All parents want the best for their children. That’s why it is so important to set standards when you start looking for an infant care centre or preschool for your little ones.
As far as preschools are concerned, SPARK certification should be among your main considerations. But what exactly is SPARK and how do preschools who have this certification differ?
Introducing SPARK: What is it?
SPARK is the acronym for the Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework. This is a framework launched by the Ministry of Education in 2010 to assess and help preschools raise their quality of services, and currently falls under the purview of the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).
SPARK serves as a general guide for preschools to know what they should be striving to achieve. It provides a benchmark for preschools to measure themselves against. In addition, it also supports and recognises preschools that strive for excellence.
Preschools usually display SPARK banners or plaques prominently at their centres. This allows parents to easily identify these preschools, and are testament to the quality assurance of its services.
How are preschools assessed?
There are 4 tiers in SPARK’s framework when it comes to assessing preschools:
- Tier 1: The first tier covers mandatory registration of preschools. Under this tier, regulations and licensing measures are put in place to ensure the minimum standards of operation.
- Tier 2: Preschools have to appraise themselves annually to identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as develop plans to address the latter.
- Tier 3: Once preschools are ready to have their appraisals validated, they proceed to the third tier. External assessors will visit the preschool to assign it a quality rating.
- Tier 4: Preschools who have attained good results after the assessment will be able to apply for SPARK accreditation.
While all preschools in Singapore have to meet the minimum standards of operation, it is voluntary for them to strive for quality improvements beyond these minimum standards
As a Partner Operator, Star Learners is committed to improving the quality of services through SPARK, alongside investments in strengthening our programmes and organisational capabilities.
How can SPARK benefit my child?
SPARK places a strong emphasis on preschools’ teaching and learning approaches and practices. It is a rigorous and intensive process that is ongoing and demands consistency, as every centre strives to maintain their level of excellence through each certification, which lasts for 6 years.
Centres are rated based on these important criteria under the Quality Rating Skill (QRS) used for SPARK assessments: Leadership, Planning and Administration, Staff Management, Early Years Learning Environment, Early Learning and Development, Resources, Curriculum and Pedagogy
At Star Learners, we go beyond ensuring that these criteria are met. A Quality Team made up of experienced early childhood educators with strong curriculum leadership, works alongside our Curriculum and Training team to do just that. Together, they identify and analyse learning needs of our educators, and conduct professional training and workshops regularly to help our educators hone their craft.
Centres with SPARK accreditation indicates that parents can reasonably expect the following:
- Strong teaching and learning practices
- A well-designed, integrated curriculum
- Effective pedagogies
- An environment conducive to learning
- Positive outcomes in terms of children’s development
With a vast majority of Star Learners centres being SPARK accredited, that’s definitely an assurance of quality that parents like you can appreciate!
A Last Word on SPARK and Its Value for Parents
While it is voluntary for preschools to make use of the SPARK framework to guide and uphold their quality, an increasing number of them are getting certified by ECDA over the years. There are currently over 1,000 SPARK-certified preschools in Singapore.
With that, it is also important to look beyond SPARK when it comes to choosing a preschool. We encourage parents to look into the curriculum and approaches that your chosen preschool undertakes, and see how it best aligns with the learning needs of your child and your beliefs.
Should you strongly believe in the value of a SPARK-certified preschool, register your interest for a personalised school tour at any of our 43 Star Learners centres island-wide.