SNN Shares: Pathway to Primary Education: From assessment to school for children with special needs
10 October 2020, 10am, Webinar
Starting primary school marks a pivotal milestone: a new foundational phase of learning for our children and their future development. Hence, the choice of the best and most fitting school is of utmost importance. However, navigating the process of graduating from preschool to primary school, and from the services of the Social Welfare Department in Hong Kong to those of the Education Bureau may be challenging, confusing, and overwhelming, especially for parents of children with special educational needs. We need to find schools that foster growth and development conducive to our children, but also meeting their individualized needs. SNNHK believes that with adequate information, parents are significantly better prepared to help their children with special needs make a smoother transition from preschool to school education, and they can be empowered to find the best schooling options for their child.
On 10 October, SNNHK hosted the second online event in our Special Needs Navigator series called Pathway to Primary Education: From assessment to school for children with special needs in Hong Kong. The event aimed to provide useful and relevant information for parents of children with special needs on the process for assessments, selecting schools, and admissions in the Hong Kong education system. The webinar introduced assessments and educational support for children, as well as a general overview on the choices among public and non-public schools, and options for non-Chinese speaking children. Two highly experienced speakers in the area of educational assessment and primary school placement guided parents through the topics.
Our first session was presented by Mr. Neo Ngan, an Educational Psychologist from the Heep Hong Society. Mr. Ngan gave a comprehensive overview of the school entry process for the public and non-public sectors, as well as entrance for non-local children to schools in Hong Kong. His thorough presentation covered the admission procedures, schooling stage, screening, referrals, and placement for each category of school. The workings of the government Child Assessment Centre (CAC) were explained extensively for parents to understand, including common diagnoses, assessment tools, and alternative services for assessment. Mr. Ngan also discussed service options in schools and the curriculum of special schools. He stated the importance of determining the dominant language of the child, and to consider having the assessment conducted in that language so as not to disadvantage the child, and he recommended that parents take notes regarding their child’s behavior and progress in various settings, and provide these notes to the assessor.
Our second presentation was by Ms. Stella Wong, Executive Director of Watchdog Early Education Centre. A list of international schools and English-medium local schools with SEN support was provided, and Ms. Wong addressed the primary school options for non-Chinese speaking children with special needs, as well as the local primary school options. She went on to outline the main SEN support and provisions offered by each school. She also provided examples of her own Watchdog graduates who have attended certain schools, and gave parental feedback. Careful explanation was made of the Primary One Allocation (POA) System and the timeframes that parents should be aware of to register an application for a local school. Ms. Wong introduced several new schools that have opened up or will open soon for children with special needs, and informed parents of local schools that provide greater support for non-Chinese speaking students. Psychoeducational assessment services were further discussed, specifically pertaining to the requirements of international schools. Helpful tips were provided to parents regarding how to equip their child for assessment and starting primary school.
After each speaker’s session, a Q&A session was conducted and participants were able to ask relevant questions pertaining to issues such as CAC assessment language differences, assessment costs, specific school SEN support, and requirements for different schools.
SNNHK is extremely appreciative of Mr. Ngan and Ms. Wong’s well-organized and detailed presentations, and we found the information shared immensely valuable for parents entering this stage of transition. We hope that the sharing of their expertise was beneficial and empowering for all the event participants, and we look forward to a future opportunity to continue with the SNNHK Special Needs Navigator series.