Disappointing experience at PCF pre-school

My son has been attending PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots since he was 18 months old.

He has had wonderful teachers who took very good care of him.

So, when the mega-centre at Hillion was ready, I looked forward to the orientation programme and to enrolling my son.

But it has been a disappointing experience.

While my wife and I were impressed with the conducive environment the teachers had created, our confidence in the curriculum was shaken during the presentation by the executive principal (EP) and vice-principal (VP).

The curriculum utilises the Steam (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) approach, which involves lesson design and implementation through inquiry and process-based learning.

This pathway is exciting but tricky at the same time, if one does not have a clear understanding of what it truly means.

While I do not expect a PCF pre-school to function like a MindChamps or Montessori pre-school, I hoped it would provide a strong and sound curriculum and structure to prepare our children with basic literacy and numeracy skills for Primary 1.

However, it seems that the EP's understanding of the curriculum was not aligned with the one conveyed on the PCF website.

The EP and VP also did not seem to have a clear contingency plan in place, should an emergency strike the centre, which plans to hold 300 children.

I conveyed my disappointment to the district head and had a meeting with him.

He told me that many children who went through the PCF curriculum were in the learning support programme (LSP) and come from low-income families which provide little support to their children.

The LSP is a specialised early intervention programme aimed at providing learning support to pupils who enter Primary 1 with weak English language and literacy skills.

There was little progress after our meeting, and I felt like I was seen as an unreasonable parent and being pacified with stalling measures.

Does PCF cater especially to families with lower-income? Should I lower my expectations of PCF education? Doesn't the adage " every school is a good school" apply to pre-schools too?

Andrew Liu Soon Kiong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Disappointing experience at PCF pre-school'. Print Edition | Subscribe