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Singapore Government

Schooling Years (Ages 7-18)

Schooling Years (Ages 7-18)

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Header banner for Schooling years (ages 7-18), depicting a teacher teaching two students, with one raising his hand and asking a question.

Support for the primary and secondary school age groups

Continuous efforts to  strengthen support for children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools.
  • Parents who chose to enrol their child in a mainstream school were provided with a list of designated mainstream schools offering support for various disability types, to facilitate their decision-making. MOE has since increased mainstream schools’ capacity to provide baseline support for students with SEN.
  • Since 1999, MOE has provided funding for assistive technology devices (e.g. MOE Assistive Technology (AT) Fund) to support students with sensory and physical impairments in their learning needs.
  • $15 million was dedicated from 2005 to 2010 for the deployment of special needs officers, later known as Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) (AED(LBS)), into mainstream schools to support children with dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder.
  • Since 2016, Student Development Teams (SDT) have been set up in all primary and secondary schools. The SDT will strengthen schools' capacity in developing age-appropriate programmes and supporting the holistic development of all students, as well as provide support and intervention for specific groups of students who require additional help. 

SPED schools run by Social Service Agencies (SSAs) were set up to cater to students with a wide range of disabilities, from intellectual to physical disabilities.
  • Students with moderate-to-severe SEN attend SPED schools, which are fully funded by the government and community.
  • SPED schools offer more intensive and targeted support, such as curriculum customisation with Individualised Education Plans and smaller class sizes, support from Allied Professionals (e.g. occupational therapists and psychologists), and customised physical facilities.

MOE partnered SPED schools to raise the quality of curriculum and education for SPED students.
  • SPED schools offer either the national curriculum or a customised curriculum.
  • In 2012, MOE developed a SPED Curriculum Framework, “Living Learning and Working in the 21st Century”, to set a common direction for SPED schools in designing and delivering a quality customised curriculum for their diverse student profiles.
  • The SPED Curriculum Framework highlights the desired outcomes of SPED holistically and functionally in three broad life areas of Living, Learning, and Working (LLW). These were refreshed in 2017 and 2020 to ensure they remain aspirational for the sector.
  • MOE also facilitated the formation of Curriculum Leadership Teams in every SPED school, to drive curriculum improvements.

MOE has enhanced professional development opportunities and recognition for SPED school teachers.
  • All teachers who join SPED schools are required to complete the Diploma in Special Education programme conducted by the NIE. The Diploma provides the foundational knowledge and skills for one to be an effective SPED teacher.
  • Professional development opportunities include:
    • In-service courses, including certification and non-certification courses in disability and learning domains.
    • Heads of Department and Senior Teachers in SPED schools attend the Management and Leadership in Schools (MLS) programme in NIE alongside the middle managers of mainstream schools.
    • Since 2013, all SPED schools are encouraged to form Professional Learning Teams to build a culture of professional dialogue and raise standards of teaching and learning within and across schools. SPED schools have also come together to form Communities of Practice to focus on professional collaboration and shared learning in key domains.
    • Funding is provided for SPED teachers to upgrade their pedagogy, knowledge and skills.
  • There is also greater recognition of contributions of SPED teachers:
    • MOE awards scholarships leading to a master’s degree in SPED to deserving and committed teachers from SPED schools.
    • The MOE-NCSS Outstanding SPED Teacher Award recognises SPED educators for their passion, dedication, and commitment in providing a well-rounded education for students with SEN.
    • The MOE-NCSS Innovation Award recognises outstanding innovations that promote students’ learning and contribute to a culture of excellence in SPED schools.

MOE and NCSS developed the Quality Assurance (QA) framework for SPED schools to drive school improvement and growth, so as to improve the quality of education for every student.
  • The QA framework entails a systematic review of the school’s systems, processes, and programmes according to a four-year cycle, i.e. annual self-evaluation exercises for three years, followed by an external review on the fourth year.
  • It has been implemented since 2010, and was last updated in 2019.

