Exploring the Emerging Identities of Special Needs Officers in Singapore Primary and Secondary Schools

Project Number
OER 05/08 SL

Project Duration
April 2009 - February 2011


In line with Singapore’s vision of becoming an inclusive society (“Singapore 21” report published in 1999), Special Needs Officers (SNOs) were introduced to Singapore primary and secondary schools in 2005 to support children with learning disabilities so they can learn alongside their non-disabled peers in the mainstream schools. With three cohorts of SNOs already in some schools, this proposed research aims to contribute to newly emerging discourse(s) and literature on inclusive models of educational practice, the efficacy of such a national provision and the appropriate preparation of SNOs to support the diverse abilities and needs of pupils in schools. The proposed study will build on preliminary research on SNOs to be designed as a one-and-a-half-year (Mar 2009 – Jun 2010) qualitative study of two groups of newly qualified SNOs (from Phase 3 graduands in May 2008 and Phase 4 graduands in May 2009), examining their role in schools along with their evolving identities (i.e. from being a diploma student undergoing training in special needs education, to being a beginning SNO). A second group of more experienced SNOs from Phases 1 and 2 will also be included in the sample to provide data that will be juxtaposed against the data generated from the newer Phase 3 and 4 group of SNOs. Data sources will include reflective assignments completed during the SNOs’ preparation in the Diploma in Special Education programme at the NIE, subsequent semi-structured individual interviews in schools. If permission is granted by the SNOs to access their group space in Facebook (i.e. the online social network), their blogs and discussions will also be a data source. Generated data will be analysed using Gee’s work on overlapping identities (e.g. institutional identity, nature identity, discourse identity) as a lens for educational research (2000), building on international literature on the identities and experiences of para-educators in different inclusive models of education practice.

Research Themes
Children at Risk (Disability/Disorder)

Funding Source

Related Links
NIE Research Brief Series 11-003: Exploring the Emerging Identities of Special Needs Officers in Singapore Primary and Secondary Schools

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