Ms He Ting Ru asked the Minister for Education (a) whether the learning points and additional resources available to River Valley High School in the last year since the tragedy will be made available to other schools where necessary; and (b) what learning points or additional processes will be incorporated into the wider school and education system to provide better support and safe environments for other school communities.
Mr Chan Chun Sing: Over the past year, River Valley High School (RVHS) has become an even more closely-knit caring community, with strong support from its teacher and staff, Parent-Teacher Association and stakeholders. The school leaders and teachers actively engage students identified with learning and social-emotional needs while looking out for those who may need additional support. The school’s peer support structure has become stronger, with students looking out for their peers’ well-being and supporting them. The school also has more counsellors who conduct regular mental well-being talks for students. Students and staff have designed and transformed spaces in the campus, as well as school events and programmes, to create a warm and inviting environment.
All these measures have had a positive impact on RVHS students and staff. Where applicable, MOE will share these good practices with other schools.
Next, let me update Parliament on MOE’s efforts for mental health announced in my Ministerial Statement last year.
Since July 2021, the Ministry has stepped up efforts to recruit more School Counsellors and identify suitable teachers for further training in counselling skills to serve as Teacher Counsellors who work alongside the School Counsellors.
MOE has also strengthened teachers’ professional development in mental health literacy. Teachers are trained to recognise symptoms related to common mental health issues and are equipped with strategies to de-escalate students’ strong emotions and impulsive behaviour. Through Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) lessons, teachers also facilitate classroom conversations on mental health which provide students with opportunities to voice their concerns. To enable teachers to check in on their students, schools have dedicated time at the start of every term. Among our students, peer support structures have been implemented in all schools to enable them to look out for one another.
Through these measures, we have observed more help-seeking by our students, whether for self and peers.
The well-being of our teaching staff is also of paramount importance to MOE. We monitor the sentiments and morale of our teachers closely and will continue to strengthen the culture of care in our schools. Staff Well-Being Committees have been further resourced with additional funding and materials to enhance school-based staff well-being efforts. Most of our schools have at least one Wellness Ambassador, a peer whom a teacher can approach for support, other than their school leaders and reporting officers. Our teachers also have access to a suite of well-being resources and workshops. In addition to MOE’s in-house counselling services, teachers have free access to the 24/7 Whole-of-Government Counselling Hotline.
MOE regularly reviews and updates our security measures. Schools continue to practice emergency drills, such as fire and lockdown drills, at least twice a year with their students. Lockdown drills are aligned to the Run-Hide-Tell principles, in response to a security threat.
MOE is committed to ensuring the well-being and safety of our students and teachers. We will continue to refine our efforts, in collaboration with relevant partners.
Ministry of Education
1 August 2022