West Spring Primary

Making learning fun for pupils

Parent Ong Hai Yong (in grey shirt), with other parents who were checking out West Spring Primary School during an open house this month. The senior quality inspector decided to enrol his daughter at the school after checking out its facilities and s
Parent Ong Hai Yong (in grey shirt), with other parents who were checking out West Spring Primary School during an open house this month. The senior quality inspector decided to enrol his daughter at the school after checking out its facilities and staff.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN
MR ONG HAI YONG, who picked West Spring for daughter Xin Yi because of its fresh approach and committed staff
Mr Ong Hai Yong, who picked West Spring for daughter Xin Yi because of its fresh approach and committed staff.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

Staff at West Spring Primary School in Bukit Panjang were surprised at the interest shown when it opened for registration in 2013.

The demand from parents led the school, which had planned for an initial enrolment of 210, to open another class in its second year. It took in its second batch of 240 Primary 1 pupils this year.

Principal Jacinta Lim said that she was "pleasantly surprised" by the strong response.

"We're attracting parents who are looking for an emphasis on an all-rounded education, and who like our play-based approach to learning," she said.

The school adopts "play" across all the subjects offered, from mathematics to the languages and art, to help make learning more enjoyable for pupils.

LESSONS USING LEGO

I liked that kids learn through play and fun things like Lego.

MR ONG HAI YONG, who picked West Spring for daughter Xin Yi because of its fresh approach and committed staff

During English and art lessons, for instance, pupils can role-play and make props. In language classes, they play games with picture cards and engage in physical activities, or use Lego blocks and plasticine to solve problems creatively.

During recess, fun science experiments are carried out each month, even before the subject is formally introduced at Primary 3.

Mr Ong Hai Yong, 42, who lives about 15 minutes away from the school, chose West Spring for his daughter, Xin Yi, eight, even though it is a new school.

The senior quality inspector said that, when he found out a new school would be opening near his home, he was "interested in what it had to offer".

"I read up about Mrs Lim's experience at her previous schools and was quite impressed," he added. "I liked that kids learn through play and fun things like Lego.

"My wife and I discussed it, and we decided that a new school would have its own strengths - it's fresh, it has new ideas, new facilities and new classrooms."

The school's leaders and teachers also make the effort to keep in touch with parents, he said. For instance, parents can see photographs of the children in an online album that is updated by the school every Friday.

Mrs Lim also holds "chit-chat" sessions with parents up to three times a year, to answer questions and get feedback.

"We might be a new school, but deploying experienced educators does give parents the confidence that their children are in good hands," she said.

Housewife Iris Ong, 39, said that West Spring Primary's play-based approach encourages her son, now in Primary 2, to go to school. She said: "I don't have to force him to go to school, and I don't have any cranky moments with him."

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that West Spring Primary School is in Bukit Merah. It should be Bukit Panjang. We are sorry for the error. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'Making learning fun for pupils'. Print Edition | Subscribe