St James’ Church Kindergarten to shut Dempsey campus by end-2022

SINGAPORE – St James’ Church Kindergarten will be shutting its branch in the Dempsey area by the end of next year, having lost the tender for the property.

It first opened its doors there in 2006.

A check on the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) website last month showed that the tender for the 20,500 sq ft site in Harding Road had been awarded to Odyssey The Global Preschool, which placed the highest bid of $133,333 a month in rent from 2023.

The tenure is for an initial three-year tenancy, which can be renewed for two further periods of three and two years.

Anglican Preschool Services (APS), which runs St James’ Church Kindergarten, had placed a bid of $76,200 a month for the site, which comprises four blocks and a sprawling garden. The non-profit pre-school’s lease ends on Dec 31 next year.

APS chief executive Andrew Tay told The Straits Times on Nov 24 that it will be moving the pupils enrolled at the Harding Road campus to any of the other 18 pre-schools under APS.

These include two other St James’ Church Kindergarten campuses – one in Leedon Road and the other in Gilstead Road – and the Little Seeds Preschool childcare centres.

The number also includes three kindergartens that will come under APS from 2022 – Ascension Kindergarten, St Paul’s Church Kindergarten and Queenstown Good Shepherd Kindergarten.

The Harding Road campus currently has 512 pupils enrolled in its three-hour and six-hour programmes.

Mr Tay said: “With one more year left at Harding, we are cherishing every moment and will take every opportunity to make the best of it.”

Housewife Vivian Goh, 40, said she has transferred her younger daughter, aged four, to the Leedon Road campus where she will start Kindergarten 1 in January.

“Quite a few of her classmates will be transferring with her as well, so at least she still has the chance to graduate alongside her friends,” she said.

A file photo from 2012 showing pupils enjoying the outdoor space at the Harding Road campus of St James’ Church Kindergarten. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

“When we heard the news, we were disappointed and devastated. On the last day of school, we took a lot of photos around the campus to capture the memories there. It was a very emotional day.”

Mr Kelvin Tan, 37, who is self-employed and works in the media industry, said he still plans to keep his two-year-old son enrolled at the Harding campus next year where the child will begin Nursery 1.

His daughter, aged seven, graduated from Harding last year.

“The Harding campus holds special meaning to us as the curriculum is all-rounded and involves exposing the kids to nature. I don’t want my son to lose that opportunity,” he said.

In response to queries, Ms Rabiatul Adawiah, chief development officer of Busy Bees Asia, which runs Odyssey The Global Preschool, said last Friday (Dec 3) that it submitted a tender for the Harding site as it is large and spacious, and provides pupils with “plenty of space and opportunities for outdoor learning”.

She said: “This is in line with our belief that the world is the classroom, and that learning should not be confined within classroom walls but can happen anywhere and any time.

“In addition, the central location is something that our Odyssey parents appreciate.”

Ms Rabiatul added that Busy Bees Asia is still finalising its plans for the campus.