What sparks your pre-school pick?
We always feel safe when there's a valid verdict to fall back on. Does MOE’s latest accreditation system, SPARK, make choosing a pre-school much easier then?
SINGAPORE – As reported in The Straits Times, the MOE's new Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK) will apparently act as a guiding hand for parents to choose a good pre-school. MOE implemented the system recently to boost the levels of efficiency at pre-schools across the island. This certification however, is not compulsory, and there are pre-schools that are not "certified", which still offer great education and services. So what does a SPARK certification really tell you about a pre-school? And to what extent should that influence your decision?
SPARK uses a tier-based system, where pre-schools have to obtain an initial license which ensures that the school provides a minimum standard of operation. The school must also carry out regular self-appraisals. A Quality Rating Scale then leverages how well the school is performing. There are seven core areas that are looked into and examined; Leadership, Planning & Administration, Staff Management, Resources, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Health, Hygiene & Safety.
In other words, every school that is SPARK accredited will leave you with an assured level of quality, a clean and safe environment, a well-planned curriculum, well-trained teachers, quality amenities and good future planning and administration. Can this act as the base behind your child’s first step into education?
When asked what is vital when choosing a preschool, most parents were concerned about the way teachers deal with their young ones. “Some pre-school’s have highly qualified teachers, but they are really rude to the kids,” says Sukhbir Gill, who has a three-year-old son.
So when it comes to dealing with kids, can a good level of accreditation really determine a welcoming learning environment? Lishan Chong, mum of three, states, “High qualifications are not on my list”. Others however want their kids to have a safe environment, a good grasp on the English language and want a pre-school close to their work or home."
Jackie Seah, a former pre-school teacher from Learning Vision (SPARK accredited) begs to differ. “Most mums go for brands, so an accredited school will definitely be on the top of the list when picking a pre-school.” She also emphasizes the importance of the name and reputation of the school.
Parents might however have other interests in mind. According to Preetha D’Mello, Kindergarten Coordinator at Global Indian International School, one that hasn’t received the SPARK stamp yet, the most important thing that a parent looks for is the safety standards and the student-teacher ratio.
SPARK is definitely a good assurance of various levels of quality within a pre-school, however finding one that both you and your child are comfortable with is key. As a parent, does this accreditation matter to you?
(Additional reporting and writing by Anjali D'Mello)