Tanjong Katong Secondary School

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Tanjong Katong Secondary School
丹绒加东中学 (Dānróng Jiādōng Zhōngxué)
Crest TK.png
Tanjong Katong
Type Autonomous, Co-educational
Motto Diligentia, Ingenium, Dexteritas
(Diligence, Ingenuity, Dexterity [2])
Established 1956
Session Single
School code 3512
Principal Mrs Dolly Ong[1]
Deputy Principals Koh Tong Seah (Mr)
Patsy Ong (Mrs)[1]
Gender Mixed
Enrolment Approximately 1000
Houses Einstein, Da Vinci, Tagore, Rutherford
Colour(s)          Green, White
Team name Team TK

Tanjong Katong Secondary School, affectionately known as TK, is an autonomous co-educational school located in Katong Mountbatten, Singapore. Before its autonomous status, the school was named by the Ministry of Education (MOE) as the 'Best Non-Independent and Non-Autonomous Secondary School' in Singapore. TK was presented the 'Ministry of Education's School Excellence Award in 2007 and 2011, which recognises "excellence in both education processes and outcomes".,[3] and is regarded as one of the Top non-Integrated Programme (IP) secondary schools in Singapore. The school celebrated its Golden Jubilee - '50 years of establishment' in 2006, with Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong as the Guest-of-Honour.


TK students on a field trip
Assembly Plaza

History of Tanjong Katong Secondary School[edit]

The school was founded in 1956 as Tanjong Katong Technical School (TKT), the boys-only counterpart to Tanjong Katong Girls' School (TKGS), which was located next door. At first it occupied a plot of swampy marsh next to the river Tanjong Katong. The address of 369 Tanjong Katong Road was among a belt of upper-middle suburban housing and old Joo Chiat and Katong shophouses nearby. In the early years, it was Tanjong Katong Secondary Technical School, teaching technical subjects such as metal work, steel work, technical drawing, science, physics, English and vernacular studies (Tang, 2005; Tanjong Katong Secondary School, 2014). At that time, there was a common misconception about technical schools that only less-academically inclined boys attended. Nevertheless, the school was considered the top technical school then. In 1969 TKT began to take in female students.

The added competition of neighbouring secondary schools in the Katong area also meant that TKT had to fare better academically as most families had originally automatically sent their children to the nearest school. The option of having Pre-U classes helped, and the school population soared to an all-time high of 5000 in 1979.

For some years the school was called Tanjong Katong Secondary Technical School. In 1993 the school was renamed Tanjong Katong Secondary School because TKT was losing its technical focus and was focusing on offering mainstream curriculum like Humanities and Science.

In 1996, the school took over the premises of the neighbouring TKGS and began operating single-session.

In 1998 the school moved to its new premises at 130 Haig Road. The distance between 369 Tanjong Katong and 130 Haig Road is only 550 meters. Hence, the new school is still located in the same neighborhood as the old school. The current building of Tanjong Katong Secondary School is located between Tanjong Katong road and Haig road. The previous location of Tanjong Katong Secondary School at 369 Tanjong Katong road once became Katong Student Hostel (One Historical Map, 2016). This hostel was built in year 2003, five years after Tanjong Katong Secondary School moved to the new location. In 2011, it was the biggest student hostel in that area with 14 blocks and accommodated up to 600 students. It had several activities organized for the students, such as Friday movie screening at basketball court and yearly in-house student outing (Xiaoya, 2011). Currently, it is no longer a student hostel and becomes a state’s property (Security of the former Katong Student Hostel, 2017). Previously, 130 Haig road was where the former Dunman High School was located (One Historical Map, 2016). Dunman High School was built on 130 Haig Road in October 1956. In year 1994-1996, Dunman High School was relocated to 10 Tanjung Rhu road (One Historical Map, 2016).

The following year, TK was one of the pioneering schools to be awarded the Sustained Achievement Award when the award was first introduced. The opening ceremony of the new campus was held in 2000. The school became one of the Top 20 Value-Added schools in 2001. In 2003, it was presented with the Sustained Achievement Award for Value-Added. In 2004, the school made headlines when its graduating cohort of students achieved a 98% distinction rate for Chemistry in the GCE 'O' Level examinations, the highest ever in Singapore. [4]

In 2004 the school was accorded Autonomous status. Following the new status came the School Distinction Award; the school was one of the pioneer 12 schools to be given the award. Another addition that year was the presentation of Singapore Quality Class status in recognition of the efficient organisation of the school. The academic curriculum in the school was recognised when it received the Best Practice Award for Teaching and Learning. Other areas were recognised with the achievements of Sustained Achievement Awards for Physical Fitness, Uniformed Groups and Value-Added.

