NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool opens 1,065-capacity Early Years Childcare Centre, over 600 children currently enrolled
Singapore, 23 May 2019 – This morning, NTUC First Campus’ (NFC) My First Skool (MFS) Early Years Centre (EYC) at 2 Punggol Drive was officially opened by Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Ng Chee Meng.
The 1,065-capacity centre is MFS’ largest EYC to date, providing quality and affordable pre-school education for children from two months to four years old. It currently has over 600 children, the highest enrolment in EYCs across Singapore. With a built-up area of 8,786 sqm, the centre is located beside the Punggol MRT station and serves the large community of families with pre-school going children in the Northeast.
Under the EYC model, upon reaching the age of five, children will move on to a nearby partner Ministry of Education (MOE) Kindergarten.
NFC playing an important role in Singapore’s strategy to increase childcare places
NFC serves 20,000 children across its brands in its entire pre-school network and has also built up a ready pipeline of new centres to meet the growing demand from families. In 2019 alone, an additional 2,000 places will be added.
With this EYC, there are now 141 MFS centres in neighbourhoods all around Singapore. By 2021, three MFS Large Childcare Centres (LCCCs) will be constructed in the Northeast region of Singapore, each catering to 300 to 900 children from two months to six years old.
These growth plans are in line with the Government’s commitment to creating more full-day places amounting to 200,000 by 2023.
On increasing the number of childcare places, Mr Ng Chee Meng shared, "Our NTUC Social Enterprises, including NTUC First Campus, aim to help Singaporeans manage the cost of living by improving accessibility to affordable services and products. The expanding network of My First Skool centres like this Early Years Centre provides Singapore’s families better access to affordable and high-quality pre-school education and childcare, ensuring all children have a good start in life."
Mr Ng added, “NTUC First Campus plays an important role in Singapore’s strategy to improve social mobility and ensuring that all parents in Singapore who need pre-school places for children have access to one.”
CEO of NTUC First Campus Mr Chan Tee Seng said, "This state-of-the-art facility sets a new bar in terms of the quality of the pre-school experience offered. Centres like this also enable more interesting and varied learning spaces and environments to be created. We look forward to operating more such large centres when opportunities in the future arise. Apart from the new facilities, what is equally important is the "software" – the quality of our teachers and curriculum that sets us apart and makes the biggest difference."
Redefining the MFS Early Years Experience
NFC takes a holistic approach in nurturing the children’s early years – integrating and placing special emphasis on health and nutrition, the outdoor physical environment and indoor learning zones.
The Learning Experience
MFS centres adopt a relationships-based curriculum approach in small group and individualised care, where the children’s well-being are taken care of through a primary care-giving approach, providing them with a strong sense of security.
Children who have experienced the MFS Early Years programme will have the opportunity to develop their independent thinking and learning skills. MFS is intentional in fostering the children’s sense of independence, empowering them to make decisions and feel confident in doing tasks by themselves. Teachers proactively facilitate the learning process.
Examples of opportunities where children develop their independence include: the children identifying their photographs pasted on their chairs; retrieving their own bibs; choosing the serving portion size of their meals; learning to clean up after themselves, among many others.
Importance of Food, Nutrition and Hygiene
All meals at MFS centres are freshly prepared and cooked at the centres themselves. With early childhood being an important period when children’s palates can be shaped, MFS is in a prime position to help children develop good and healthy eating habits.
In-house Commercial Kitchen
The EYC at 2 Punggol Drive centre has its own fully-equipped commercial kitchen staffed by an eight-person full-time kitchen crew. The kitchen crew is helmed by a Head Chef with 15 years of experience in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry, bringing unique experience to the childcare dining setting.
Significant investments have been made to set up and equip the commercial kitchen. The 127-sqm main kitchen is located on the first floor, with a 19-sqm kitchen pantry on the second floor. Both are connected by a dumb waiter lift system. The kitchen is also furnished with automated equipment to help the crew with meal preparations as well as the cleaning of cutlery.
The chef and his team plan the menu that includes freshly baked bread for the children and multi-ethnic dishes. They are also able to introduce herbs and spices such as dill, thyme and oregano, allowing the children to learn about different food items and ingredients as they eat. These menus are also shared across the MFS network.
The commercial kitchen allows for large-scale preparation of healthy meals for the children in accordance to the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) safety and nutrition guidelines, and accommodating dietary restrictions and food allergies.
Hygiene and safety is of high importance at NFC and all in-house cooks and centre attendants, including those at the EYC, are required to attend Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA)-stipulated food and hygiene courses.
Outdoor and Indoor Learning Environments catered for every age group
Children who spend time outdoors are healthier physically, mentally and emotionally. Being outdoors also provides opportunities for socialisation and learning. Hence, the five specially designed unique playscapes at the EYC for children’s outdoor play: an Outdoor Playground, Water Play Zone, Land Play Zone, Mountain Play Zone and Forest Play Zone.
The indoor learning environment is also deliberately designed to encourage both locomotors and non-locomotors activities to meet the learning and developmental needs of the children. The centre’s classrooms have distinctive design furniture specially curated to provide opportunities for children to have sensorial and creative expressive activities.
Piloting of new ideas with an LCCC
A large childcare centre like this provides the platform for the piloting of new ideas and innovations. These can then be scaled to benefit the entire pre-school network and sometimes even at the national level.
One of the pilot projects is the use of the Omnisense Systems temperature scanner in place of staff manually taking the temperatures of children as they enter the school every morning. The use of this technology helps improve efficiency of this important health check process.