ISSUE #59 – Interview with Viviane Salin, Director, La Petite Ecole
Awarded French Entrepreneur of the Year 2015, La Petite Ecole, founded by Viviane Salin and Vincent Rosa first opened its doors in September 2012. Viviane shares her entrepreneurial story.
CAN YOU SHARE A FEW WORDS ON LA PETITE ECOLE?
La Petite Ecole is our little baby who grew so fast! It is a dream come true, to create a school for our children and the families alike, as well as to embark on this entrepreneurial adventure and succeed professionally.
Amazingly, in three short years, the school has grown from 17 students in September 2012 to 136 today.
Its uniqueness has drawn in children from various backgrounds: some come straight from France with no English, some are bilingual with mixed parents, and others speak no French at all! Altogether, there are more than 20 nationalities amongst La Petite Ecole families.
HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY THE POTENTIAL FOR A FRENCH BILINGUAL PRESCHOOL IN SINGAPORE?
My husband Vincent Rosa and I arrived in Singapore in 2006 and worked in different industries. We had two children over the years and like many other parents, we were left with too few options for them if we wanted a French curriculum and a good immersion in English language.
Places at the French School were scarce, especially in the bilingual classes.
So I actually had this Eureka moment one day when it occurred to me that we may as well do it ourselves, and create our own ideal little school, a French/English bilingual one, based on the French curriculum.
WHAT ARE THE SPECIFICITIES OF LA PETITE ECOLE?
La Petite Ecole is a French accredited preschool in Singapore which offers a bilingual curriculum in French and English, for children aged three to six years old.
The French teachers are trained in France, whereas the English teachers come from native English speaking countries like Canada, USA, UK and Australia. The teachers collaborate on all subjects and the students spend half of the week with the French classroom teacher, and other half with their English speaking teacher. Children benefit from the best of both worlds: a well-structured French curriculum and Anglo-Saxon pedagogical approaches.
The location of the school is in a serene, beautiful, green environment, tucked away in Turf Club area (just off from Bukit Timah), within the Blue House School community. This greenery is very inspiring and we have many gardening activities with children and parents together.
The school also has a partnership with the French Lycée meaning that every child who goes to La Petite Ecole is guaranteed a place at the French Lycée in CP.
In September 2015, La Petite Ecole had a little sister: La Petite Crèche was born! It is a French Language Nursery for children 18 months to three years old, with a focus on arts and language.
La Petite Crèche is well located near the French school in Serangoon Gardens, and is also set in a nice and green environment.
WHAT WERE THE MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME ON YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY?
First of all was finding a proper location, as not so many buildings are available and/or suitable for this activity.
Then, not being from the education world but from the business world (both Vincent and I graduated from HEC), we had to learn the ins and outs of this field. But I’m like Obelix, I fell in the soup and loved it!
WHAT IS NEXT?
Small is beautiful… We would like to grow, expand, but at the same time stay cosy, warm, for the families and for our staff. We like the community spirit and we would like to reproduce this model of a French bilingual little preschool in other cities in Asia.
Children enjoying a break in the school’s backyard
The nursery’s playground in Serangoon Gardens
Interview published in the FOCUS Magazine “The Enterprising Spirit” – Issue #1 2016