Yishun pre-school teacher used 'inappropriate method' to push child away from window: ECDA

Ang Qing
The Straits Times
January 16, 2024

A pre-school teacher is under investigation for allegedly pushing a one-year-old boy away from a window when he tried to climb up the grille, after which he fell.

In response to queries, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in a statement on Jan 16 said the teacher had used an “inappropriate method” in trying to stop the child from climbing the window grille.

The statement said the pre-school – a PCF Sparkletots centre in the northern part of Singapore – was alerted on Jan 8 to allegations that the boy was injured in school, and it reported the case to ECDA on the same day.

“Since then, ECDA has commenced investigations, which include unannounced visits to the pre-school, review of CCTV footage, interviews and verification of records,” it added.

ECDA has reviewed the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage from Jan 2 to Jan 5 when the child was in school, the statement said.

It added that the agency is investigating two incidents at the pre-school, based on the CCTV footage.

The first, on Jan 3, involves the child “repeatedly attempting to climb onto a low window grille and the educator pushed him away from the window”.

“The child fell on his bottom on the play mat and rolled over sideways onto his back,” added the statement.

The second incident took place on Jan 4, it said. “The child was seated on a low chair, lost his balance and fell backwards onto the floor.”

Speaking to The Straits Times on Jan 10, the boy’s father said he noticed a bruise the size of a 50-cent coin on his son’s right ear and scratches on his face on Jan 5 – the fourth day of pre-school for the 22-month-old, an only child.

The father said: “My wife and I assumed that the injury could only come from school, as he did not suffer any knocks or falls at home.”

He added that he lodged a police report and took the child to see a doctor, who said there was no internal bleeding.

When pre-school sessions resumed on Jan 8, the parents raised the matter with the school.

On Jan 9, pre-school operator PCF Sparkletots contacted the child’s parents and showed them the CCTV footage of the Jan 4 incident, the boy’s father said.

The father’s name and location of the pre-school cannot be made public in case it leads to the boy being identified.

The father said he wants to know why the pre-school did not inform him about the incident when his son tried to climb the window grilles, and why he learnt about it only on Jan 15 when ECDA contacted him.

Responding to queries, PCF Sparkletots said it is “fully committed to cooperating with the parents and the authorities”.

ECDA in its statement said early investigations suggest that the bruise on the boy’s right ear could be the result of the boy losing his balance on the low chair and falling backwards on Jan 4.

It said: “While incidents involving children may sometimes occur despite the pre-school’s best efforts, ECDA takes a serious view towards all cases of child mismanagement. Action will be taken against the pre-school operator and staff if our findings support the allegation.” 

When educators are found to have inappropriately managed children, ECDA will issue warning letters. In serious cases, the person will be barred from working in the pre-school sector and can be referred to the police for criminal investigation.

While the boy’s bruise has nearly healed, he has stopped attending school for now because he is “badly traumatised”, his father said. The boy’s parents have also yet to decide if they will continue sending the boy to the pre-school.

The Straits Times

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.