Since 2007, MOE has extended funding to students in SPED schools beyond 18 years old and up to 21 years old for those who require a longer runway to obtain an academic or vocational national certification. [Note: Majority of SPED students graduate at age 18 years]
  • Transition to post-school options and eventually integration into society is an important part of a SPED student's educational journey
  • The extended funding applies to students taking mainstream secondary curriculum (ie. Pathlight School) or vocational education programmes leading to nationally-recognised certification at accredited SPED schools (i.e. Delta Senior School and Metta School).
  • However, not all students require the full extension, and many graduate with certification before the age of 21.

In 2014, MOE introduced the Parent Support Grant to encourage greater involvement by parents in SPED. 
  • The grant provides up to $2,500 for each school to engage parents and involve them in their children's education through avenues such as orientation programme, capability building workshops, and meet-and-share sessions for parents. 

Since 2014, MSF has worked with Social Service Agencies to develop Special Student Care Centres.

Support at Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs)

Our IHLs aim to prepare students to be work-ready and independent. IHLs thus encourage self-advocacy and provide appropriate support throughout the students’ education journey from pre-admissions to pre-employment.
  • In 2014, SEN Support Offices were set up in all IHLs to coordinate support for students with SEN, including course guidance for prospective students, in-class learning assistance and access arrangements, and SEN-related funding support.
  • MOE established the SEN Fund in 2014 for polytechnic and ITE students with physical or sensory impairment to purchase Assistive Technology (AT) devices and/or support services over their course duration. Students in Autonomous Universities and publicly funded Arts Institutions also receive financial support from their institutions.

Transition to Post-School Life

In 2013, SG Enable launched the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) Internship Programme.
  • This programme provides internship opportunities to assist IHL students with disabilities to gain work exposure. It matches these students with organisations that provide internships in various sectors, based on their course of study and interests.

In 2014, MOE, MSF and SG Enable launched the School-to-Work (S2W) Transition Programme pilot.
  • The S2W Transition programme offers customised training pathways and work options to SPED students who are preparing for working life. It begins in the student’s final year of schooling when students are referred to SG Enable and matched to a suitable employment or training pathway. The programme continues for one year after they graduate, during which they are supported by job coaches from SG Enable.
  • A pilot programme was conducted by MOE, MSF and SG Enable with five SPED schools. The programme has since been expanded to include all 15 SPED schools serving secondary-aged students.
  • Parents and students can view the positive outcomes of the programme, and find out more at SG Enable's website

In 2014, SG Enable launched the Hospital-to-Work (H2W) Programme.
  • The H2W programme enhances training and employment opportunities by supporting the return of persons with acquired disabilities to work, through exploring their capabilities, reskilling and case management.
  • With a person-centric approach, the H2W programme allows clients to participate more, as it focuses on their strengths and capabilities, rather than their limitations. It helps clients identify personal and achievable goals, and break them down into manageable steps so that clients can feel more confident in achieving them, to secure employment.

In 2015, MSF developed the Assisted Deputyship Application Programme (ADAP) in SPED schools. ADAP is gradually being extended to the Day Activity Centres and Sheltered Workshops.
  • ADAP makes the application for deputyship simpler and cheaper for parents of children with special needs. Parents, who are appointed as deputies by the Court, can continue to make legal decisions for their child, who do not have mental capacity to manage their matters in adulthood, even after he or she turns 21. The combination of template forms, psychologist reports and legal assistance reduces cost and simplifies the application process for parents. 

Schooling years: The education system continues to be more inclusive, with improvements in the quality and scope of education

Support in mainstream schools
In 2019, MOE announced the introduction of intervention programmes such as “Circle of Friends” and “Facing Your Fears” in mainstream schools, where students learn to better support their peers with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

  • “Circle of Friends” is a structured peer support intervention for students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Peers will be able to acquire deeper understanding of how best to support their friend, and hone soft skills such as active listening and problem solving.
  • “Facing Your Fears” is an intervention to help students with SEN who struggle with emerging anxiety. The students learn self-management strategies such as thinking helpful thoughts, deep breathing and taking concrete steps to face their specific fears through carefully-designed programmes.

