Six schools for students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) will lower their fees by at least 25 per cent, while the Ministry of Education (MOE) will set up three new government-funded special education schools.
These measures were announced by Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah on Friday, Nov. 8.
Six SPED schools will lower fees
From Jan. 2020, six SPED schools which currently charge fees on the higher end of the spectrum will lower their fees by at least 25 per cent 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.
Indranee also said the government's funding for SPED schools has increased by 40 per cent over the past five years.
"Our progress is possible only because all of us – MOE, the National Council of Social Services, our Social Service Agencies, schools, parents and caregivers – work hand in hand to provide a strong support system for all our students."
There are currently 19 government funded SPED schools, run by 12 social service organisations.
New SPED schools for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Indranee said the MOE will also be working with various Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to set up three new government-funded SPED schools.
These are aimed at addressing the growing demand for special education (SPED) school places for students with moderate-to-severe SEN, and who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Where will these new schools be?
Metta Welfare Association will be operating a new SPED school in 2021, for students with both ASD and intellectual disability (ASD-ID).
The new school will provide about 25 places per cohort, which will translate to 300 additional school places for students with ASD-ID aged between seven and 18 years old.
The school will be located at the current Metta School campus in Simei from 2021 to 2024, before a new campus located in the East is ready.
The MOE will also be opening two new SPED schools that will incorporate the Singapore primary and secondary national curricula for students with ASD who have the aptitude to do so.
There will also be a suitable post-primary programme for students who are unable to access the national secondary curriculum.
The ministry will be working with the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) (ARC) to set up one of these two schools.
For the second new school, MOE will conduct a limited invitation for proposals from eligible agencies, and more details will be shared when ready.
Enhancing inclusivity in mainstream schools
Currently, 80 per cent of students with SEN are enrolled in mainstream schools.
Hence, Indranee said MOE will introduce two peer support programmes in primary and secondary schools, in order to ensure schools remain inclusive, safe and accommodating for students with SEN.
The first programme, Circle of Friends (CoF), aims to help primary and secondary students with SEN who experience social, emotional or behavioural challenges.
The second programme, Facing Your Fears (FYF), is designed to help secondary students with SEN to cope with emerging anxieties.
MOE will be introducing these programmes to all mainstream schools over the next few years, Indranee said, after pilot programmes in several schools have shown positive outcomes.
Top image from Pathlight School.