditioned classrooms, computer and science laboratories, multi-purpose halls, auditoriums, and lecture theatres. ACS(I) is known for its sporting tradition and has numerous sports facilities, including an artificial turf, a gymnasium, swimming pools and basketball, squash and tennis courts.

Sports Facilities
IB Block

Boarding school

ACS (Independent) Boarding School

Established in 1994, the ACS (Independent) Boarding School houses around 500 students, mostly overseas scholars from the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and India.[23]

It has many various facilities, including a daily laundry service, Wi-Fi in common areas and daily meals. Boarders may also use the ACS(I) facilities[24]

All who are leading there are staff members or school leaders of ACS(I).[25]

The Shaw Library and Resource Centre

The library is named after its financial benefactor, Runme Shaw. It contains over 100,000 books, reference materials and IB syllabus-based course books.


Sports and games

ACS (Independent) has achieved good sporting results through the years, having produced national champions and national sportsmen. It has been strong in swimming, sailing, water-polo and rugby. It has been The Straits Times' Top School in Sports (Boys) in an almost unbroken streak since this title was first awarded, from 1996 to 2009.[7] The exception was 1999, in which The Chinese High School won the title. The record number of gold medals in a single season was achieved in 2018, where it won 17 gold medals and 10 silver medals. The school has held many winning streaks such as the "B" Division Rugby Title from 1997–2003 and the "C" Division Rugby Title from 1997–2009. In 2008, ACS (Independent) won a grand slam in Rugby, winning all three "A" Division, "B" Division and "C" Division titles.

National inter-schools championships

Note : Records from 1989 onwards; "A" Division records from 2007 onwards

Uniformed groups

The school has also performed well in its uniformed groups, achieving Gold and Best Unit awards multiple times over the past years. In 2011 alone, all of the school's units have attained a Gold award. ACS (Independent) holds the record of having the largest amount of Uniformed Groups in a single school. In addition to this, ACS (Independent) is the only school with a National Cadet Corps Tri-Service, and one of two schools which pioneered the National Police Cadet Corps. The Scout and Venture Scout units of the school are also the largest in Singapore. The Boys' Brigade and Boys' Brigade Primers also encompasses the Boys' Brigade Bagpipe Band,[33] one of only 15 in Singapore. However, the NPCC (Sea) unit and Military Bagpipe Band have since been shut down.

Clubs, societies and performing arts

The ACS(I) Debate Team has a very strong debating tradition, many of the members going on to represent Singapore at the World Schools Debating Championships. ACS(I) emerged National Champions in 1998, 2005 and 2013 and 1st Runner-Up in both 2004 and 2006 in the Singapore Secondary Schools Debating Championships. In 2010, ACS (Independent) emerged champions in the Ministry of Finance Budget Debate for the Secondary School division and 1st Runner-Up for the Pre-University division.[43]

The school's Young Diplomats' Society has received awards in multiple Model United Nations Conferences both locally and overseas and also organises the annual International Model United Nations Conference.

Between 1998 and 2012, the school's Philharmonic Orchestra obtained seven consecutive Gold Awards in the biennial Singapore Youth Festival competition, the only youth string ensemble to have done so. The Orchestra achieved two Gold with Honours awards at the 2007 SYF competition, for both its Secondary and College String groups. In 2013, 2015 and 2017, following the festival's award scheme revamp, the orchestra attained the Distinction award, the highest possible honour. It also collaborated with the Singapore Armed Forces Central Band in March 2007, and was the featured orchestra in the 2007 HSBC Young Talents' Concert.

The Symphonic Band won Gold with Honours awards in the 2005, 2007 and 2009 SYF competitions, being the only school besides St Patricks' School to have achieved this. It was ranked as one of the top three bands in all three years. The band also received a Gold in the 2011 competition.[44] The Wind Ensemble received a Gold in its first year of participation in SYF in 2007, as well as a Bronze in 2009 and a Silver in 2011.[45] In 2006, the band took part in the 17th Australian International Music Festival in Sydney, Australia, attaining a Gold Award. In the Singapore International Band Festival 2008, the band competed against professional bands in the open division and won the only Gold award, it also achieved second place in the Finals. In the SIBF competition for 2010, the band achieved Silver in the Open Category, while in 2012, the Symphonic Band was awarded a Gold in Division II and the Wind Ensemble was awarded Silver in Division I.[46] In 2011, both the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble participated in the Senior Category at the Hong Kong Winter Band Festival, attaining Silver and Gold (2nd Placing) respectively. The Symphonic Band has also received Distinction Awards at the 2013 and 2015 Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation for Concert Bands.[47][48]

The Choir, established in the 1980s, has taken part in many international and local choral competitions and workshops. The Choir has achieved a Gold award in the 2009 SYF Central Judging, as well as a Gold award in the recent 2011 SYF Central Judging.[49] The Choir also obtained a Gold award at the Genting International Choral Competition in 2007. The IB choir now performs as an a cappella society.

The Guitar Orchestra, established in 2003, has won three consecutive Gold medals in the SYF competitions, with a Gold award for its Secondary Orchestra and a Gold with Honours award for its College Orchestra in the 2007 SYF competition. The Secondary Orchestra obtained a Gold with Honours award in the 2009 SYF competition. It also hosts a yearly concert event, F.R.E.T.S (Finally a Really Exciting Thing to See).

Dance Venia, established in 2005, won the Gold with Honours Award at the Singapore Youth Festival Central Judging 2009 during their first participation in the event. Their latest achievements include 2 Certificates of Distinction at the same event in 2013 and 2015.

Odyssey of the Mind

ACS (Independent) has been affiliated with the international Odyssey of the Mind competitions since 1998, when its team represented Singapore at the World Finals in Disneyworld, Florida. To date, ACS (Independent) holds the record for the school with the most World Champion titles, with 17 as of 2016.[citation needed]

Notable alumni

See also


1. ^", School Excellence Award (SEA), Ministry of Education, Singapore, 2006


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