MOE has been increasing the number of educators who support students with SEN in mainstream schools.
  • Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support): AEDs (LBS) are trained to conduct interventions for students with SEN to cope with learning, socio-emotional and behavioural challenges, with the aim to put them in good stead for adult life.
    • From 2016 to 2020, MOE increased the number of AED(LBS) by over 40% to over 600. Each primary school is given a baseline provision of two AEDs (LBS) and 95% of secondary schools are given a baseline provision of one AED(LBS).
    • In 2020, MOE revamped the AED(LBS) scheme to provide greater career progression for AED(LBS). This includes continued expansion of the Senior AED(LBS) group and appointment of the first two Lead AEDs(LBS).
    • In 2018, MOE has progressively introduced enhanced training to build capacity of schools' case management teams to identify and support students with SEN, specifically in the areas of learning, behavioral, social and emotional needs. 
  • In 2020, the SEN Professional Development Roadmap was introduced, in alignment with the SkillsFuture for Educators framework, to enhance baseline pre-service and in-service training in SEN support for educators in mainstream schools.
  • As of November 2020, all mainstream schools have at least one PE teacher trained in Inclusive PE. This allows students with SEN to actively participate in PE by receiving the appropriate support.

In 2017, MOE developed a Transition Support Framework which provides guidelines, strategies and resources for schools to implement systematic transition support.
  • Comprehensive resources related to the Transition Support Framework are available to schools. MOE has also provided training for school personnel to ensure better support for students experiencing transitions both within and across schools.

In 2018, Mayflower Secondary School (MFPS) became the first designated mainstream primary school to support students with Hearing Loss (HL) who require the use of sign language. 
  • This adds to the six mainstream secondary schools already designated for hearing loss or visual impairment.
  • MFPS adopts a co-teaching model where a mainstream teacher and a specialised teacher jointly plan, coordinate, and deliver instruction to a diverse group of students. Singapore Sign language (SgSL) is used to support instruction for pupils with hearing loss. Specialised teachers undergo basic teacher training, which is further augmented with continuing professional development course offered by the National Institute of Education (NIE) and Singapore Association of the Deaf (SADeaf).
  • View the educational journey for a student with HL, from a designated mainstream school supporting children with hearing loss or visual impairment.
  • From the 2022 K1 cohort, the MOE Kindergarten at MFPS will provide dedicated support for children with moderate-to-profound HL who require early signing instruction. The HL (Signing) programme will support them in building basic first language proficiency in SgSL, and allow them access to Speech and Language therapy and audiological services.

MOE piloted Transition Support for Integration (TRANSIT) programme, in which Primary One students with social and behavioural needs can receive targeted intervention.
  • Students with social and behavioural needs can get support from Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) and teachers in small groups and within their form classes.
  • TRANSIT aims to ease these students' transition into primary school by helping them develop independence through learning self-management skills based on their specific needs.
  • By end-2021, MOE would have piloted TRANSIT in about 40 schools, or one in five primary schools. They will be progressively implemented to all primary schools by 2026 for Primary 1 students with social and behavioural needs. 

Support in SPED Schools
Since the 2019 Primary 1 cohort, students with moderate-to-severe special educational needs (SEN) have been included under the Compulsory Education (CE) Framework.

  • In 2016, a 17 member advisory panel, chaired by then-Minister of State for Education Dr Janil Puthucheary, was appointed to study the implementation of the CE
  • The expansion of the Compulsory Education Framework ensures that all children with SEN complete primary education with appropriate support provisions and programmes, in either a mainstream or government-funded SPED school.

