With 300 preschools and schools in 16 countries around the world, Maple Bear certainly have a global perspective on education.
Our Early Years Editor, Jenny Mollon asked Maple Bear Global President, Rodney Briggs, to help parents understand what a Canadian preschool experience would mean for their children.
Rodney, firstly, introduce our readers to the Maple Bear group?
We work in 16 countries around the world, offering Canadian education at a preschool, elementary and high school level.
In each country, we work in partnership with local operators to ensure that our partners understand not only our curriculum and our standards but how to deliver a Canadian education within their local culture and environment.
What we offer parents is universal – a good quality education for all children. It is my role to work with these local teams to ensure quality is always up to our high standards, wherever a child might be in the world.
Back in Canada, we have a team of roughly 140 people making sure that the education we offer is up to date and current, because good quality education is an ever-changing beast. These people also form our quality assurance team, who regularly go out and visit all our schools around the world to assess and train our teachers and make sure our curriculum is delivered just as we want it to be.
How would you explain the differences (and indeed, the similarities) between Maple Bear and an EYFS curriculum preschool or nursery?
In Canada, we like to think we have the best education system in the English speaking world. Certainly, Canada is ahead of other English speaking countries in the PISA rankings. We are really proud have been born out of this system.
Secondly, we are a dual language country. We have an expertise in delivering English immersion learning because of our two ‘home’ languages and because we welcome so many immigrants to Canada each year.
If you look around the world, a huge percentage of academic literature and research on learning the English language is done by Canadians. We’ve had to develop our expertise in this area, and it helps us to teach language really well in other countries. We say to parents all around the world, ‘give us your child for three hours a day, and they will speak English like we do’. At Maple Bear we have a curriculum and system that makes this happen.
If you ask ‘what is similar to the English curriculum?’ well - parents that are familiar with the EYFS would recognise that we are child centred and that we tailor our teaching and planning to each child. That is vital in all good quality Early Years education, regardless of the curriculum.
In terms of a child’s experience within a Maple Bear classroom, where might parents notice a difference to the EYFS?
At a classroom level, we have a fully articulated curriculum. The teacher knows that on any given day, he or she needs to get her students from here to here.
The EYFS is not a curriculum per se, it is a framework. I believe it is a good framework but that often teachers need more than that to really deliver in the classroom.
The teachers at Maple Bear have a curriculum that is drafted by the same people who write the Canadian curriculum at home. We think that curriculum is as good as any you are ever going to find any preschool anywhere in the world.
And because of our quality assurance programme, parents can be sure that their children are getting a true Canadian education, anywhere in the world. Our system has real rigour to it.
Lastly, we say that we have three key ingredients at Maple Bear, a good physical space, strong curriculum and methodology and teachers who can really deliver.
What makes a Maple Bear teacher?
We our teachers as mentors first and foremost.
Passion about education is a given for our teachers - because delivering a Canadian education is not an easy thing. Nor should it be! We need lots of commitment, we need people who want to learn and develop themselves – professional development is fundamental to us.
Our teachers dedicate themselves to our children as individuals, they work together to share best practice, information and ideas and they are always, always looking at innovative ways to help children learn.
You currently have 28 Maple Bear branches here in Singapore, what are your plans for future growth?
We have 5 more preschools due to open in Singapore in the not too distant future. We have a fantastic local partner here and we feel that community has really embraced what we do - we see parents who love our curriculum and who really value our emphasis on bilingualism.
We know that Singapore always ranks near the top of the PISA rankings and we are proud to be a significant part of the foundations of that success.