Press Releases

Half of the Early Childhood Sector Now Certified under the Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework (SPARK)

06 Oct 2018


As of October 2018, 880 or 50% of preschools island-wide are SPARK-certified by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), up from 770 or 40% of preschool last year. 152 preschools received either their first or second SPARK certificates today from Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Ms Low Yen Ling at the ECDA Early Childhood Conference 2018. Nine of these centres received the SPARK Commendation.

2. SPARK is a benchmark for preschools to assess and continually raise the quality of their programmes, and is an objective assurance of preschool quality for parents. As part of the SPARK certification process, preschools will use the Quality Rating Scale (QRS) as a self-appraisal tool to help them evaluate the quality of their programmes. They will subsequently undergo a rigorous assessment conducted by ECDA to ensure that processes and systems are in place to deliver positive development outcomes for their children. Those who meet the required standards will be given the SPARK certification or commendation. 

Expanded Quality Rating Scale to Better Support Quality in the Early Years​

3. As announced today, SPARK will be enhanced with a new section catering to the 0-3 age group. “The period of 0 to 3 years is a golden age for laying the foundation of healthy development and lifelong wellbeing for our young children,” Ms Low said. “SPARK is evolving with this growing recognition of the importance of the early years as it continues to guide centres in their quality improvement. The new ‘0 to 3’ section will place greater focus on centres’ care approach, and how they engage the children through interactions and purposeful play.” 

4. The 0-3 section was developed by ECDA in close consultation with overseas and local early childhood experts and local practitioners. ECDA also engaged around 90 preschools over the past year through focus group discussions and pilot testing to better understand the sector’s needs. 

5. To ensure that preschools have adequate time to prepare for their next SPARK assessment, the 0-3 section will be available for preschools’ self-appraisal in 2019. Training and support on using the new 0-3 section for self-appraisal will also be provided. Centres will be assessed under SPARK on all levels of service provided, from ages 0 to 6, from January 2020 onwards. 

Supplementary Information

1. What is the Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework (SPARK)? 

SPARK is a voluntary quality assurance framework to raise the quality of preschools in Singapore. Preschools are strongly encouraged to participate as attaining a good quality rating is an endorsement of the holistic quality of the preschool.

2. What does SPARK assess?

The SPARK certification assesses preschools in the following areas: leadership, planning and administration, staff management, resources, curriculum, pedagogy, and health, hygiene and safety. 

3. What is SPARK Commendation and how many centres are certified with Commendation? 

Preschools which meet quality standards in areas evaluated under the SPARK framework will be given the SPARK certification. In 2015, the SPARK (Commendation) category was introduced to recognise SPARK-certified centres with even higher quality in teaching and learning practices. To date, 73 centres are certified with Commendation. 

4. What is the Quality Rating Scale (QRS)? 

The QRS is a self-appraisal tool that helps preschools evaluate the quality of their education programmes for children and work towards achieving positive outcomes for the children. It is also a tool for external assessment of centres for quality assurance and quality improvement.

5. Why is the 0-3 section included in the Quality Rating Scale? 

Currently, the QRS focuses on preschool programmes for children of ages 4 to 6. The section for ages 0-3 was included for a holistic approach to early childhood development that covers the spectrum of developmental needs from ages 0 to 6, so that SPARK continues to be relevant and useful for preschools along with growing needs at the early years. This is part of ECDA’s continual efforts to better support centres’ and parents’ needs, and raise the quality of the preschool sector.

6. What will the 0-3 section cover? 

The 0-3 section will cover two additional criteria: the Early Years Learning Environment (which includes physical environment, resources and family involvement) and Early Years Learning and Development (which comprises general principles for pedagogy, social and emotional development, physical development and cognitive development). 

7. How will the 0-3 section affect assessments? 

The 0-3 section will be made available for centres’ self-appraisal from 2019. From January 2020 onwards, centres will be assessed on all levels of service provided from ages 0 to 6. This will apply to new SPARK applications, as well as centres whose certification is due for renewal in 2020.