Overseas Family School pre-school axes one in three teaching staff

An international school has let go of about a third of its kindergarten teaching staff to refresh its ranks with more qualified teachers in the face of growing competition between pre- schools here.

The Overseas Family School in Paterson Road terminated the employment of 14 assistant teachers out of its staff of 45 teachers and assistant teachers earlier this month. The assistant teachers were local residents and held either diplomas or early childhood certificates.

The school, which is under the publicly listed group Overseas Education, is planning to hire better qualified teaching staff, including degree holders.

A spokesman for the school said: "The early childhood market has grown more intense in the past few years, and we wanted to upgrade the profile of our teachers to give us a competitive advantage."

According to the Association of Early Childhood and Training Services, pre-schools generally allocate one teacher with a degree qualification and an assistant teacher with a diploma or early childhood related certificate to each class.

Mr Steven Kho, from the association's secretariat, said: "It is quite uncommon to have two degree holders per class because of the manpower crunch and cost."

Industry players say competition has grown in the past five years with new entrants, such as international schools Dulwich College and Gems World Academy, both opening this year.

Demand remains strong at other preschools which are popular with expatriates.

EtonHouse has opened three new pre-schools in the last three years. Expatriate children make up 70 per cent of their pre- schoolers and there is usually a waiting list of at least six months.

American housewife Stefanie Howarth, 44, who moved here in 2012, sent her two sons to EtonHouse International Pre-school in Claymore Road. She said: "It was my sons' first time going to school and I wanted them to be in a nurturing environment."