Parliamentary Replies

August 06, 2018

Accessibility of children with special needs to schools

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah, Nee Soon GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) how many special needs children of school-going age are there currently; (b) how many of these children are enrolled in a school; (c) whether schools with places for special needs children can be made more accessible in heartland locations; and (d) what is being done to ensure that each child has a place in a school appropriate for the child's specific needs.

Response

1. As at Dec 2017, there were 30,000 students with a reported Special Educational Need (SEN). About 80% of them are in mainstream schools and 20% are in Special Education (SPED) schools. Many children with SEN obtain a diagnosis during their pre-school years, - usually at KKH and NUH Child Development Centres - and a majority of them benefit from early intervention.

2. Today, the 19 SPED schools are geographically spread across the island, with most SPED schools in heartland locations such as Ang Mo Kio, Hougang, Jurong West and Yishun. Three additional SPED school campuses have started operations this year and additional SPED school campuses are being planned.

3. Amongst the 19 SPED schools are those that focus on the needs of students with a specific disability profile, as well as those which serve a range of disabilities. For example, a student with moderate to severe cerebral palsy would attend the CPAS school, a student with moderate to severe Intellectual Disability as well as autism could attend a MINDS school and a student with multiple disabilities and autism could attend a Rainbow Centre school.

4. Because the number of students with a specific SEN is not large, many are best served by central and specialised centres. This means that it may not always be possible to find a suitable SPED in the neighbourhood. Notwithstanding, over the years, we have made good progress towards ensuring that each child with SEN is able to attend a school that caters to his needs.