In 2006 the school celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong joined in the celebration as the Guest-of-Honour. The school was presented the Sustained Achievement Award for Aesthetics and Best Practice Award for Student All-Round Development. The school band, Tanjong Katong Band, won the Best Display Band of The Year award for 10 years running, a feat no other secondary school in Singapore has achieved.

TK was presented the School Excellence Award in 2007 and 2011. This is the most prestigious and the highest status of awards given by MOE. The school made headlines again as it is the 8th secondary school to be presented the award, alongside many top schools in Singapore.

History of Katong Area[edit]

Initially, Katong area, which included Mountbatten, Tanjong Katong, and Joo Chiat Road, was a coconut plantation cultivated by Francis Bernard, the son-in-law of the first British Resident in Singapore, William Farquhar. Coconut was the selected crop since it could grow well in the sandy soil of that area. In the early 1900s, a Chinese merchant, Chew Joo Chiat bought the area and tried cultivating other variety of crops, such as gambier, pepper and nutmeg. Then, in 1920s to 1930s, large bungalows were built along the Meyer Road, Mountbatten Road, all the way to Siglap for seaside getaways. Around this time, some of Katong’s most famous establishment were founded, such as Singapore Swimming Club and Saint Patrick's School, Singapore. Katong became the area of settlement of the well-off, English speaking community, most of them were Eurasians and Peranakan (Tanjong Katong Secondary School Heritage Lab, 2014).

Katong area that is covered in the history of Tanjong Katong Secondary School

Shophouse along Tanjong Katong road already existed since Japanese occupation of Singapore in 1942-1945. On those days, the shophouses on Tanjong Katong road that stretched from Wilkinson road to Goodman road were used to house the Comfort women from Korea and Indonesia. This area was prone to flooding during high tide until the river was deepened in 1994 (Cornelius, 2004). After the Japanese Occupation, the beach was severely polluted with debris, grease and unexploded bombs. Nevertheless, people still visited the seaside escape in Katong for fun-gatherings (Tanjong Katong Secondary School Heritage Lab, 2014).

After the independence of Singapore, land reclamation and construction of Marine Parade complex took place. The seaside bungalows were also replaced by modern housing. In 1993, finally Joo Chiat was designated a conservation zone to preserve the heritage of the old Katong (Tanjong Katong Secondary School Heritage Lab, 2014).

Chinese Middle School Riot[edit]

Both schools were built in the year when the situation in Singapore was chaotic due to the agitation for independence from British colonial ruler and labor unrest. Chinese middle schools riots, which was rooted in Chinese students feeling discriminated and backed up by pro-communist organizations, also took place in that year (Dunman High School, 2016; National Library Board, 2017). Hence, the former Dunman High School, namely Kallang West Government Chinese Middle School, was established to provide a place to study for the students that had no intention to be involved in communism and the riot (KatongHomes, n.d.). There was no record of any direct relation between the riot and Tanjong Katong Secondary School. Nevertheless, the riot threatened the security of Katong area. For instance, the students participating in the riot and the communist leaders threw stones at police vehicles in Katong areas (Quah, 2007).



On the crest of the school is a picture of Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the most versatile geniuses of modern times. He was both a scientist and an artist. Leonardo represents a man with an 'all-round' education. The symbolism of 'flight' in the school's emblem, seen in the bird and flying machine, instills in the students the desire to beyond the realms of ordinary education and to achieve goals, which no one has dared to dream before.[2]


The four houses, named after Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rabindranath Tagore, and Ernest Rutherford, are represented by the colours red, purple, blue and yellow respectively.

Year 1 students are sorted into houses by class. The results from interhouse sports and academic competitions are summed up in a yearly points system. House allocations used to be student-based, instead of class-based.


TK uniform (2005)

Male students wear white short-sleeved shirts. The school badge is on the top right corner of the breast pocket. Lower Secondary boys wear white short trousers and do not need to wear belts. Upper Secondary boys wear white long pants with black buckled belts.

Female students wear a short-sleeved blouse with the school badge on the left at the front of the uniform. The sleeves of the blouse are folded to differentiate TK girls from other schools that have a similar uniform. The skirt is jade-green in colour with box pleats. The TK girl's uniform was designed by one of its first female students, Ms Lim Soo Lan.

