EtonHouse opening on Sentosa in August

EtonHouse opening on Sentosa in August
Interior of EtonHouse’s new campus on Sentosa, which features an indoor “tree house” with an attap roof, as well as a trishaw.

One of Singapore's largest pre-schools is going "overseas".

The EtonHouse chain has set up a centre on Sentosa, with an estimated 300 places.

The campus also has artefacts such as a trishaw and is said to be the first "heritage pre-school" in Singapore.

When it opens in August, it would be the second pre-school on the island. The final capacity is subject to approval from the authorities.

Last week, the authorities said five large childcare centres will be built by the end of the year in areas like Punggol. Each centre can take in 300 to 500 children, whereas a centre sited at a Housing Board void deck usually admits only about 100 children.

Unlike these centres, the upcoming EtonHouse campus is an international pre-school. It is a five-minute drive from Sentosa Cove, where the other pre-school - Quayside Isle Preparatory School (Quips) - is sited.

Quips, which opened in 2013, has filled its 60 places for its upcoming school year in August and has a waiting list.

Its founder Sharon Solomon, a Singaporean, thinks families with young children are already well-served by the number of places. Most of Quips' pupils live at Sentosa Cove, which has more than 5,000 residents and 2,160 homes. It is not clear how many of the residents are families with young children.

EtonHouse held an open house last week and will hold another one on Saturday. Non-Sentosa residents make up two in five of the 200-plus people who have expressed interest in the open house sessions.

Group managing director Ng Gim Choo told The Straits Times: "We received a lot of requests from parents."

She said some interested parents live nearby in the HarbourFront area.

School bus services will be offered to families who live on the mainland.

There are half-day (3½-hour) and full-day (six-hour) programmes for children aged 18 months to six years. Fees range from $6,750 to $7,500 per term, excluding GST. That works out to $2,250 to $2,500 a month, which is higher than the average $1,600 to $2,300 at other EtonHouse campuses.

There is also a one-time registration fee of $2,500 for the Sentosa campus.

EtonHouse's course fees are higher than those at Quips, which charges $3,950 to $4,800 a term for programmes lasting three to five hours. Quips also has a one-time registration fee of $2,000.

Mrs Ng said operating costs are high because of the location and size of the campus, which is close to 3,000 sq m, or about the size of 11 tennis courts.

"The Sentosa pre-school is in an exclusive location, surrounded by lush greenery and offers innovative facilities to enhance learning in the early years," she said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Sentosa Development Corporation said there are no plans for a third pre-school on the island.

Early childhood expert Khoo Kim Choo said future demand for the Sentosa pre-schools may depend on the development of properties nearby on the mainland.

Hospital operations manager Jonathan Heng, 38, lives in Punggol but is keen to enrol his son in EtonHouse, Sentosa. He does not mind the 15-minute drive from his wife's workplace in Raffles Place to Sentosa, or that Singaporeans do not get subsidies for global pre-schools.

"It's very spacious and there's a lot of nature, a lot of greenery. I think it's also good for my son to interact with people of different cultures from young," he said.

This article was first published on June 1, 2015.
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