MOE continues to partner NIE and SPED schools to improve the quality of curriculum  and instruction.
  • MOE has released an Individual Planning Guide to support schools in person-centred planning through the Individual Education Plan and Individual Transition Plan for students to be successful in school and achieve successful post-school outcomes.
  • MOE has worked with NIE and SSAs to deliver annually or bi-annually a range of service courses in Assessment, Autism, Hearing Loss, National Curriculum, among others. 
  • MOE provides training opportunities for Physical Education (PE) teachers in SPED schools:
    • As of November 2020, all SPED schools have PE teachers trained in Adapted PE.
    • Communities of Practice and workshops were organised for SPED teachers to share useful strategies that could be applied to their PE programme to better support SPED students. This aims to improve the learning experience and quality of PE for SPED students, cultivate lifelong passion and interest towards sports, and encourage student to take ownership of their physical fitness to remain active even beyond graduation.
  • MOE promotes the use of assistive technology and accessibility tools to support students’ learning:
    • MOE worked with NIE to develop the ‘Introduction to Assistive Technology’ course for in-service SPED teachers. Commenced in 2020, this course equips teachers with the basic knowledge and skills to use assistive technologies to better support students’ needs.
    • Through the Community of Practice sessions organised by MOE, SPED teachers also learn about new tools or innovative strategies (e.g. smart assistants and mobile phone’s voice-to-text functions), which can be used as affordable and readily accessible resources to support student needs.

New SPED schools to enhance accessibility to SPED for students of different disability profiles. 
  • From 2017 to 2019, MOE announced the set-up of seven new autism-specific schools. Click on the following links for MOE’s press releases announcing the set ups.
    •  2017: Autism Association Singapore (AAS), AWWA Ltd and Rainbow Centre will be opening Eden School 2 (Eden 2), AWWA School 2 (AWWA 2) and Rainbow Centre School 3 (RC3) respectively. 
    • July 2019: Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) (ARC(S)) will be opening Pathlight School 2 (Pathlight 2). 
    • November 2019: Metta Welfare Association will be opening Metta School 2 (Metta 2), a new school for students who have autism with intellectual impairment. ARC (S) will be opening Pathlight School 3 (Pathlight 3) and a selected agency will be opening another new SPED school which caters to students with moderate SEN who have autism and can access the National Curriculum (NC). 
    • December 2020: Update on starting year of operation at permanent locations for new SPED schools: 
    • 2022: Eden 2, AWWA 2, and RC 3 to begin operations
    • 2024: Metta 2, Pathlight 2 (to also cater to post-primary students)
    • 2027: ARC(S) to begin operating Pathlight 3,and St. Andrew's Mission Hospital to begin operating the new SPED school for students who have autism and can access NC. 
  • These schools will help to address the growing demand for SPED school places for students with moderate-to-severe SEN who have autism and require specialised and intensive support in their learning.
  • The seven new autism-specific schools will be located across Singapore to ensure geographical spread of SPED schools.
  • In 2020, MOE also announced the expansion and redevelopment of Chaoyang School and Tanglin School, which serve students with mild intellectual disability at the primary and secondary ages respectively.
  • In 2021, MOE announced the expansion of Grace Orchard School (GOS) to cater to a total of 600 students, up from its current capacity of 450. GOS serves students aged 7 to 18 years old with mild intellectual disability. This expansion will help meet the demand for school places in the West. 

SPED has become more affordable. 

16 out of 19 SPED schools have established satellite partnerships with mainstream schools.
  • Satellite partnerships provide purposeful and appropriate opportunities for integration and interaction between SPED and mainstream school students. Where appropriate, students from SPED schools also join their mainstream peers for academic learning.
  • These partnerships have helped raise general awareness of SEN in mainstream schools and developed better social and emotional competencies among students in mainstream schools. SPED students are also provided with authentic learning opportunities to develop their social interaction, communication and daily living skills, to integrate better into the community.
  • MOE is working towards expanding such partnerships to all SPED schools.

MOE is supporting the professional development for SPED teachers to improve the quality of SPED.
  • In 2020, MOE launched the "SPED Teaching Profession: Journeys of Excellence Package”, which comprises a new SPED Teacher Career Framework and Role Profile, and a new SPED Teacher Competency Framework with Training Roadmap.
  • SPED teachers will be provided with more career pathways that would better meet their aspirations, along with training and development opportunities that would help them build the necessary skillsets. To support SPED teachers’ understanding of career pathways and the various sectoral frameworks, a development guide was also released.
  • New hires will be supported with a new pre-service package, which includes the enhanced Diploma in Special Education (DISE).
    • The contract teaching stint will provide new SPED teachers valuable practical school experience before enrolment into DISE.
    • The revamped DISE, with enhanced structure and content, and extended duration of study from 10 months to 12 months, supports new teachers in guiding, nurturing and empowering students with SEN.

