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Compulsory Education for Children with Special Educational Needs: Recommendations by Implementation Advisory Panel Accepted

1. The Implementation Advisory Panel (IAP) has released its report with recommendations for children with special educational needs (SEN) in the areas of placement and exemption from Compulsory Education (CE). The Ministry of Education (MOE) has accepted these recommendations, and will release further details on specific implementation processes at a later date.

2. Appointed in Nov 2016 by Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, the IAP was tasked to make recommendations to MOE on how CE can be implemented in a way that best serves the needs of children with SEN. In deliberating its recommendations, IAP Chairperson Janil Puthucheary said that the Panel kept in mind the following key principles: (i) all Singaporean children should be supported in the educational settings appropriate for their needs and (ii) parents have the primary responsibility for ensuring that their child attends school.

3. Dr. Puthucheary said, “I am deeply appreciative of the Implementation Advisory Panel (IAP) members for contributing their time and professional insight in developing this robust set of recommendations. They will help ensure that CE is implemented in the best interests of our children with SEN. The IAP members’ varied experiences – from mainstream and Special Education (SPED) schools, voluntary welfare organisations, hospitals and universities – have enabled us to look at the diverse needs of our children with SEN from a wide range of perspectives. We are thus better able to understand current ground realities relating to parental choices and SPED school practices. This has led us to weave in sufficient flexibility in our recommendations to cater to the wide spectrum of SEN. At the same time, we have ensured fairness and parity in our approach by taking reference from the existing CE regime for children without SEN.”

4. Accepting the recommendations, Mr Ng noted that the IAP had taken in the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including parents, SPED and mainstream school leaders and staff, voluntary welfare organisations and advocates for children with SEN. He said, “Through the report, and the many discussions the IAP had with the SEN community, it was heartening to note that that the educational interests of children with SEN was the key consideration. We will continue working closely with community partners for the smooth implementation of CE and ensure the quality, affordability and accessibility of SPED”.

5. MOE will build on the IAP’s recommendations and work towards implementing the recommendations from 2019. In particular, MOE will:

  1. ensure that Singaporean children with moderate-to-severe SEN are able to access learning in a suitable SPED school; and
  2. strengthen upstream measures to support parents in choosing school settings appropriate to their child’s educational needs. This would include clearer guidance and advice to parents at the pre-primary level, and enhancing the Post-Diagnosis Educational Guidance service.

6. More information on CE, SEN support provisions in mainstream and SPED schools, and SPED school admissions can be found at the Special Education (SPED) webpage. The full report of the IAP can also be found on the webpage.

7. More information on (i) the list of Panel members, (ii) summary of IAP recommendations, (iii) more information on Compulsory Education and (iv) background information about the current Special Education landscape can be found in the Annexes.

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