SINGAPORE: A pre-school with capacity for 2,100 children officially opened in Singapore on Wednesday (Aug 30).
The Early Learning Village, located next to the Australian International School (AIS) campus in Lorong Chuan, is a collaboration between AIS and the Stamford American International School. At 50,000 square metres, with five buildings and more than 100 classrooms, it is the world’s largest pre-school for children aged 18 months to six years, both schools said.
The campus features various multifunctional spaces like outdoor play decks, and a 20m swimming pool with short horizontal lanes for beginners, and longer ones for more confident swimmers.
While both schools are in one location, they operate independently and offer different curriculums. Stamford American offers the International Baccalaureate and US curriculum from August to June, while AIS offers the Australian curriculum from January to December.
Cognita, the education group which operates both Stamford American and AIS, said that having two schools in the Early Learning Village benefits them both in terms of business and education.
"With two schools, two heads are better than one," said Michael Drake, CEO of Cognita Asia. "I think collaboration really adds a lot of value into education because we can be saying what works for you ... what works for me, and they would learn faster together."
On the business side, having more children means greater economies of scale.
“If we had set up schools separately we wouldn’t have been able to have such an amazing facility that we can both share,” said Mr Michael Day, Stamford American’s early years’ principal.
And special effort has been made to ensure that the campus remains a cosy and intimate place for the children, despite its size. Children in the same year group are housed on separate floors, and classrooms are clustered in groups of four in order to create small communities within each level.
“The building does look large when you come in from the outside,” said Mr Adam Patterson, head of early years at AIS. “But for the children and the parents, the experience is that the hub of four classrooms is like a secure little village school.
“And because we have play decks on many different levels, they can go out to the play deck any time they like, and it’s not like every single child goes out to play at 12pm.”
The Early Learning Village is open to all nationalities, including Singaporeans. More than 80 Singaporean children are currently enrolled.
Fees vary depending on the age of the child and number of days attending. For a three-year-old attending the school five days a week, the fee is around S$14,500 a semester. There are two semesters in a year.