Help for special needs students to set up post-school goals

Students with special needs will get more help to support them beyond graduation via a guide and training scheme.

From next year, all special education (Sped) schools will receive a guide titled Transition Planning For Living, Learning And Working - Making It Happen, to help students with setting post-school goals.

"Careful planning and preparation is important for such students and their families," said the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday in a statement, acknowledging the challenges of transiting from school.

Sped schools will work more closely with their students from the age of 13, as well as their families, and help link them up with relevant services after they graduate.

For instance, a student could have an Individual Transition Plan that would help him see which pathway best fits his interests.

Lisa Goh, principal of Grace Orchard School, one of the five schools which tested the guide last year, said it provides suggestions and templates on how schools and parents can prepare students for the transition process.

Her school worked with parents, teachers, training instructors, job coaches and therapists, as well as the students, to come up with individual plans for students based on their strengths and interests.

All its 18-year-olds - 14 of them - have drawn up such customised transition plans, and the school will be extending it to younger cohorts, from 15 to 17 years old, next year.

Wong Mah Li, 51, whose 18-year-old son Shawn has Down syndrome, said she appreciated how Grace Orchard School looked out for job stints for him that suited his outgoing personality.

He is graduating from the school this month.

During school, he tried out attachments at places such as an equestrian academy and a social enterprise bakery, Flour Power, and will be starting part-time work at the latter in January next year.

"I meet his job coach, teachers and work supervisors now and then, to look at how he's doing and see if the job fits him," said Madam Wong, a real-estate agent.

Meanwhile, a programme to help Sped students move on to the workplace has borne some fruit, said MOE, the Ministry of Social and Family Development and disabilities support agency SG Enable yesterday.

Of the 30 students who joined the School-to-Work Transition Programme, which started in 2014, 24 found a job, with 20 staying employed for at least six months.

Parents said the programme helped their children acquire work skills and more self-confidence and independence, while employers reported that their staff developed more positive attitudes towards people with disabilities.

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