Special needs coordinators make difference

Local | Sophie Hui 11 Oct 2017

The decision to equip schools with a coordinator to address the plight of students with special needs has not only boosted enrollment in one of the schools involved, but has also allowed such students to make noticeable progress.

Under a pilot scheme launched two years ago, schools that admitted students with special needs were given additional funds to appoint a Special Educational Needs Coordinator, or SENCO.

One such school that joined the scheme in 2015 was the GCCITKD Cheong Wong Wai Primary School in Tai Wai. Principal Ricky Leung Wai- kay said special needs students now make up about 15 percent of total enrollment.

He said that under the SENCO scheme, teachers and parents are getting a better understanding of how to deal with children who are autistic, have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or are dyslexic.

One of the special coordinators is Chan Hiu-ngai, who has been teaching in the school for six years. She said SENCO played an important role in arousing the interests of students with special needs.

To encourage these students and to meet their individual needs, Chan needed to cooperate with other teachers and communicate with parents and parties like NGOs.

Every class in the school now has special needs students, and teachers are given special worksheets to meet the different levels of intelligence, such as picture cards for visual learning.

Chan said she is lucky to have the support of other teachers and staff.

"I think having a SENCO helps parents understand that when they have problems, they can find someone who understands," she said. "When teachers have problems, they will come and find me, and I'll arrange different things for them."

Leung said that with more manpower, the school can now meet the special needs of students. "We can see some examples of how some of these students have improved, such as their behavior, social skills and even academic performance," he said.

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