Thursday 12 September 2013

Bids not the highest but childcare centre operator wins tenders

Little Footprints Schoolhouse awarded on quality, affordability of its programmes in new initiative by HDB and ECDA
By Siau Ming En, TODAY, 10 Sep 2013

Even though it did not make the highest bids, Little Footprints Schoolhouse was yesterday awarded both tenders to run childcare centres in Punggol and Teban Gardens — the first sites that were tendered out under a new evaluation process introduced by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

The authorities announced in June that, besides the bid received for the site, they would place equal consideration on the quality and affordability of the programmes to be offered, in an initiative that is aimed at avoiding bidding wars while keeping school fees affordable.

This marks a departure from the previous tender exercises, in which HDB sites were awarded to childcare centre operators which submitted the highest bid.

The ECDA said yesterday the award of the tenders to Little Footprints Schoolhouse was “based on merit” and the successful bidder had the highest combined score for price as well as quality.

In both the joint tenders at Block 168D Punggol Field and Block 22A Teban Gardens Road,Little Footprints Schoolhouse obtained the highest quality scores for both sites.

The operator’s track record, affordability, quality of programmes and community assistance were taken into consideration under the quality criteria.

Little Footprints Schoolhouse said its proposal reflected its pedagogy, where children aged 18 months to four years old are taught under a “learning through play” approach, while older children aged four to six go through a “thematic learning approach”.

The operator has also proposed to start school fees at S$688 per month for full-day sessions, which it says is “below the industry median”.

The joint tender exercise for both sites closed on July 5, and 30 and 23 bids were made for the sites in Punggol and Teban Gardens respectively.

In comparison, a site at Block 274B Punggol Place received 19 tender bids last year.

The HDB said the number of bids depends on several factors, such as location and the size of premises, among others.

Ms Julie Koh, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Little Footprints Schoolhouse, said the operator is “delighted” to have won the tenders.

“This recent initiative by the ECDA to set clear quality benchmarks has given us the opportunity to further our commitment in bringing affordable premium programmes to the masses, in addition to our recent application for the Anchor Operator Scheme,” added Ms Koh.

There are currently four centres under Little Footprints Schoolhouse and they are part of the Nurture Education Group which runs 12 centres in Singapore.


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