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SNN Shares: Individualized Education Program (IEP) in Hong Kong: A Panel Discussion

8 September 2020, 7pm, Webinar

September has not only seen schools returned online for the new term but has also been the month SNNHK hosted its very first webinar – SNN Shares: Individualized Education Program (IEP) in Hong Kong: A Panel Discussion.

What is an IEP? How should parents get involved? Our panel of speakers, who are all SEN professionals from public and international schools, discussed various topics about the IEP, looking to help parents better understand the process and schools’ different approaches, as well as how they can collaborate with the school to make the best use of an IEP in supporting their child’s learning and development. We were thrilled to have Nicole Aschenbrenner from Hong Kong Academy, Principal Franky Poon from HKRSS Tai Po Secondary School, Julie Tait from Kennedy School and Samantha Wilson from Anfield School in conversation with fellow parent Trisha Tran and host Kim Anderson, our former SNNHK Chairperson and Founder.

We learned that an IEP may not look the same in different school settings. Panelists spoke about what an IEP entails in their schools, different approaches to classroom support for students with SEN, as well as how additional services, including therapies and medical support, can be integrated into an IEP. The examples of what IEPs actually look like were very useful, and the “child-friendly” format was especially interesting, with its focus on engaging the child in their own learning outcomes. Our speakers outlined ways for parents to prepare themselves for the initial IEP meeting, and how to be actively involved in feedback and evaluation in order to strengthen the home-school partnership all the way through the IEP process.

The sharing at the end of the discussion in a virtual Q&A format completed the webinar, touching on some highly relevant topics: the online experience may not be as challenging as expected this term, as schools and families have gradually established ways to coordinate online, allowing for implementation and review of IEPs through online platforms and, in some cases, digitalization of the IEP for a more interactive approach. This provides working parents in particular with a real benefit in being able to access and share data, and visualize a child’s achievement.

As a parent of a 5-year-old child with special needs I learned a few ideas on how parents can play a part in building mutual trust and collaboration with the school in the IEP process. The four ‘Rs’ are very concise and worth sharing here:

- Realistic: know where your child is, not just what they could achieve.

- Relevant: identify the most relevant thing for your child at this moment in life.

- Respectful: tell the team at school the needs of your child, rather than telling them what to do.

- Resilient: it is okay to not know the answers and solutions – join forces with the school to find out.

SNNHK is thankful for the good turnout and the positive live feedback from participants in our first webinar. We hope you all finished the call feeling connected and better informed, and we look forward to seeing you at our next webinar on 10 October – Pathway to Primary Education: From Assessment to School for Children with Special Needs in Hong Kong. Find out more here.