The school tie (green with yellow stripes) is worn every Monday from morning assembly until the first recess


The picture of the old building of Tanjong Katong Secondary School

Based on the photo and the old drawing of the school, it seems like octagonal structure of the school building is only found in the current building. A possible reason behind the incorporation of an octagonal structure in the school's building can be related to Leonardo da Vinci's obsession on octagon. Leonardo used many octagonal structure in his drawings and architectural works. He regarded octagon as an expression of grandeur and practicality in spatial design and development (Reynolds, 2008). Since Tanjong Katong Secondary School establishes many associations with Leonardo da Vinci, such as the use of da Vinci's picture on the school's crest and naming one of the houses as Leonardo da Vinci, octagonal structure perhaps was also introduced to the school building to symbolize the school's association with da Vinci.

The current building of Tanjong Katong Secondary School (year 2017)

However, besides the school, there are other octagonal buildings in Singapore, such as Lau Pa Sat and Tangs. The trend of using octagonal structure comes from the European culture introduced by the British in Singapore. For instance, the octagonal structure of Lau Pa Sat that is preserved until today was designed by a British architect named George Drumgoole Coleman (Singapore Tourism Board, 2017). It can also be attributed to Chinese belief that octagonal shape will bring fortune to the occupants, as eight in Chinese dialect is pronounced as “fa”, which means to prosper (Chia, Huang, Tan, Wong & Wong, n.d.).

Student Life[edit]

Student Life in the Early Days[edit]

In the early days of Tanjong Katong Secondary School, around 1960s, many of the students were good at sports, such as football and rugby. The teachers did not have high academic expectation on the students and were satisfied with them passing O Level examination.

Employment agency in Katong Shopping Centre.

The teachers did not beat the students that had caused troubles, but the principals sometimes did so and sent letters to the students’ parents (Tang, 2005). In that period, 40-50% of the students were Malays (Tang, 2005). This may be due to the location of the school that is very close to Marine Parade, which was considered as Malay Ethnic enclave, especially before the implementation of ethnic integration policy that aims to promote racial integration in Housing and Development Board estates (Lai, 1995; Loo, Shi & Sun, 2003; ). The higher percentage of Malays residing in the eastern part of the city can also be traced back to the British colonialism period, where the British allocated that area to the Malays (Sim et al., 2003).

In 1970s, the students of Tanjong Katong Secondary School used to get their books and stationary in Katong News Agency. The 7-11 near the school, one of the first few 7-11 in the east, was opened during this period. Hence, the queue for Slurpee and Big Gulp in that 7-11 at that time was very long. They went for shopping and hangout in Katong Shopping Centre, one of the first few air-conditioned malls in Singapore. Later in 1980s, new shopping malls such as Parkway Parade were built and become the new place for the students to hangout. However, sometimes they still went to Katong Shopping Centre to eat and photocopy (Wong, 2014). Nowadays, there are not many students hanging out at Katong Shopping Centre anymore since most of the shops have become employment agencies.

Student Life Nowadays[edit]

Talent Management[edit]

Principal's Honours List[edit]

The Principal's Honours List (PHL) was developed in tandem with TK's mission in nurturing students to their fullest potential. Students on the PHL are regarded as the top students of the skill that embody the values of the school and epitomises the TK Graduate. Students on the PHL strive to be role-models in both academic and non academic arenas.[5]

Leadership Development Opportunities[edit]

PHL students will have a teacher-mentor monitoring their development throughout the year. Year 2 and 3 PHL students will undergo a mass training on Project Management. They will choose between being a National Education Ambassador or a Project Manager of the school's Campus ChangeMakers (CCM) Programme. A select 15 PHL students will form the panel of the CCM Grant, a programme by the National Youth Council . As the CCM Panelists, they will be assessing community service project grant applications supported by their peers. Year 4 PHL students will attend an annual mass training on Effective Communication and Presentation Skills.[5]

Co-Curricular Activities (CCA)[edit]
Band practice
An inter-class sports event

Tanjong Katong Band[edit]

The school band, Tanjong Katong Band (TK Band), as representation, is the pride and joy of the school. The TK Band has its roots in the school bands of former Tanjong Katong Technical School (now Tanjong Katong Secondary School) and Tanjong Katong Girls' School. The bands started separately in 1965 with only 26 members. In 1967, the two bands came together for a combined performance that marked the beginning of their long and close relationship. The combined band known as The TK Brass Band achieved a critical mass in terms of membership, and was able to take on more challenging music and more ambitious outdoor displays. Under the leadership of their first Bandmistress, Miss Irene Joseph, the band grew by leaps and bounds. By 1972, it won its first Mace of Honour, an award given only to the top three school bands each year. The Band's versatility has been proven over the years as it has also done well on the concert stage and in many indoor competitions.

