SINGAPORE: A second school for students with multiple disabilities will be set up in the west of Singapore, announced Minister of State for Education Sun Xueling on Monday (Mar 7).
Students with multiple disabilities have at least two impairments across a range of sensory, cognitive and physical impairments, and may have accompanying medical issues.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will work with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore to set up the school, said Ms Sun, speaking in Parliament during the Committee of Supply debate.
“These students have complex needs which can affect their learning and mobility, and may also face medical challenges,” she added.
“Families can look forward to strong support for their child’s holistic development with SPED (special education) educators, allied professionals and parents working closely together.”
The school will serve students between the ages of seven and 18, said MOE in a separate factsheet.
"The school will offer programmes catered to students with moderate-to-high support needs built on a curriculum that seeks to develop in students’ skills to lead independent and meaningful lives," it said.
"It will also offer programmes that enable students to pick up vocational skills that would prepare them to contribute productively to community and life."
The other school dedicated to serving students with multiple disabilities is the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore School in Pasir Ris.
Ms Sun also provided an update on St Andrew’s Mission School, which began operations in January at its temporary site in Bukit Batok.
The school supports students with autism spectrum disorder who can access the national curriculum but need to learn in a special education setting due to their moderate level of special education needs.
The school’s permanent site will be located next to Nan Hua High School, and it will provide 500 primary and 350 post-primary level school places, she said.
The school is expected to move to its permanent site in 2027, said MOE.
With St Andrew’s Mission School, there are 22 special education schools across Singapore serving students with moderate-to-severe special education needs.
“In our mainstream schools, all students with SEN (special education needs), with or without a diagnosis, can get support. As part of our whole-school approach, support is provided through inclusive classroom practices by all teachers, guided by teachers trained in special needs and allied educators in learning and behavioural support,” said Ms Sun.
“A small number of students may need individualised therapy delivered in clinical settings, or they may need a customised curriculum in a SPED school. For these students, schools work with MOE educational psychologists and parents to facilitate referrals.”
UPDATES TO UPLIFT PROGRAMME
In his speech, Second Minister Maliki Osman provided updates on the Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce, or UPLIFT programmes.
UPLIFT, or the Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce, aims to strengthen support for underperforming students from disadvantaged families, in particular by tackling long-term absenteeism and drop-out rates in schools.
Stressing the importance of supporting students in disadvantaged circumstances, Dr Maliki said: “These students may not have the best environment or opportunities to support their learning. Some may also face challenges at home that could translate into poor attendance, motivation and self-esteem.
“We are committed to ensuring that these students are not limited by their starting points in life.”
MOE will expand the UPLIFT Enhanced School Resourcing programme to about 100 schools over the next few years to support about 13,000 students.
The programme was introduced to provide schools with additional manpower, guidance and teaching resources to help students with higher needs more effectively. The initiative currently supports 47 schools, said Dr Maliki.
“Providing customised support and attention to students with higher needs requires time and dedication. We will support our schools in doing so,” he added.
As announced in the 2022 Budget statement, the UPLIFT Community Network will also be expanded to eight new towns this year.
The UPLIFT Community Pilot was started to strengthen support for school-going children in disadvantaged families. This includes connecting them with social service agencies and befrienders who check in with them regularly and provide mentorship.
When it is rolled out nationwide, 1,800 students and their families will be supported by the network each year, said Dr Maliki.
Since the pilot was started in 2020, it has supported more than 300 students in four towns so far, and most have seen improved attendance, and their families have seen increased community support, he added.
“We are grateful to community partners who have been supporting our UPLIFT efforts, and I urge more members of the community to step forward.”