Parliament: More school staff hired over last 5 years to help students with socio-emotional and behavioural needs

SINGAPORE – More support staff will be recruited to help students deal with their socio-emotional needs and behavioural issues.

The number of such staff has already grown by more than 30 per cent over the past five years, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling said in Parliament on Friday (Feb 28).

She added that to continue to meet student needs, the Ministry of Education (MOE) intends to recruit more school counsellors, student welfare officers and allied educators (learning and behavioural support) in the coming years.

Student welfare officers help students with long-term absenteeism and family challenges.

Allied educators (learning and behavioural support) work with students in mainstream schools who have special needs such as dyslexia, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Responding to Workers’ Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera, who had asked if the MOE was reducing or hiring more allied educators in schools, Ms Low said that the ministry is scaling back the number of allied educators (teaching and learning), who provide more general classroom support.

There is less need for this job role, with smaller student cohorts and enough teachers in schools today, she said, adding that the MOE will review its teaching and allied educator numbers.

Meanwhile, the ministry is helping existing allied educators (teaching and learning) to move to other specialised roles.

Over the last two years, the ministry has sponsored around 100 allied educators (teaching and learning) to pursue a 10-month full-time diploma in special education at the National Institute of Education, and plans to train another 100 this year.

Ms Low said MOE currently employs around 2,000 allied educators across mainstream schools.

Each school is typically resourced with one to two school counsellors, and one to two allied educators (learning and behavioural support).

Some schools also have a student welfare officer.

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