Launch of Vocational Education Teaching and Learning Syllabus for Special Education Schools

Published Date: 27 July 2022 06:00 PM

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1. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is committed to enable all students in Special Education (SPED) schools to lead an independent life. This includes working with our partner SG Enable, employers and caregivers to support the work aspirations of our SPED graduates. We do this through the total SPED curriculum as well as the specific provision of dedicated staff and training facilities to support vocational education.

2. To better prepare SPED graduates for meaningful work contributions, MOE will implement the Vocational Education Teaching and Learning Syllabus (VE TLS) in 20 SPED schools from January 2023. This new VE TLS builds on the Framework for Vocational Education which was introduced in 2010.

Greater Emphasis on Soft Skills to Prepare SPED Graduates for Work

3. SPED schools are guided by MOE's SPED Curriculum Framework to achieve the desired outcomes of SPED. Since 2020, MOE has enhanced curriculum support by developing SPED Teaching and Learning Syllabuses (TLSs)1 across seven Learning Domains to provide SPED schools greater guidance in designing quality customised curricula to meet diverse learner profiles and needs.

4. Vocational Education, or VE, is a vital Learning Domain for all SPED students. The new VE TLS will adopt a broadened and more inclusive concept of work to recognise the diverse work pathways for SPED graduates, beyond open and supported employment. This includes sheltered and customised employment, volunteering, home-based work, and self-employment. With appropriate support, students can make meaningful and valued contributions to family and society via these pathways. The syllabus will also take a person-centered approach that focuses on how each student can learn and contribute based on their interests and strengths.

5. In addition, the syllabus will emphasise the intentional teaching of soft skills in authentic settings. The Soft Skills curriculum in the VE TLS comprises generic social and life skills (e.g. interacting in groups), core employability skills (e.g. problem-solving skills) and self-determination skills (e.g. self-advocacy) which are transferable across personal, social, and employment contexts and are organised into four core competencies of Self-management, Communication, Relating with Others, and Adaptability.

6. Through the VE TLS, students will go through a Continuum of Work Experience, guided collaboratively by SPED teachers, Job Coaches and Allied Professionals. Throughout their secondary schooling years, SPED students will be exposed to the world of work through community-based or school-based work activities. They can develop work-related skills (both soft and hard skills) by gaining familiarity with real work demands to enhance the eventual transition to work. Activities increase in duration and complexity and can be customised to suit students' development, interests, and strengths. This will help to reinforce skills for work that students are good at and interested in, and facilitate better transfer of learning. For example, through job shadowing, a student may demonstrate interest in the childcare sector. The school can then facilitate further authentic work experiences, such as work attachments, for the student to develop the necessary competencies through actual work settings.

7. MOE will work closely with SPED schools to implement the VE TLS. Efforts include conducting Interpretation and Implementation workshops for school personnel involved in designing and implementing the VE curriculum, so that they can translate the syllabus into a curriculum customised to their student profiles. In addition, online resources, professional sharing sessions and communities of practice will be set up to facilitate learning and sharing of good practices on pedagogy and assessment in VE.

8. Given the emphasis on intentional teaching of soft skills, MOE will collaborate with SG Enable to develop a Training Roadmap outlining professional development and capability building opportunities for Job Coaches in SPED schools. This will help Job Coaches improve their competencies in areas such as working with knowledge of disability and disability supports, pedagogical approaches, and instructional strategies (e.g. explicit instruction) for the teaching of soft skills, assessment of learning at Work Experience activities, as well as working with families.

Many Helping Hands Approach to Support Employment Aspirations of SPED Graduates

9. Beyond providing quality education, MOE also works closely with SPED schools, SG Enable as well as employers and caregivers to support SPED students' transition to post-school pathways based on their interests, abilities and needs. For example, the School-to-Work (S2W) Transition Programme provides SPED graduates who have diverse and more complex needs with customised place-and-train job training pathways to facilitate their transition to the workplace. Since S2W was introduced in 2014, it has benefited more than 250 students, with 80% of them successfully placed in employment.

10. Employers who hire and train persons with disabilities can tap on the Open Door Programme (ODP) administered by SG Enable. Under the ODP, persons with disabilities receive up to one year of job matching, and customised employment support from trained job coaches, while their employers can receive grants for workplace modifications and skills upgrading of their employees with disabilities. Employers can also tap on the Enabling Employment Credit, which provides wage offsets of up to 30 per cent for each Singaporean employee with disability earning below $4,000 per month.

11. To date, SG Enable and its job placement and job support partners have helped to place over 4,000 clients with higher support needs in employment, including persons with acquired disabilities from the Hospital-to-Work Programme. In addition, about 520 organisations have participated in training to learn how to recruit and integrate persons with disabilities at their workplace.

12. Furthermore, SG Enable provides training grants to training providers to defray the cost of employment-related training for persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities may also tap on the Temasek Trust-CDC Lifelong Learning Enabling Fund to further defray course fees, learning support services and learning devices.

13. Currently, about 450 students graduate from the SPED schools into various pathways each year. Around half of SPED graduates are successfully employed in sectors such as horticulture, Food and Beverage, retail and hospitality or progress to Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) like the Institute of Technical Education and further training. Through the VE TLS, these graduates as well as those with higher support needs, will be equipped to make a valued contribution in home, society and workplaces.

14. Enhancing vocational education is one of the many tenets that strengthen the SPED sector, and is part of our efforts under the larger national imperative of the Enabling Masterplan 2030 to nurture lifelong learners prepared for a fast-changing economy. It is also about ensuring that Singaporeans recognize the valued contributions our neighbours, relatives and friends with Special Needs can make if we give them the opportunity to do so. MOE remains committed to supporting the aspirations of students in SPED schools and preparing them to be more work-ready through an enhanced and more inclusive VE curriculum. We will continue to work alongside schools as well as key partners, employers, caregivers and the community to support SPED students' transition to post-school pathways.


Footnotes
  1. SPED TLSs will be developed for all seven Learning Domains of the SPED curriculum. They are: i) Communication and Language, ii) Numeracy, iii) Social-Emotional Learning, iv) Daily Living Skills, v) Arts, vi) Physical Education and vii) Vocational Education. The TLSs for Daily Living Skills and Visual Arts were launched in 2021, and the remaining TLSs will be released progressively over the next few years.

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