In 2018, MOE launched updated guides and resources for professionals and parents to spread awareness about SEN and support decision-making about school placement.
  • The Professional Practice Guidelines (PPG) for psycho-educational assessment and placement of students are targeted at Allied Health Professionals (AHP) across different sectors (health, education and social services) and distributed to all relevant stakeholders (e.g. SPED schools, SSAs, government hospitals).
  • An updated Parent’s Guide (“Which School for My Child? – A Parent’s Guide for Children with SEN”), which provides guidance on SEN support and educational placement, was also launched in 2018.
  • MOE has been collaborating with KKH, NUH as well as Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) centres to organise Parent Forums for parents of K1/K2 children with SEN, to emphasise the importance of early intervention, transition support, and educational support at school ages.

More affordable after-school care services

In 2020, MSF further reduced fees for most families of children who require Special Student Care Centre (SSCC) services, with reductions averaging 30 to 80%.
  • This was done by enhancing subsidies and broadening the income criteria for means-tested subsidies so that more families qualify for Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA) for SSCCs, with effect from 1 July 2020.

Enhanced support for students with SEN in Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs)

Enhancements to SEN Fund to better support full-time Singaporean students with SEN in polytechnics and ITE in their learning.
  • In 2017, a High-Needs category was introduced to provide more subsidy for high-needs students. For example, high-needs students with Hearing Loss (HL) can access a full subsidy cap of $70,000 if he/she has been professionally assessed to require Communication Access Services (CAS) (i.e. note-taking and sign-language interpretation services). Students with Physical Impairment or Visual Impairment (PI/VI) will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine their subsidy amount (up to $70,000) based on the student’s assessed needs.
  • In 2020, the SEN Fund was extended to students with learning and language difficulties, such as Dyslexia, and social and behavioural difficulties, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. These students can use up to $5,000 from the SEN Fund to purchase AT devices so long as they are professionally certified to require these devices to support their learning.

Smoother transition for students with SEN to post-school life

Since 2017, MOE has worked with SPED schools to implement school-wide Transition Planning for every SPED student from the age of 13 years old.
  • SPED schools serving secondary-aged students are provided with a dedicated position of a Transition Planning Coordinator (TPC), as well as a Guide for Transition Planning.
  • MOE set up regular platforms for TPCs to come together for regular updates from post-school agencies and engage in professional collaboration and networking.
  • In 2020, MOE initiated an inaugural course for TPCs to enhance their capability in implementing person-centred Transition Planning for all students and their families.
  • As of September 2020, about 400 graduating SPED students benefit from the Transition Planning process every year.

In 2017, SG Enable launched the RISE Mentorship Programme.
  • Under the RISE Mentorship programme, students with SEN from IHLs are matched with business/sector leaders from corporates, MNCs, the public sector and other inclusive employers. Through the programme, participants will be able to gain a better understanding of their skills and abilities, build professional networks and tap into their mentors’ wealth of knowledge and work experience.

Since 2017, MSF, MOE, and SG Enable have been working with SSAs to help parents and students understand the range of options available to them after SPED.  
  • From 2017-2019, annual roadshows were conducted with Day Activity Centres (DACs) and Sheltered Workshops (SWs).
  • The roadshows gave caregivers and SPED students a better understanding of their post- SPED options as well as the programs and activities conducted by the DACs and SWs. In 2019, 16 DACs and SWs participated in the Roadshow, reaching almost 250 caregivers and SPED students. There was no roadshow in 2020 due to the COVID-19 situation.

Since 2019, MOE, MSF and SG Enable has expanded the School-to-Work Transition (S2W) Programme to all 15 SPED schools serving secondary aged students.
  • SG Enable is piloting extending the post-school support by its job coaches to up to 2 years after the students graduate.
  • Before students are referred to SG Enable and supported by school-based job coaches, funded by MOE and NCSS. The job coaches are instrumental in setting up a structured system of authentic work experiences to support students’ vocational training. Through this process, students are supported to cultivate their work interests and build their work readiness skills.
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