The EtonHouse International Education Group is headquartered in Singapore with 100 schools (mainly pre-schools) in 12 countries, educating over 15,000 children globally. There are 9 IB curriculum schools within the group of which EtonHouse International at Thomson is one of two schools located in Singapore. Originally EtonHouse Orchard, the original pre-school has relocated to a large property on Thomson Lane and is now growing its Primary School.
Jodie Matthews, Principal, moved to Singapore from Western Australia to join EtonHouse in January 2015. She believes that “EtonHouse at Thomson values the uniqueness of each child as a gift. Our school focuses on the development of the child as an inquirer, both within the school environment and in the wider world.”
EtonHouse International School at Thomson is an IB (International Baccalaureate) World School offering programmes from Playgroup (9 – 17 months), Pre-Nursery/Nursery to KG2 (18 months to 6 years old) and Primary currently to Year 3 (6-8 years old), with plans to extend to Year 6 (12 years old). Children follow a programme based on the Reggio Emilia system in Pre-Nursery and the IB Primary Years Programme from KG2.
The Playgroup is a parent-accompanied ‘Stay & Play’ playgroup for children from nine months which provides a range of physical, social, musical and sensorial experiences facilitated by qualified early childhood educators. Sessions are held on a part-time basis two times per week as an early introduction to the Pre-Nursery.
The Early Years programme is divided into Pre-Nursery and Nursery 1 years where children are offered the EtonHouse “Inquire. Think. Learn Curriculum”, an inquiry-based approach drawing inspiration from the Reggio Emilia programme. EtonHouse staff do not just work with academic content (number, reading and writing), but aim to support the holistic development of the learner in terms of their physical, emotional, social, intellectual, creative and language development.
Somewhat confusingly, the school does not offer year 1 (this is named KG2) as a result of changing grading structure between the Nursery/Pre-School and the Primary School. The transition from the Early Years programme to the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) in year 2 from KG2 builds on the inquiry-based approach of Reggio Emilia.
This is further supported by the EtonHouse International School campus at Broadrick Road in the East Coast, which has run a Primary programme for 19 years, and the new EtonHouse Orchard all-through school in central Singapore. Students are able to transfer to the Broadrick campus for Secondary years, since the Thomson campus is planned to offer Primary education only.
Primary students explore subject areas including Languages, Mathematics, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Social Studies, Science, Information and Communication Technology and Personal, Social and Physical Education through 6 cross-disciplinary themes that provide the framework for study.
The process of learning is supported by a focus on the acquisition of Knowledge (What do we want the students to know?), Concepts (What do we want the students to understand?), Skills (What do we want students to be able to do?), Attitudes (What do we want students to value?) and Action (How do we want students to act?).
This inquiry-based approach is designed to enable students to develop an understanding of important concepts, acquire essential skills and knowledge, develop learning attitudes and to take socially responsible action.
EtonHouse Thomson offers an integrated bilingual programme throughout all its classes, with an English and Mandarin teacher interacting with the students in both languages during the day. This consistent exposure to both languages at all times is designed to enable students to think and understand concepts in two different languages and communicate effectively.
The school also places a particular emphasis on a practical approach to learning with “teaching artists – Aterlieristas” who are experts in Visual Arts and Performance Arts. They focus on enabling children to build knowledge and skills through the “expressive and poetic languages” of the Arts. Studios – “Ateliers” – are spaces provided for research, invention and expression, where children are introduced to new concepts designed to spark creativity and challenge their thinking.
A low teacher to student ratio (although the school does not specify the exact ratios) aims to allow for the development of a highly individualized and child-responsive programme.
EtonHouse Thomson is housed in a colonial style building on a hilltop and has unique traditional architectural features including a European water fountain and stained glass ceilings. The building and school grounds, which occupy 200,000 sq ft, have been redesigned by education specialists and incorporate unusual and attractive learning spaces such as the Sensory Laneway, The Canopy, and the Pebble Garden outdoors, and the Exploratorium, Tinkering Studio, Light Studio, and Construction Studio indoors.
The extensive outdoor environment situated in the midst of greenery is used by teachers to engage children in a variety of experiences, with natural settings used as platforms for reading or dramatic play. The school also offers a multi-purpose Sport Court, multi-function Hall, Performing Arts Studio, Visual Arts Studio and Swimming Pool.
A comprehensive co-curricular programme spans a range of sporting, artistic, cultural and recreational activities. CCAs are provided from Monday to Thursday from 3.30pm – 4.30pm and are open to students from N2 onwards, encouraging peer learning and support. Students may select up to four ECAs per week.
Besides free teacher-led ECAs, external vendors provide additional activities. These include swimming (in partnership with Swimming Concierge), Music Lessons (in partnership with Aureus Academy), Violin, Guitar, Voice, Drama classes (in partnership with Evolve Arts), Little Mandarins, Outdoor play, MiniSports (in partnership with Tinytots), Dance & Movement Club, Mandarin through Drama, Science Adventure, Cooking Club, Dance Club, Lego Club, Visual Arts, and Soccer.
EtonHouse Thomson is one of 12 EtonHouse establishments in Singapore, the majority of which are pre-schools. It seems, in expanding to Primary years, EtonHouse Thomson aims to ensure that a higher proportion of pre-school students stay longer within the EtonHouse fold.
However, with only one school offering Secondary provision (Broadrick) and this only to age 16, Whichschooladvisor wonders whether Primary School provision at Thomson will be sufficient to stem the flow of students to “through schools” where parents know that their children can remain until 18 and pre-university if they desire. The building alone is unlikely to support large numbers of students and the available outdoor space and facilities are unlikely to enable numbers of older Primary students to grow significantly.
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