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Ensuring Access to Quality and Affordable Education: Strengthening Support for Students with Special Educational Needs

1. In line with the Ministry of Education (MOE)'s continuing efforts to support students with Special Educational Needs (SEN), MOE will enhance inclusivity in mainstream schools, improve affordability for Special Education (SPED), and further increase the accessibility of SPED schools.

2. These enhancements were announced by Second Minister for Education, Ms Indranee Rajah, on 8 November 2019, at the An Extra•Ordinary Celebration Concert organised by Extra•Ordinary People Limited.

Enhancing Inclusivity in Mainstream Schools

3. 80% of our students with SEN are enrolled in mainstream schools. To ensure these schools remain inclusive, safe and accommodating for students with SEN, MOE has introduced two intervention programmes that leverage peer support: Circle of Friends (CoF) for primary and secondary students, and Facing Your Fears (FYF) for secondary students.

4. These intervention programmes equip students to help their schoolmates with SEN who may require social or emotional support, and work with them to overcome their specific areas of difficulties. Over the past few years, some schools have implemented CoF and FYF and experienced positive outcomes. MOE will hence be extending these intervention programmes to all mainstream schools over the next few years, to enhance the culture of peer support for students with SEN. Training will be provided to relevant school personnel, to enable them to implement these intervention programmes in their schools. More information on CoF and FYF can be found in the Annex.

Reduction of Sped School Fees to Improve Affordability

5. In addition, MOE will ensure that Singaporeans have access to a school setting that best meets their educational needs, regardless of their financial circumstances. This is why over the past five years, government funding for SPED schools has increased by about 40%, so that these schools are adequately resourced to provide quality SPED.

6. MOE has been working with SPED schools to further improve the affordability of SPED for families that have children with SEN. From January 2020, six SPED schools which charge fees on the higher end of the spectrum will lower their fees by at least 25% for Singapore Citizens. The six schools are Eden School, Grace Orchard School, Pathlight School, Rainbow Centre - Margaret Drive School, Rainbow Centre - Yishun Park School, and St. Andrew's Autism School. We are appreciative of the continuing partnership with these schools.

New SPED Schools to Increase Accessibility

7. To address the growing demand for SPED school places for students with moderate-to-severe SEN who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), MOE will be working with various Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to set up three new Government-funded SPED schools.

New School for Students with Moderate-To-Severe Sen Who Have Both Asd and Intellectual Disability (Asd-ID)

8. Metta Welfare Association1 will be operating a new SPED school in 2021, providing about 25 places per cohort. At a steady state, this will translate to 300 additional school places for students with ASD-ID aged 7 to 18 years old2. The new campus, to be located in the East, will be ready in 2024. In the interim, from 2021, students will have their lessons at the current Metta School campus in Simei, which has sufficient space to accommodate these students.

9. Metta Welfare Association's proposal to run the new SPED school was selected from six proposals received from well-qualified agencies which had expressed interest to run the SPED school.

Two new schools for students with moderate SEN who have ASD and can access the National Curriculum (ASD-NC)

10. To cater to students with ASD-NC, MOE will be opening two new SPED schools which will deliver the Singapore primary and secondary national curriculum, and a suitable post-primary programme for students who are unable to access the national secondary curriculum. MOE is working with Autism Resource Centre (Singapore)3 to set up one of these two schools.

11. For the second new school, MOE will conduct a limited invitation for proposals in the same way that MOE has done for the ASD-ID school which Metta will set up. A call for proposals will be sent out to eligible agencies for proposals to work with MOE to set up the school, out of which one will be selected. More details will be shared when ready.

12. MOE will continue to review our initiatives and provisions for students with SEN, to better support them in developing their potential and helping them lead meaningful lives.


Footnotes
  1. Metta Welfare Association currently runs Metta School, which serves about 410 SPED students with mild intellectual disability.

  2. Currently, AWWA School, Eden School, the Rainbow Centre Schools and St. Andrew’s Autism School serve SPED students with ASD-ID and/or Multiple Disabilities.

  3. Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) currently runs Pathlight School in Ang Mo Kio and will be running an upcoming second campus in Tampines.

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