Support programmes available for small groups of students with dyslexia

Published Date: 26 March 2018 12:00 AM

News Forum Letter Replies

We thank Jaren Lam Tze Cong, Tan Zhi Bin and Anastasia Wen Xin Shaifudin for their letter, “Small class size more beneficial for students with special learning needs” (March 15).

We would like to give some information on the ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in supporting students with special educational needs, including small class sizes. In mainstream schools, students with special educational needs receive a range of support. These include specialised support programmes and services, specialised personnel such as teachers trained in special needs, allied educators (learning and behavioural support) and MOE psychologists who provide consultation and advice. In our Special Education (Sped) schools, there is more support, with very small class sizes and specialised personnel such as speech and language therapists and occupational therapists. While dyslexia is one of the more common special educational needs, students who receive the right intervention can master relevant skills to overcome these learning difficulties and learn on par with their peers.

At Primary 1, students with literacy difficulties are identified to join the two-year Learning Support Programme (LSP) available in all primary schools. This is an early intervention programme for students who begin school without appropriate early literacy skills. At Primary 1 and 2, the LSP is conducted in class sizes of fewer than 10, five times a week. The small number who continue to face literacy difficulties after the LSP intervention are screened for dyslexia. Students identified as dyslexic are supported through the School-based Dyslexia Remediation (SDR) programme at Primary 3 and 4. SDR is an after-school programme conducted in class sizes of four to six, four times a week, by specially trained teachers. The LSP and SDR are intensive support programmes to help students level up their literacy skills so they can cope with the demands of the mainstream curriculum. As these students also join their form class for the formal curriculum lessons, they concurrently benefit from wider social interactions and learning among their peers. Students who require support for dyslexia after Primary 4 may enrol for specialised remediation, which is subsidised by MOE, at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. MOE also provides financial assistance to those who need it. Some students may also find the Foundation Subjects more suitable, and these classes are typically smaller in size.

Many of these specialised programmes and services are fairly new initiatives that have been implemented gradually over recent years and are targeted at the primary level, as early intervention is vital to bring about desired outcomes. Support continues at the secondary level, where teachers are trained to provide differentiated instruction to meet students’ needs. As students with special educational needs acquire the skills to overcome their learning difficulties, they find themselves less reliant on support and are more independent in their learning. Such independence is a key attribute in their tertiary studies and in adult life as they continue to pursue life-long learning.

MOE will continue to explore and study best practices to better reach out to and support all students, including those with special educational needs. Your interest in improving education also serves to spur us on.

Mrs Lucy Toh
Divisional Director
Special Educational Needs Division
Ministry of Education

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