SEN support in mainstream schools

Published Date: 09 July 2018 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Jurong GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) what are the efforts to support placement of children with special needs in mainstream schools apart from deploying allied educators; (b) whether there is a comprehensive training plan for teachers in mainstream schools to cope with special needs students; (c) whether there are protocols to guide mainstream schools on the sharing of information between teachers and staff on caring for special needs students; and (d) whether briefing sessions for mainstream students can be arranged to improve their understanding of special needs for better integration with such students studying in their midst.

Response

1. Depending on their needs, students with Special Education Needs (SEN) in mainstream schools receive various support. These include specialised support programmes and services, such as assistive technological devices to support the integration and learning needs of students with visual, hearing or physical impairments and itinerant school-based services from Voluntary Welfare Organisations. They are also supported by specialised personnel such as teachers trained in special needs (TSNs), psychologists who provide consultation and advice, and Allied Educators.

2. In addition, schools have teams that oversee SEN support in a systemic way to facilitate the learning experiences of students with mild SEN in mainstream schools. As students’ build their coping strategies, they can typically progress through the system with little or even no support services.

3. Since 2005, teacher trainees have been provided with a basic understanding on supporting students with SEN and learning differences during their pre-service training at NIE. MOE has also been equipping a core group of teachers in all schools with deeper knowledge and skills in supporting the teaching and learning of students with special needs, through the TSN training programme, a certificate level training in SEN. MOE is also building up the numbers of Senior Teachers in SEN.

4. Teachers and Allied Educators regularly share strategies and skills with each other to enable them to better support students with SEN. Form Teachers meet frequently with their Year Heads to discuss the needs of their students including those with SEN and how they can be supported. In addition, MOE Psychologists and VWOs provide consultation and conduct teacher training and customised workshops, to build the capacity of school staff to support students with SEN.

5. We will continue to provide more professional development opportunities for our teachers to build their competencies in supporting students with SEN in their schools.

6. MOE has also developed a transition support framework. It provides guidelines for schools to facilitate a smoother transition for students with SEN across schools and levels. This framework covers guidance on the transfer of information as well, and includes rules on safeguarding confidentiality. These include obtaining parental consent for the transfer of information and sharing SEN-related information strictly on a need-to-know basis among relevant personnel. Teachers may also talk about a child’s needs with his peers, but they should avoid using labels such as the diagnosis.

7. It is important that other mainstream students can empathise with students with SEN. Empathy building is one of the key socio-emotional competencies taught in Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) in schools. There are CCE lessons that raise awareness of disabilities and how each person can play a part in developing an inclusive society. Schools have also forged partnerships with VWOs and special education schools to provide opportunities for students to interact meaningfully and deepen mutual understanding.

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