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Policies and Procedures at Singapore Sports School to protect the safety and wellbeing of students

Response to parliamentary question on whether the Singapore Sports School will review its policies and procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its students.

Oral PQ 5309. Assoc Prof Razwana Begum Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth whether the Ministry is considering reviewing policies and procedures in place at the Singapore Sports School (SSP) to confirm that (i) SSP has all necessary policies and procedures to protect the safety and wellbeing of all students (ii) all staff employed by SSP have received comprehensive training on existing policies and procedures and (iii) SSP has mechanisms in place to successfully detect and respond to all breaches of policy or procedure.

  1. Mr Speaker, allow me to first recount the facts briefly of what happened to Pranav Madhaik, a young aspiring national athlete from the Singapore Sports School, or SSP.
  2. On 5 Oct 2023, around 1826hrs, Pranav completed a routine 400m fitness time-trial. Time-trials and conditioning sessions are a regular part of a badminton student-athlete’s training. 
  3. Pranav had reported to his coach that he felt unwell after the run. The coach then told him to rest. On previous occasions, Pranav had reported being unwell but had recovered after resting. 
  4. Pranav rested at the side of the start and end point of the run while the coach attended to administering details of the time-trial. The coach subsequently left the area to brief other student-athletes on competition matters and thereafter dismissed the student-athletes. The coach left the school premises after the briefing, without further checking on Pranav.
  5. While Pranav was resting, he interacted with two other groups of student-athletes who walked by. A few of them approached him and, according to their accounts, did not notice anything unusual with Pranav at that time. The last group interacted with Pranav at around 1835hrs. 
  6. At around 1840hrs, another coach who was walking by noticed Pranav and approached him. Pranav requested for some cold water, and the coach asked a student-athlete to get it for Pranav. Subsequently, after the coach assessed that Pranav appeared to be in some difficulty, he activated the School’s Boarding staff to assist at 1845hrs.
  7. An ambulance was called at about 1850hrs. It arrived at about 1902hrs and conveyed Pranav to the National University Hospital at about 1919hrs. Pranav was warded and given intensive medical care. Unfortunately, he passed away on 11 Oct 2023. The cause of death, according to the death certificate, was cardiac arrest with antecedent cause of malformation of coronary vessels.
  8. Throughout Pranav’s hospitalisation, the School continued to provide support for Pranav and his family. School and MOE counsellors, CARE1 officers and school staff also provided emotional support to student-athletes and staff who were emotionally affected.
  9. Following detailed investigations into the incident, the School issued the badminton coach a letter of dismissal on 14 Oct. This was for his failure to comply with the School’s safety protocol by not accounting for all student-athletes, and checking on their well-being, before dismissing them from training.

    Student Safety is School’s Top Priority

  10. MCCY and the Singapore Sports School extend our deepest condolences to the family of Pranav Madhaik. Pranav’s unfortunate passing, the loss of a young life with so much potential, has been a sad occasion, and a deep shock to all of us.
  11. The safety and well-being of student-athletes in the Singapore Sports School are paramount matters for the School. All members of the School community – management, staff, coaches, student-athletes themselves, and their parents – play a crucial role in ensuring our student-athletes study and train in a safe environment. 
  12. Recognising this, the School has in place comprehensive policies and procedures to protect the safety and well-being of all student-athletes.

    Safety Policies and Procedures

  13. The School develops a set of comprehensive policies and procedures, based on the MOE School Safety Handbook. This covers various scenarios that might arise, including student safety, medical emergencies and return to training protocols after injuries or sickness. As with all MOE schools, SSP is subject to an External Safety Validation (ESV), which includes checks on safety protocols, processes, equipment, personnel, training, risks assessment and management, simulation exercises and reviews. Such external review and validation has helped SSP take a systematic approach in regularly assessing and enhancing their safety protocols. The school had just undergone an external safety validation in February this year. 
  14. In addition, to ensure a culture of compliance with all safety procedures and protocols, the school management conducts checks and collects feedback from student-athletes and parents annually and as appropriate. There is also a whistle-blowing policy for staff to report wrongful practices involving SSP employees. Members of public can also report any breach of safety policy or procedure by emailing the school directly. All instances of breaches of SSP’s code of conduct are investigated, based on a set framework.

    Strengthening Culture of Safety

  15. SSP also equips the school community with the relevant training to ensure student safety.
    • All SSP coaches, General Managers and boarding staff are first aid certified, with training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of the automated external defibrillator (AED). They are also trained in psychological first aid. SSP coaches are also registered with the National Registry of Coaches (NROC), in addition to their specific technical coaching certification.
    • All student-athletes and staff undergo annual refresher training on emergency preparedness. This includes training on the protocol for the scenario when an individual collapses. There are sufficient AEDs in the school for emergency use. An on-site physiotherapist from the National Youth Sports Institute can also assist to manage and treat injuries and recovery.
    • In Pranav's case, he did not collapse after the run and his symptoms only became more obvious over time. As Pranav was conscious, breathing and had a pulse, the use of an AED was not required.
    • All sports staff are inducted to the above sports safety SOPs. This includes reviewing the Risk Assessment Management System (RAMS) in their area of work at the beginning of each year.
    • At the start of each year, all student-athletes are also briefed on sports safety. Coaches also brief student-athletes on safety precautions before the commencement of any new activity.

    Review Following Pranav’s Passing

  16. Notwithstanding the above, following this unfortunate incident, SSP is working together with MCCY on a thorough review of the school’s safety policies and protocols, to identify areas for further improvement.  An expert panel is being formed to assist SSP in the review.
  17. The review will seek to further strengthen the school’s safety policies and protocols, including pre-admission screening, communication, implementation and supervision of safety protocols and any other areas recommended by the panel.
  18. SSP aims to complete the review by the end of the year but will also progressively implement any improvements when ready. 
  19. MCCY and SSP take this matter seriously. We are strongly committed to the safety of our student-athletes, as we continue to support them in achieving their sporting and academic aspirations. We will also continue to provide the fullest support to the family of Pranav, in their time of grief.

1. CARE officers are teachers who are trained to provide psychological support during and after a crisis.

Last updated on 15 November 2023