By Tiffany Gwee
EtonHouse International is set to operate in a new pre-school campus being built in Thomson. This is no ordinary pre-school campus – it will consist of an outdoor playing area of a massive 15000 square metres (the size of 2 football fields). EtonHouse also claimed that their new campus will be “Singapore’s largest pre-school campus”. The campus will offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, which adopts an “Inquire-Think-Learn” approach.
The outdoor space will include playgrounds, gardens, dining areas and a swimming pool. While many other pre-schools are looking into indoor areas due to space constraints, EtonHouse International is set to expand outdoors.
(Photos taken from EtonHouse’s official website)
Health Benefits of Large Outdoor Space
The total land area of the new campus is twice the area of their present Orchard campus and the students there are expected to move in to their new campus by August when it opens.
According to local news sources, EtonHouse group managing director Mr. Ng Gim Choo said that the outdoor area will allow children to “engage the world through their senses and develop an awareness of their surroundings”. Trained occupational therapist Dr. May Lim also emphasised the presence of “health benefits” of outdoor play as children will have more opportunity to hone their “motor skills”.
Of course, there is a price to pay for the availability of such a big open play area- school fees can cost up from $18000 to $22800 per year, before GST.
It is definitely more expensive compared to other pre-schools here in Singapore, which can range from less than $300 a month to more than $2000 (like EtonHouse in this case). From what I can see from EtonHouse’s website, their high fees seem to be justified by the more unique type of learning experience a child will go through in school.
They operate with an “inquiry-based” learning approach and young children there are “respected as competent thinkers and communicators who are offered many opportunities to engage with a range of resources” that “challenge their thinking”.
However, is this really worth the price paid for pre-school?
Lack of Space
Another question to consider might be the feasibility of taking up such a big area to build their campus. With many other pre-school centres already unable to find a space to operate, how will this be fair to those who cannot afford to pay exorbitant prices for their child’s pre-school education?
It can be said that there are many other more affordable schools available, but the opportunity costs of using up so much land that could have been used to build more pre-school centres is quite considerable.
Singapore already has land constraints and building a preschool that will span a total of 200,000 square feet will just add on to the contest for space in the preschool sector.
Needless to say, the fact that EtonHouse International is only catered for higher income families definitely does not help alleviate the issue of the lack of space.