When the band split in 1989, with TKGS going its own way, Miss Irene Joseph continued to lead the TK Band until she retired in 1992. The band continued to achieve top honours under her tenure. However, the winning streak came only in 1998 and it was also the same year that TK Band changed its uniforms. TK Band made history by winning the same award in 2000, the first (and so far only) band to do so. Achieving the Display Band of the Year award in 1998 and 2000, the band created headlines again in 2002 when it became the first band to walk away with two top honours awards in outdoor band competitions with both the Display Band of the Year and Best Drum Major awards, the first band to do so. The band received the award for the fifth consecutive time in 2006 (the competition is held every alternate year), a feat no other secondary school bands have ever achieved in Singapore. The TK Band is now the only secondary school band taking part in the Outdoor and Indoor competitions and achieving the Gold Award for both. In December 2006, the TK Band alumni started the Irene Joseph Award in honour of their first Bandmistress, Miss Irene Joseph. In 2012, TK Band clinched the Gold with Honours award at the SYF Central Judging of Display Bands with their piece "Classical Journey", winning the "Display Band of the Year" award with a MOE cash incentive of S$30,000. In 2014, the band clinched the Distinction and "Display Band of the Year" award with their performance "Garden in the City" at the SYF Central Judging of Display Bands. In 2016, TK band won the Certificate of distinction ( as there is no "Display Band of the Year" award that year) with their performance TK diamond jubilee to celebrate Tanjong Katong Secondary School's 60th anniversary. The presence of the Tanjong Katong Band can also be felt outside the school band scene. Since established, it has represented the republic in several overseas events and International Bands' festivals. At home, the band has also been invited to several major events. In 1998, the band was invited to put up a solo performance in the National Day Parade (NDP), the first ever for any school band. It also appeared on National Day Parades 2002, 2004 (during the pre-parade segments in both years), NDP 2012, Chingay Parades, etc., in solo performances. In 2014, TK Band was invited to play at the Taoyuan Band Festival in Taiwan (Republic of China). TK Band was also invited to play at the Singapore Youth Festival Opening Ceremony 2014 held at Gardens by the Bay.

Tanjong Katong Choir[edit]

The Tanjong Katong Choir (TK Choir) is another jewel of the school. It is currently one of the few secondary school Choral-Excellence Choirs in Singapore. Formed in 1992 and within a short timespan of just 7 years, it was crowned Top Secondary School Choir in the 1999 SYF Competition. The TK Choir has also represented Singapore in various International Choral Competitions, bringing home Gold Awards to its name. The Choir has constantly been selected as the recording choir for major events and parades in Singapore. It won a Gold with Honours award in the 2005 SYF and proved itself again at the 2007 SYF by clinching the title yet again.

In July 2007, the TK Choir went to The Voyage of Songs in Pattaya, Thailand, participating in the Open Mix and the Children's Choir categories. In the Open Mix, TK Choir got 4th place, beating arch rivals Catholic High, and in the Children's Choir, TK Choir was crowned champions. TK choir ended up being the 2nd Best Singaporean Choir next to Victoria Junior College Choir, even beating other Junior College Choirs.

The recent competition that they participated was the Grand Prix held in Saint-Petersburg, Russia from 17 June to 23 June 2008, participating in the Under 19 Choirs and Folklore categories. TK Choir managed to clinch high golds for the two categories that they took part in. One category, namely Under 19 Choirs, even attained full marks with the conductor, Mr Nelson Kwei, and was 2nd only to the National University of Singapore.

In 2011, as part of the annual Jubilate Festival of Choirs, TK Choir participated in a choral exam by the London Music of College and attained a Distinction of 88 out of 100 for a Level Three exam.

In 2014, TK Choir took part in Asia Cantate in Hong Kong, got gold 3, and emerged as the category champions. They also went for yet, another London Music of College Choral Examination in 2015 and score a high distinction of 93 points, becoming the first Secondary School Choir to get a high distinction in a Level 5 Examination(The highest grade).

Both the TK Band and TK Choir are presently the Gold with Honours awardees.

Tanjong Katong Computer Club[edit]

The TK Computer Club is regarded as one of the premier Infocomm clubs in Singapore, and is one of the only schools with a top technology club not under the Infocomm Clubs policy under the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). The club achieved the 3rd position at the 2011 National Infocomm Competition, beating rivals Raffles Institution. The club was the champion of the Singapore Games Creation Competition (SGCC) hosted by Nanyang Polytechnic in 2011 and 2012, 2nd place in the 2012 National Software Competition and has claimed numerous awards from Singapore's Mobile Animation Challenge. For their efforts, the club was invited to the opening of the Sony Games Solution Centre for game creation research.

