Established in 1879, Raffles Girls’ School (RGS) is today a beacon of educational excellence, attracting the best students from all walks of Singapore and Internationally.
The growth of RGS is largely attributed to the commitment of individuals who were passionate about the education of girls in an era where the provision of academic education for girls was considered unimportant.
RGS’ humble beginnings can be traced to the dedicated committee of eight ladies that was determined to rescue orphans and very poor girls from vice and provide them with care and protection through education. Their efforts to set up a Girls’ School attached to the Singapore Institution (later renamed Raffles Institution) were supported by Mrs Cavenagh, the wife of the Straits Settlement Governor, and who later became the School’s Patron. It was their labour and dedication which enabled RGS to make steady progress in pupil enrolment and established RGS’ status as a distinguished educational institution in Singapore.
The commitment of good people, many of whom remained unsung heroes, was to continue to be a major factor which helped to shape RGS into what it is today – a premier girls’ school, a centre of excellence and a global name in education.
Key Historical Milestones
1880 – 1884
Miss N. Nelson
The first certified Headmistress of RGS
Laid the cornerstone on which RGS would develop into a dominant presence in the local education scene
1879RGS was officially established with an enrolment of 77 pupils
1900RGS attained the status of an English High School, offering Latin as a subject which proved useful to girls aspiring to become doctors and lawyers
1903RGS became a Government School.
The Government set the standard of education and appointed efficient civil servants to run
1904 – 1910
Pushed for the start of a training establishment where the pupils could be trained to be teachers
1910 – 1937
Miss Dorothy M Buckle
The longest serving Principal in RGS history
Emphasised proper decorum for pupil behaviour
Placed emphasis on scholarship and advancement in education
1928RGS moved to Queen Street
1930RGS became a full-fledged girls’ school and stopped admitting boys to the lower and middle forms
1939 – 1942
Mrs K Waddle
Chose to remain in Singapore when war broke out because of her dedication to her job. When she left on the last evacuation boat just before the Japanese occupied Singapore, she drowned when the boat was torpedoed
1946 – 1950
Miss M M Hadley
Restored RGS to her pre-war standards
Produced academic achievements and success in music, drama and sports and laid the foundation for the strong presence of music and drama in the RGS culture today
Introduced the House System to develop the sense of belonging to the school for pupils.The five houses were named after the former Principals in tribute
1950Developed the arts and sports programmes at RGS
1951 – 1957
Miss Cecily Hinchliffe
Developed the RGS ethos and culture: Weekly Assemblies, School Motto, School Song, Speech Day Ceremony.
Championed the all-round development of pupils.
1958 – 1961
Miss M N Oehlers
Was responsible for the separation of the Secondary School from the Primary School.
Oversaw the move of the Secondary School to its new premises in Anderson Road and introduced ‘two session’ school to cope with increased enrolment.
Emphasised the importance of good character in RGS girls, outlining Honesty, Courtesy and Charity as essential qualities in the girls.
1959RGS moved to the new school building at Anderson Road.
1961Enrolment increased to 1,390 , and am/pm ‘school session’ was introduced
1961 – 1976
Miss N E Norris
Believed in the all round education and leadership training for pupils.
Upgraded the school premises.
Promoted extra-curricular activities in RGS.
Encouraged financially disadvantaged girls to attend the school.
1980 – 1988
Mrs Chee Keng Soon
Introduced job attachments, talks and other activities outside of school to further develop the character and leadership abilities of pupils.
Encouraged classes to visit welfare organisations as part of community services.
Promoted and provided ample opportunities for pupils to develop their creative talents in music, drama, art and languages and initiated the RGS Nite.
1984RGS offered the Gifted Education Programme.
1988 – 1999
Mrs Carmee Lim
Championed a learning environment that promoted creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Affirmed the School Values with RGS staff.
Created an IT infrastructure and network to develop and enhance learning for pupils.
1993RGS became an Independent School.
1999 – 2007
Mrs Deborah Tan
Played an instrumental role in nurturing the ideals of scholarship in the pupils.
Positioned RGS as a school for the gifted and talented.
2004RGS implemented the Raffles Programme.
2007 – 2012
Mrs Julie Hoo
Initiated the 1st Homecoming for alumni as part of the Anniversary celebrations.
Initiated the Alumni Tribute Series for Alumni to give back to the school and society.
Saw RGS through RI-RJC merger, maintaining RGS’ distinctive identity and heritage as a premier school for girls.
Established Singapore’s first one-stop learning centre for scientific research, national education, community service, teacher training and international exchange.
Set up a community of interested educators from different disciplines to share resources, training and consultancy for field studies.
Set up Singapore’s first educational research centre within a school with a team of 4 Teacher-Specialists, led by a Director.
Initiated a total pay review and job evaluation for RGS, in order to ensure that RGS stays competitive in the job market.
Facilitated by Aon Hewitt, the review covered both Teaching Staff and the EAS.
RD is a certification that recognises student participation and achievements in five development domains: Cognitive, Character and Leadership, Community and Citizenship, Arts and Aesthetics, Sports and Health.
The first F1 Centre for Innovation set up by a girls school, the RGS F1 Centre for Innovation promotes pupil learning and engagement, particulary among female pupils in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The new RGS campus, to be ready in 2018, will provide for the space and facilities required to deliver innovative curriculum and programmes to better support the school’s teaching and learning goals. To be located along Braddell Road opposite RI, the new campus will allow for better planning of schedules for common programmes between the two schools while retaining RGS’ independence and distinctive heritage.
Agreement with the University of Birmingham that will see RI and RGS Year 3 Raffles Academy music students embark on the University of Birmingham's first year undergraduate music curriculum beginning in 2013.
2009RGS celebrated her 130th anniversary.
RGS maintained partnership with the ‘merged’ RI.
RGS set up Wallace Environmental Learning Laboratory (WELL) at the Dairy Farm Nature Park.
2010RGS set up the WELL- Community of Teachers (WELLCoT).
RGS launched RGS-Pedagogical Research Lab (PeRL).
2011RGS initiated the Human Resource Consultancy project.
Raffles Diploma (RD) launched.
2012RGS launched the F1 Centre for Innovation.
Announced New Campus for RGS in 2018.
Signed MOU with the University of Birmingham.
2012 – Present
Mrs Poh Mun See
In moving the school forward and in light of new challenges within the education landscape, RGS embarked on an envisioning exercise that will guide the school through the next five years. RGS senior and middle management, in consultation with staff, students and parents and working with a professional consultant developed and updated the school framework in developing a more relevant, integrated programme to nurture the high ability student, setting the stage for RGS to scale to even greater heights in achieving our vision, as a school, to be active creators of a better age.
2013 saw two large-scale fund raising events for the New Campus (2018):
1. Launch of “Consuming Passion” cookbook by RGS alumni with proceeds from the sale of the book going towards the new campus development fund. Guest-of-Honour for the event was Former President of Singapore, Mr S R Nathan.
2. New Campus Fund Raising Banquet held at the Orchard Hotel. Guest-of-Honour for the event was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
RGS celebrated her 135th Anniversary in 2014. To commemorate this milestone, RGS students were invited to present a logo design for the 135th Anniversary.
On 2 August, close to a thousand alumni, former principals, deputy principals, teachers and staff returned to RGS for Homecoming III and the school’s 135 Anniversary celebrations. The RGS Spirit was experienced in full as the RGS community came together and shared memories of their time with each other.
2013Strategic Envisioning for 2014 – 2018.
New Campus Fund Raising.
2014RGS 135th Anniversary.
RGS Homecoming III.