More Special Needs Students in Mainstream

More Special Needs Students in Mainstream


Students in Mainstream

In the recent article in Straits Times, “More special Students in Mainstream” on 7 May 2010, it mentioned that have been a increase in the number of special needs students studying in the mainstream schools in Singapore.  


Some Singapore Schools such as Chong Boon Secondary School, Seng Kang Secondary School had seen number of such special needs students gown in the last 3 years.    MOE figures show that it had grown from 4000+ special needs children to 7600 in just 3 years!  That is really a huge growth within just 3 years and most of the growth comes from children with learning difficulties which has jumped 20% a year in the last 3 years!

There are few reasons why there is such a huge growth in such a short period of time. One of the main reason for this growth is that more children are being diagnosed by hospitals early either in preschool or before primary school.  Thanks to a greater awareness of autism by parents and guardians these children with learning disabilities are able to be identified and get their early intervention much earlier.   Another reason is that more mainstream teachers are being trained in special needs education.   They are now more capable of spotting signs of a learning problem in a child.

MOE (Ministry of Education) has stationed allied educators for learning and behavioral support to help out children with special needs.  By July 2010, all primary schools and 31 secondary schools will have at least one such officers.  About 2300 mainstream school teachers will have gone through training on special needs education by that time. (see my article on Government Plans on SNO and TSN ).


May Not Suit All Students

Not all special needs students can benefit from mainstream schools.  Children with milder conditions are encouraged to attend mainstream schools while those with more severe needs are recommended to continue in special schools.    Whether a special needs child should or should not attend a mainstream school depends on many factors which need to be accessed in each individual cases.  

Vice Principle of Pathlight, Ms Loy Sheau Mei, said  “We must also look at the readiness of the child and the family, as well as the availability of a suitable school”.   This will avoid a “mismatch” situation which may cause the child to struggle and dropped out of the system.

Those who could not meet the demands of mainstream school are enrolled in special education schools with accredited vocational education programmes so that they can be taught job skills.  As Chong Boon Secondary principal, Saraspathy Menon rightly said “It’s not just about giving them the scaffolding to support them through their current education, but beyond that – so they can survive in a world they are not so accustomed to.”

For those who are interested to put their child to mainstream, I would encourage you to attend “Course: Preparing My Child With Autism For Mainstream Learning Part 1” on 19 May.

Further reading

 Ready for Primary School ?

 Government plan for mainstream schools with special-needs officers

 School Places For Autistic Kids

 schooling phase


Photo credit by wongjunhao


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