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Are you looking for a special needs school?

Singapore has schools to educate children across a wide range of different learning requirements. One in particular, Melbourne Specialist International School (MSIS), is the place to go if your child could benefit from a special needs school. We asked a current student, 15-year-old Melanie, to give us an insight into her school days, and the MSIS Principal, Daryl Van Hale, to explain how the school supports Melanie in her studies.

special needs school at MSIS
MSIS students learn vocational skills at The Pantry Social Enterprise Café

Programmes for high-school-aged children

Melanie: “I joined MSIS in January 2017 and have absolutely loved every moment of my time here. My class is called Pathways 4, Transition 5-6. My favourite activities at school are attending Vocational Training, dance, drama and music.”

Daryl: “Older students (aged 13 to 21 years) attend either Transition 4 or Transition 5-6 (Transition to Life). The children are older so it is developmentally appropriate that these classes focus on more on academics, compared to the younger students. Social skills, self-care skills and pre-vocational training are also taught – these are very important for them after they leave school.”

Learning life skills

Melanie: “In Life Skills I enjoyed making corn and zucchini muffins at The Pantry. I choose my own drink and snack for lunch when we visit The Pantry.”

Daryl: “Life Skills are taught at The Pantry Social Enterprise Café, which supports the training and work placement of individuals with disabilities. Pupils from MSIS gain pre-vocational skills that help them to become more independent and can therefore assist them with finding employment in the future.”

Experiencing the world on field trips

Melanie: “My favourite field trip so far was to visit the Enabling Village when we had the chance to buy our own things in the NTUC supermarket. I also enjoyed the River Walk along the canal which takes all the water to the sea. For Earth Day, I read the book Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and learnt about the environment when we went on an outing to clean up the beach at East Coast.”

Daryl: “Once a fortnight, the older pupils go on day trips to destinations outside of school. These excursions have enabled the students to increase their confidence and independence in the community, and have provided a great learning experience.”

Vocational training at The Pantry

Melanie: “Pre-vocational training is about going to The PantrySocial Enterprise Café to help clean and cook and serve customers. I like cleaning but I don’t like sweeping. I also like going with my friends to the nearby White Lodge Kindergarten and helping the young children; I enjoy looking after them and telling them stories.”

Daryl: “Pre-vocational Training is different from Life Skills – it’s an extension to those lessons. Life Skills are taught to all students, and can apply to many of the activities in the home, or elsewhere, that the child must learn to become self-reliant. Examples include brushing their teeth, bathing independently, folding laundry, cooking and keeping the house clean.

“The focus of Pre-vocational Training is to teach the soft and hard skills a young person needs to be successful in getting and keeping a job. Soft skills are needed to on any job: taking and following directions, being on time and being polite, for example. Hard Skills pertain to a particular job: washing dishes, waiting a table, baking cookies and making a cappuccino, for example. We currently focus on the food and beverage industry. As time goes on, we hope to expand this to give our students more opportunities that fit their personalities and interests, such as Melanie’s enjoyment of helping at White Lodge Kindergarten.”

Academic learning

Melanie: “In English, the teacher gives us our English books and sometimes we have a worksheet, because it helps us think and be more independent. I like music, drama and dance; last week we performed three items including a Salsa dance and the ‘Count on Me’ song.”

Daryl: “Each student follows an individual learning programme that is developed to suit their needs. MSIS uses the arts as a vehicle for learning – so, music, art and drama. We also combine education, therapy and wellbeing to plan and deliver learning on an individual basis. Teachers, specialists and therapists work together to address the specific needs of each student.”

Melbourne Specialist International School is at 75C Loewen Road.
6634 8891 | msis.edu.sg


Want to know more? Read about more student experiences at special needs school in Singapore