Learn for Life - Equipping Ourselves for a Changing World: Education as an Uplifting Force to Strengthen Opportunities for All

Published Date: 03 March 2021 07:00 PM

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The Ministry of Education (MOE) is committed to supporting our students with the necessary educational resources and opportunities across all stages of their lives, regardless of their circumstances. In line with this, MOE will continue to invest more resources for students who need more help, and enhance inclusion for students with Special Educational Needs (SEN), in both mainstream and Special Education (SPED) schools, throughout their various stages of education. Through efforts under the Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce (UPLIFT), we will also ensure that disadvantaged students are well-supported, to help them reach their full educational potential.

Rollout of Transit (Transition Support for Integration) in All Primary Schools by 2026

2. MOE will introduce TRANsition Support for InTegration (TRANSIT) in all primary schools by 2026. TRANSIT aims to support Primary One (P1) students with social and behavioural difficulties, to aid their transition into primary school by helping them develop independence through learning foundational self-management skills based on their specific needs. They will be supported by Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) [AEDs(LBS)] and teachers in small groups and within their form classes during their P1 year. The TRANSIT curriculum will focus on strengthening self-management skills, with students learning more about good classroom work habits, managing their emotions well, and developing their social and communication skills. Students learn these skills through a structured approach involving role-play, independent practice and coaching by trained staff.

3. By end-2021, about 40 schools would have piloted TRANSIT, with five to 10 P1 students in each school benefitting from the intervention each year. Outcomes in pilot schools so far have been promising, enabling most students to improve their social and behavioural skills to self-regulate and learn in classroom settings independently.

4. In the rollout of TRANSIT, MOE will provide Professional Development (PD) for educators to plan self-management skills teaching, develop intervention plans and classroom strategies, and closely monitor students' progress. Such TRANSIT-related PD will also serve to build up the school's capabilities to support other students with SEN.

Expansion of Capacity of SPED Schools in the West for Students with Mild Intellectual Disability

5. In line with our commitment to enhancing accessibility to quality SPED for students whose level of SEN requires a specialised SPED curriculum and high level of support, MOE will be working with Presbyterian Community Services to expand Grace Orchard School (GOS). GOS caters to students aged seven to 18 who are diagnosed with Mild Intellectual Disability (MID). This follows MOE's earlier announcement of the expansion and redevelopment of Chaoyang School and Tanglin School, in November 2020, for students with MID and updates on the seven new schools for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

6. With the expansion, GOS will provide 600 places for students aged seven to 18, up from the current 450 places. The former Clementi Woods Secondary School will serve as an interim site from the second half of 2021, so that it can take in more students before the expansion plans are completed.

7. As part of the expansion, GOS will be built to updated building specifications to improve students' learning experiences. For example, GOS will have dedicated space for vocational training facilities, to provide its students with more opportunities to hone their skills in preparation for vocational certification programmes upon graduation. GOS will also have larger classrooms for all students and more spaces to cater to students who also have ASD. There will also be indoor and outdoor facilities for Physical Education, Sports and Games such as sheltered playgrounds and outdoor fitness areas.

8. MOE will continue to monitor the demand for SPED school places, and work with the various Social Service Agencies to provide sufficient capacity to cater to specific student profiles. Meanwhile, we will continue to review the facilities in SPED schools, to support and enhance the educational experience of SPED students.

Uplift Initiatives to Support Disadvantaged Students

9. UPLIFT will continue to safeguard social mobility by strengthening wraparound support for disadvantaged students and their families, as well as leveraging stakeholder support to help these students reach their full educational potential. UPLIFT's upcoming key focus areas include:

Expanding UPLIFT efforts to support more disadvantaged students

10. The UPLIFT Community Pilot started in January 2020 at Woodlands, Kreta Ayer and Boon Lay to provide support to disadvantaged students who require help to attend school more regularly. It has supported about 100 primary and secondary students and is on track to reach out to more than 300 students by 2022. Around 80% of the students who were placed on the pilot have seen an improvement in attendance by the end of 2020 despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Starting this February, the UPLIFT Community pilot will be extended to Bukit Merah.

11. UPLIFT has also been actively recruiting and training volunteers to be UPLIFT Family Befrienders to support the disadvantaged students and their families. Since February this year, the befrienders have been checking in regularly on the families through home visits and phone calls to offer friendship and informal assistance. For instance, the befrienders may offer practical timely help to support the family, such as filing forms or explain support programmes. By the end of this year, UPLIFT hopes to enlist the help of more than 100 volunteers to support at least 80 families.

Further strengthening after-school care and support

12. Currently, all 186 primary schools have a Student Care Centre (SCC). The total number of students enrolled in school-based SCCs has increased from 27,000 in 2020 to 28,500 in 2021. This year, schools have stepped up efforts to identify, enrol and provide support to students who would most benefit from after-school care in school-based SCCs. To facilitate their enrolment, schools proactively reach out to their families to encourage them to enrol their children in SCCs and work with community partners to tackle any challenges that may be faced in the enrolment process.

13. Secondary schools have also set up after-school programmes under Guiding & Empowering students for Affiliation and Resilience to Unlock their Potential (GEAR-UP), which focus on befriending and mentoring by trusted adults, peer support and relationships, and interest-based activities to engage disadvantaged students meaningfully. These after-school programmes have benefitted over 6,700 students.

14. We will continue to enhance after-school engagement in primary and secondary schools. Schools will work closely with community partners and volunteer groups to strengthen students' school connectedness, learning motivation and resilience, through befriending and mentoring, skills-based workshops, and literacy and numeracy learning support.

Strengthening partnership with community partners

15. To maximise synergies across various government and community agencies and optimise the use of resources to better support disadvantaged students and their families, UPLIFT has expanded its membership by bringing in more ground networks and expertise. The nine new members include heads of Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Chief Executive Director of People's Association and Executive Director of Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence (PAVE). The latest list of UPLIFT members can be found in Annex A.

16. UPLIFT will continue to step up its efforts to facilitate sustainable school-community partnerships by building on existing partnerships and bringing in new community partners to support disadvantaged students, in areas such as strengthening their social-emotional development and broadening their skillsets.

17. As we transform the education system to better prepare our students to seize opportunities and realise their full potential, we will ensure that education remains an uplifting force for every student, regardless of their background.

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