NAC Artist-SPED School Partnership Programme Customises Arts-Based Curriculum for Students with Different Disabilities

 

New initiative enables teaching artists and school teachers to co-develop and co-teach an arts curriculum that meets larger educational outcomes

 

Singapore, 16 October 2013 – Students in special education (SPED) schools can look forward to a more integrated arts education experience with the NAC Artist-SPED School Partnership Programme. The initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC) promotes the use of the arts as a pedagogical tool in SPED schools to enhance students’ learning.

 

This unique proposition for the arts to be embedded as an integral and integrated part of SPED school education offers new ways of learning for students with learning disabilities.

 

The two-year time frame for each partnership project allows arts-based lessons to be meaningfully developed as part of the SPED school’s core curriculum. Teaching artists are matched with the school to jointly develop programmes aligned to the school’s larger educational needs and provide artist-led teacher training to ensure sustainability of the programmes.

 

Tapping on artists’ expertise and experiences to offer alternative learning perspectives for students in SPED schools, arts lessons such as drama, ceramics and percussion have been specially developed to educate every child. Through fun and engaging art-making activities, students develop confidence, motivation and competencies for life such as communication, socialisation and dexterity.

 

Mr Kenneth Kwok, Director for Youth and Arts, NAC says, “The NAC believes that every child, without exception, should have access to quality arts education because of the important role it plays in personal development. The partnership programme helps to provide SPED schools with the extra support to customise arts programmes that will meet the specific needs of their children. It has been very heartening to see the happy faces of the students in the classroom and how they have blossomed through these highly interactive arts lessons in diverse ways.”

 

Another key aspect of the Partnership Programme is the training of teachers by the teaching artists. Equipping teachers with the principles and practices of art-making not only enables them to continue the co-developed programmes independently, it also enhances how they teach other lessons.

 

The NAC Artist-SPED School Partnership Programme has been piloted since February 2012 in five SPED schools - AWWA School, Lighthouse School, MINDS Lee Kong Chian Gardens School, MINDS Towner Gardens School and St Andrew’s Autism School. Through the Partnership Programme grant, each school can receive a grant of up to 90% of the training and teaching fees of the teaching artist. (Refer to Annexes A and B for information on each school’s Partnership Programmes and details of the Partnership Programme framework)

 

One school in this programme is the MINDS Lee Kong Chian Gardens School which conducts ceramics classes for students as part of its arts curriculum. The school partnered ceramic artist, Mdm Tan Lee Meng, to teach students basic pottery skills such as pinching, slab building and coiling with the specific goal of helping them to improve their motor and sensory skills. Students were also given the opportunity to present their works which further boosted their confidence.

 

Mdm Sharon Ng, Principal of MINDS Lee Kong Chian Gardens School says, “Through this programme, our students can enjoy the sensory experience of creating delightful items, and improve their fine motor skills and attention. The art lessons are also authentic platforms for students to practise their values and social skills. We were impressed when we saw a student removing clay stain on the back of another student without being asked.”

 

Besides the NAC Artist-SPED School Partnership Programme, NAC supports SPED schools with a variety of initiatives to increase students’ access to quality arts education. The support schemes include the NAC Arts Education Programme and Tote Board Arts Grant, Artist-in-School Scheme, Arts & Culture Presentation Grant, and the Working and Facilitating the Learning of Children with Special Needs in the Arts course offered by Social Service Institute (SSI), which is targeted at arts instructors. (Refer to Annex C for details of each scheme)