Tanjong Katong Floorball[edit]

Tanjong Katong Floorball Girls have been bringing back glory to the school even though the CCA is new. There are no boys floorball team in Tanjong Katong. Tanjong Katong Girls Floorball Team have been gaining Top 4 Positions in the past years.

Notable alumni[edit]




  • Dr Kevin Lee: Co-founder, Luminous Dental dental chain

Entertainment and The Arts[edit]


  • Lim Tong Hai: Former captain, Singapore national football team

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "http://tanjongkatongsec.moe.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/people/school_management_committee.html". tanjongkatongsec.moe.edu.sg. Retrieved 5 January 2017.  External link in |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b "Our Vision and Motto" (PDF). Tanrong Karong Secondary School. 
  3. ^ "School Excellence Award (SEA)" (Press release). Ministry of Education. 28 September 2004. 
  4. ^ "Our Rich Heritage" (PDF). Tanjong Katong Secondary School. 
  5. ^ a b "Talent Management" (PDF). Tanjong Katong Secondary School. 
  1. http://tanjongkatongsec.moe.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/people/school_management_committee.html". tanjongkatongsec.moe.edu.sg. Retrieved 5 January 2017. External link in |title= (help)
  2. Chia, S., Huang, G., Tan, S., Wong, P., & Wong, S. (n.d.). Tangs Plaza and Marriot Hotel. Retrieved from http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/gem-projects/maa/Landscapes_of_Mathematical_Interest_in_Singapore/main.html
  3. Cornelius, V. (n.d.). Tanjong Katong. Retrieved from http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_829_2005-01-18.html
  4. Dunman High School. (2016). Chapter 01: Born in the Troubled Fifties: 14 Oct 1956. Retrieved from http://dunmanhigh.moe.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/website/school-history-55th-anniversary/chapter-01-born-in-the-troubled-fifties-14-oct-1956/index.html
  5. Katong Homes. (n.d.). Dunman High School. Retrieved from https://katonghomes.com/living-in-katong/education-schools-in-katong/dunman-high-school/
  6. Lai. (1995). Meanings of Multiethnicity.
  7. Loo, L., Shi, M., & Sun, S. (2003). Public housing and ethnic integration in Singapore. Habitat International, 27, 293-307.
  8. National Library Board. (2014). Ethnic Integration Policy is Implemented. Retrieved from http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/history/events/d8fea656-d86e-4658-9509-974225951607
  9. One Historical Map. (2016). Katong Student Hostel. Retrieved from https://ohm.onemap.sg/#/index/main
  10. One Historical Map. (2016). Tanjong Katong Secondary School. Retrieved from https://ohm.onemap.sg/#/index/main
  11. "Our Rich Heritage" (PDF). Tanjong Katong Secondary School.
  12. "Our Vision and Motto" (PDF). Tanrong Karong Secondary School.
  13. Quah, I. (2007, January 27). The Communists in Singapore and Malaya. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/mrsirvinglong/the-communists-in-singapore-and-malaya1
  14. "School Excellence Award (SEA)" (Press release). Ministry of Education. 28 September 2004.
  15. Singapore Tourism Board. (2017). Lau Pa Sat. Retrieved from http://www.yoursingapore.com/see-do-singapore/architecture/historical/lau-pa-sat.html
  16. "Talent Management" (PDF). Tanjong Katong Secondary School.
  17. Tang, K. (2012, January 3). Political History in Singapore 1985-2005 [Interview by C. Yeo]. Retrieved from http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/viewer?uuid=bf3502fe-1160-11e3-83d5-0050568939ad-OHC002936_001
  18. Tanjong Katong Secondary School. (2014). Our Rich Heritage. Retrieved from http://tanjongkatongsec.moe.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/about_us/our_rich_heritage.html
  19. Tanjong Katong Secondary School. (2014). Tanjong Katong Secondary School Heritage Lab.
  20. Wong, L. (2014, October 11). More ways to learn about Singapore's heritage. Retrieved from https://www.mccy.gov.sg/en/news/speeches/2014/Oct/TKSS_Heritage_Lab.aspx
  21. Xiaoya. (2011, October 13). Katong Student Hostel. Retrieved from http://www.65hostel.com/news/20111013/1200.html