Together with three existing government-funded special education (Sped) schools here, four new sped schools will progressively begin operations on new campuses at permanent sites in Singapore from 2022.

This is part of the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s ongoing efforts to enhance accessibility to Sped for students with moderate-to-severe special educational needs.

The MOE had, over the past few years, announced the set-up of these new schools.

Between 2017 and 2019, the ministry had said it would work with social service agencies Awwa, the Autism Association Singapore, Rainbow Centre and Metta Welfare Association to set up four new Sped schools.

This was to address the growing demand for places for students who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with intellectual impairment.

These four Sped schools – Eden School 2, AWWA School 2, Rainbow Centre School 3 and Metta School 2 – will begin operations at their permanent sites between 2022 and 2024

The MOE said the official names of these schools will be confirmed only at the time of school registration, before the schools move to their permanent sites.

For now, each new school’s working name is pegged to the name of the Sped school currently operated by the same organisation.

Each school will provide 25 places per year and each will have an eventual total capacity of 300 students. Collectively, they will provide up to 1,200 additional places.

From 2022, Eden School 2 will operate at the site of the former Hong Kah Primary School in Bukit Batok West Ave 2, while AWWA School 2 will be at the site of the former Bedok West Primary School at 50 Bedok Reservoir Crescent. Rainbow Centre School 3 will be located in Admiralty Link/Admiralty Lane.

From 2024, Metta School 2 will operate from the site of the former Coral Primary School in Pasir Ris Street 51.

In all, there will be six Sped schools catering to students who have ASD with intellectual impairment from 2021. The other two schools are Eden School and St Andrew’s Autism School.

Last year, the MOE also announced that it was working with social service agencies to set up three new government-funded Sped schools that can support students with moderate special educational needs who have ASD but can access the national curriculum.

Two of the schools are Pathlight School 2 and Pathlight School 3, which are run by the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore).

Pathlight School 2 will provide 500 primary level school places and 300 post-primary level school places, with its permanent location at the former East View Primary School from 2024.

Pathlight School 3 will provide 500 primary and 400 post-primary level school places, with a new campus to be constructed at Tengah, estimated by 2027.

The third school will be run by St Andrew’s Mission Hospital (SAMH). It was selected through a limited invitation for proposals approach that was open to eligible agencies.

This school will start operating at the to-be-vacated Yusof Ishak Secondary School as its interim site in 2022, providing 75 places per cohort.

At its permanent site in Clementi, estimated by 2027, it will be able to provide 500 primary and 350 post-primary level school places.

Dr Arthur Chern, group chief executive of Singapore Anglican Community Services and SAMH, said: “We will strive to provide the students with not only a firm foundation in the national curriculum, but also important life and vocational skills.

“Our ultimate aim is to enable them to live an independent life after graduation and be fully integrated into society.”

Along with Pathlight School 1, there will be four government-funded Sped schools that support such students with moderate special educational needs, from 2022.

The MOE said it will continue to monitor the demand for Sped school places, and work with the social service agencies to ensure sufficient capacity.

It will also review the facilities in Sped schools to support and enhance the learning experience of students, it added.

Text: Jolene Ang/The Straits Times