The British Council has worked closely with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) since its foundation in 1979. The SSO was founded along with the Singapore Cultural Foundation. These would become valued partners for the British Council's arts activities in the years to come. The Singapore Cultural Foundation, together with the Ministry’s Cultural Affairs Division and the National Theatre Trust, are the predecessors of the National Arts Council (NAC).
The year 1979 to 1980 proved to be the most noteworthy in the British Council's 33-year existence in Singapore. From the Prime Minister downwards, government leaders called upon the British Council for assistance in English Language Teaching (ELT), education, cultural and library development and, as a result of rapid and successful responses to their requests, the British Council became increasingly involved in many sectors of Singapore life.
The late Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Minister for Education, Singapore, opened our Collyer Quay premises at the Singapore Rubber House in the presence pf the Director-General of the British Council, Sir John Llewellyn, in February 1979.
From 1982 to 1986, we continued our co-operation with the Public Service Commission in sending Singaporeans for varying types of training in the UK, as well as operating its own scholarships and visitors schemes. In 1986, there were 85 such awards.
The British Council assisted Lim Yau, the Assistant Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), to participate in an advanced course in conducting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1982 to 1983. This was part of the British Council's close involvement in Singapore art scene.
In 1983, we won a contract from the Ministry of Education to set up the College of Physical Education, which later merged with the Institute of Education to form the National Institute of Education (NIE). The British Council was closely involved in planning and developing the Centre for Computer Studies, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which was opened on 4 March 1983. The Centre was renamed as the School of InfoComm Technology (ICT) in 2003.
The Educational Counselling Service (ECS) was set up in 1984 to counteract the effects of charging full fees to overseas students in Britain. The ECS organised the British Education Exhibitions or Study in Britain Exhibitions in Singapore every year from 1988. Today the ECS is part of the Education Team and they organise the annual Education UK Exhibition.
The late Dr Tay Eng Soon, then Minister of State for Education, was at the cut the sod ceremony for the Napier Road building in 1986. On 16 April 1988, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, then Minister for Education of Singapore, currently the 7th President of Singapore, officially opened the new British Council at 30 Napier Road, at the invitation of the Director-General of the British Council, Sir Richard Francis.
In 1988, British Alumni Singapore was formally inaugurated with full support from British Council Singapore.