Mum-of-three Jackie Barkham founded Swallows and Amazons 11 years ago because she saw a need to provide a familiar preschool environment for expat families that had just arrived in Singapore.
Jackie is also one of 23 winners of The Finder‘s 2018 Expatpreneur Awards.
When the school first opened, it had just one teacher to start off with. “But on the eve of our first student’s first day, she resigned!” says Jackie.
These days, the school employs 12 full-time and 2 part-time staff, and “turnover is very low, according to industry standards,” explains Jackie, who does her very best to hire the right staff for the school. “Employing and, more importantly, maintaining your staff is vital in a business,” she shares.
Located at The Grandstand in Bukit Timah, this kindy sits in a lush green area with full-grown trees shading the outdoor space. “Swallows and Amazons can naturally make children feel like being in an adventure story,” says Jackie. It’s no wonder then that she was inspired to name the preschool after a popular children’s novel.
Swallows and Amazons offers a mainstream learning environment that is even suitable for children with additional learning needs, and has provided an early childhood education for at least 1,300 children in Singapore since its inception, claims Jackie. Plus, Swallows and Amazons provides one school-sponsored spot to an underprivileged child for every 10 fee-paying children in school.
Parental involvement is also top priority here, and the teaching staff often encourages parents to get involved. “It takes teamwork to create your child’s early learning experiences,” says Jackie, adding that the preschool offers a flexible schedule and activities to give parents opportunities to really get involved in their child’s learning.
“Walking into one of our classes, you won’t immediately be able to say, ‘Ah, they’re learning numeracy, or literacy, or phonics.’ Rather than compartmentalising, we create an enquiry based learning environment, where the children’s innate sense of wonder and awe are catered for. Its purposeful play-based learning,” she says.
Swallows and Amazons
The Grandstand, South Carpark, 200 Turf Club Rd, 287994
Tel: 6762 8158
By Hazel Vincent De Paul, The Finder Issue 292
More on The Finder:
Meet the Winners of The Finder Expatpreneur Awards 2018!
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