SINGAPORE - Parents may be glad to know that more pre-schools have got that "spark".
To be precise, one in three pre-schools here have now earned the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (Spark) quality mark, up from one in four in 2015.
This was announced at the annual Early Childhood Conference held at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre on Friday (Sept 30).
At the event, 249 childcare centres and kindergartens received their Spark certificates, bringing the total pre-schools with the quality mark to 601. Spark is part of the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA)'s national pre-school accreditation scheme.
Fifteen pre-schools also received the Spark (Commendation) certificate, which is for Spark-certified centres with outstanding teaching and learning practices. This brings the total number of such pre-schools to 70.
Meanwhile, for pre-school operators, Spark re-certification will become less tedious.
The quality certificates awarded from Friday will be valid for six years instead of three, with a mid-term "developmental visit" by ECDA officers to replace the current re-certification assessment.
Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling, guest of honour at the conference, said: "We have observed that more Spark-certified centres are now able to achieve higher standards. Close to all Spark-certified centres have been successfully re-certified.
"These solid improvements in quality have led us to take stock and adjust the current Spark certification framework, to place an even stronger focus on development and self-appraisal by centres."
The Spark assessment will also be adjusted to focus more on centres' teaching and learning practices, instead of areas such as planning and administration. More details will be given in 2017.
Introduced in 2011, the Spark accreditation is voluntary, but serves as a guide for parents to identify good pre-schools. It evaluates education programmes for children aged four to six in childcare centres and kindergartens in the areas of leadership, planning and administration, staff management, resources, and curriculum and pedagogy.
Said Ms Low: "Even though Spark is a voluntary quality assurance framework, I am heartened that many centres recognise its value and have worked hard to be certified... We look forward to more centres joining the Spark family."