New Redhill pre-school will take in children with special needs to promote inclusivity

Children with special needs will be able to interact with typically developing children in a new pre-school that aims to enrol pupils from mid-2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
Children with special needs will be able to interact with typically developing children in a new pre-school that aims to enrol pupils from mid-2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

SINGAPORE - Children with special needs will be able to interact with typically developing children in a new pre-school that aims to enrol pupils from mid-2015.

The pre-school in Redhill will be the first in Singapore to work on the concept of integrating these two groups of children together.

At 1,100 sqm, the pre-school set up by philanthropic organisation Lien Foundation and voluntary welfare group Asian Women's Welfare Association (AWWA), is about twice the size of a typical one sited at a void deck of a Housing Board flat.

It will not have physiotherapy rooms or dedicated enclosures to separate the children.

It will be staffed by teachers who each have a degree, on top of an early childhood diploma. The pre-school will also employ a speech therapist and an occupational therapist.

Mr Lee Poh Wah, chief executive of Lien Foundation, said on Tuesday that he hopes to create a high quality pre-school with an early intervention programme for children of all abilities and backgrounds.

"We hope to provide a level playing field where children not only learn how to live with differences, but also learn from differences," he said.

Ms Christina Van Huizen, assistant director of AWWA, said: "In the true spirit of inclusion, we will take in children with all ranges of special needs, including those with medical needs."

The pre-school will be set within a 30,000 sqm integrated community space for people with disabilities in Redhill acquired by SG Enable, a government-established agency which provides services for the disabled. SG Enable had earlier said in July that it aims to open the integrated space to the public by mid-2015.

When it operates at full enrolment, the pre-school will take in 75 pupils, with 30 per cent of spaces allocated to children with special needs. It will start with an intake of about 30 pupils, but is expected to reach full enrolment by January 2016.

Children enrolled in the playgroup class will have three teachers to 10 children, with three places set aside for those with special needs.

Those enrolled in the Nursery 2 and kindergarten classes will have one teacher to five children.