Raffles Girls’ School (RGS) moved from the Anderson Road campus to 2 Braddell Rise yesterday morning (Oct 21).
The new $90 million campus, which was co-funded by the school and the Ministry of Education (MOE), sees big additions in facilities while still keeping significant monuments from the 140-year-old school.
The RGS project, which has been seven years in the making, occupies the site of the former Braddell-Westlake Secondary School that closed in 2005.
Its brother school Raffles Institution (RI) is across the road in Bishan. The schools are now connected via an overhead pedestrian bridge linking bus stops on both sides of Braddell Road.
New students will start at the Braddell Rise site in academic year 2020, while current students will finish up the last week of this school year there.
New principal to lead RGS
RGS principal and alumna Poh Mun See, 50, said she was glad to have been part of this chapter of the school’s journey, from almost start to finish.
She helmed RGS since the end of 2012 – the year the move was first raised – and will step down in December to return to the MOE as a cluster superintendent.
Mrs Poh will be replaced by Madam Haslinda Zamani, former principal of Tanjong Katong Secondary School who is currently a cluster superintendent with the MOE.
Speaking to the media after the opening ceremony on Monday, Mrs Poh said: “Saying goodbye is never easy. But I must say this is a good place in the school’s history, or calendar, to hand over the reins to someone else. There are so many possibilities.”
While the new campus is about 2.5ha larger than the old location in Anderson Road, Mrs Poh said the new intake of Sec 1 students next year would remain consistent at about 400.
RGS is considering offering the Raffles Scholarship, alongside RI.
Said Mrs Poh: “There is a requirement for one-to-one matching for the Raffles Scholarship – it was a request for donors. We were not able to do the matching because all our funds went to the new campus, but it is definitely something we’re looking at now.
“There are also other means of supporting students that we can consider, like creating our own schemes with other donors.”
RGS old girl Peggy Looi, who was part of a team that authored and sold a cookbook to help the school’s fund-raising efforts, was there at the opening.
The 57-year-old, who as a student sang with the school choir, said the funds her team raised went towards building the new performing arts centre, which consists of an auditorium and black box with state-of-the-art equipment, among other facilities.
The school also has an innovation hub that provides students with resources such as unmanned vehicles or drones, 3D-printers and research laboratory equipment.
Said Ms Looi, who is now an adjunct lecturer at the Singapore University of Social Sciences: “I’m excited to be coming back and I’m glad the new location is near RI – not for any funny reasons, but because it would be more convenient for the girls.”
She explained that when her daughter, also an RGS alumna, was in school, she had to frequently travel to RI for some programmes.
The school had previously said that being situated opposite RI would also provide for closer collaborations between the two schools.
Chinese teacher Zhang Hao, who has spent 22 of her 30 years as an educator teaching in RGS, said she has many fond memories of the old campus, but is looking forward to the fresh start.
Said Madam Zhang: “The staff used to be split into four departments but now there’s a new, big, combined staff room. I’m very excited for what’s to come.”
The 140-year-old school, which had been at its site off Stevens Road since 1959, had to be relocated, as the campus, built for about 1,700 students, was no longer adequate and the land lease was coming to an end.
From Orchard Road to Toa Payoh
Moving to the heartland also signifies a closer bond with the community.
“Moving away from the luxurious condominiums in Orchard Road will allow our girls to reach out more to the ordinary Singaporean,” said an RGS spokesman.
While some residents from the Braddell View condominium next door are not bothered by their new neighbour, some are concerned about the traffic situation in the morning.
“When the carparks are full in school, some parents might come to the estate to park instead,” said Madam Smitha Paul. “But on the other hand, transportation might improve with more buses now that there is a school.”
Other residents, like a former school teacher who wanted to be known only as Mrs Frances, thinks the move is “brilliant”.
“The school will bring a lot of life into the area,” she said.
The school has plans to expand a mentorship programme that matches RGS students with pupils of primary schools in the area.
Marymount Convent, First Toa Payoh Primary and Kheng Cheng are three primary schools currently in the programme called Triple C, which stands for care, collaboration and community.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times and The New Paper.
(Photos: The Straits Times)
Which is better: Co-ed schools or all-boys/girls’ schools?
St Andrew’s, Temasek, Bowen among 28 secondary schools to start subject-based banding from 2020
These secondary schools offer unusual DSA talent areas: Forensic science, coding
Mum prefers her kids not to mix with Normal stream students; gets flamed by netizens