LCQ10: Special education

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Kwok-hing and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (May 4):


     It has been learnt that in recent years, quite a number of parents of students with special educational needs ("SEN students") and concern groups have expressed concern and dissatisfaction about the lack of special schools in Islands District.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current numbers of the various types of special schools and the numbers of places provided by them, broken down by school nets;

(b) of the current numbers of the various types of SEN students; among them, whether it knows the total number of students living in Islands District (with a breakdown by areas, e.g. Cheung Chau, Lamma Island, Ping Chau, Tung Chung, Discovery Bay and Lantau Island);

(c) whether it knows the current number of SEN students living in Islands District who attend schools in other districts (broken down by areas of residence, together with a breakdown of the number of students in each area of residence by the areas in which their schools are situated); of the measures taken by the authorities to assist such students (especially in respect of the burden of travelling expenses and safety of students attending schools not in the districts of their residence), so as to relieve the pressure and worries of parents;

(d) of the reasons why the construction of the school for children with intellectual disability in Tung Chung, which was proposed by the authorities back in 2004, has not yet been completed; the current progress of the project and the anticipated commissioning date;

(e) whether it has planned to construct special schools in areas of Islands District other than Tung Chung to meet the local demand; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(f) whether it has planned to conduct a comprehensive review of the various policies relating to special education, including the integrated education approach, the school places allocation system, distribution of school places and schools, amount of subsidies and teaching facilities, etc., with a view to providing a better learning environment and equal learning opportunities to SEN students; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a), (b) and (c) The numbers of various types of special schools, places provided and students studying in them are set out at Annex 1.

     Apart from the four VI and HI schools at Annex 1 that admit students with the relevant special educational needs from all over the territory, for children with physical disability and children with intellectual disability, the Education Bureau (EDB) will arrange for them to study in special schools in the region to which their places of residence belong.  These schools are distributed as setting out at Annex 2.

     In the 2010/11 school year, there are a total of about 6 700 students in the various types of special schools at Annex 1, and 95 of them live in different areas of Islands District.  Their distribution and a breakdown of the number of students attending schools in other districts are set out at Annex 3.

     In general, students living in Islands District will be arranged to study in special schools on Hong Kong Island.  When going to school, they will normally travel to Central by ferry, and will be picked up by school buses provided by their schools at the pier.  Students living in Tung Chung will be referred to special schools in New Territories West A region.  School bus service is usually provided by their schools too.  There are also parents who choose to take their children to and from school by themselves.  For VI, PD, MoID or SID students assessed as having a need for school boarding service, the EDB will arrange boarding placement for them.   If parents have financial difficulties in meeting their children's travelling expenses, they may apply for allowances from relevant departments.  Some school sponsoring bodies also provide financial support for students in need.  Of the 13 students attending schools in other areas as shown in the above table, 11 are receiving boarding service at their schools.   

(d) The EDB recognises the need to build a special school in Tung Chung.  We have preliminarily selected a suitable site for this purpose, and are actively studying with the departments concerned the feasibility of the related land use.  We are also conducting technical studies.  Once the studies are completed, we will work out the detailed arrangements for the special school so that the school building project can be implemented as early as possible.

(e) Having regard to the numbers of students living in different areas of Islands District who need to attend various types of special schools, and the supply and demand of special school places across the territory, the EDB considers that at present there is no need to build special schools in other areas of Islands District.

(f) The EDB has been reviewing the implementation of special education from time to time.  For example, the EDB will plan for the building and/or reprovisioning of special schools or arrange for conversion works as necessary in the light of the projected change in the number of students, supply and demand of special school places in each district, as well as the physical facilities of special schools, etc.  In addition, the EDB keeps in close contact with the special schools.  Annually, it determines the number of classes to be operated in each special school according to demand, and reviews the student referral procedures, making improvements where necessary.  The EDB has introduced a number of improvement measures in recent years, including implementing the new senior secondary academic structure in special schools, increasing the ratio of graduate teachers in special schools, reducing the class size in MiID schools to 15 students per class progressively by grade level and implementing the improvement measure on extension of years of study in special schools, etc.

     As for the implementation of integrated education, the EDB set up a Task Force on Integrated Education in Mainstream Schools in 2005 to discuss, through regular meetings with the sector, other government departments, non-governmental organisations and parents, improvement measures that are practicable and relevant to the development of integrated education.  In recent years, the EDB has launched a number of improvement measures for integrated education, including the provision of Learning Support Grant for public sector primary and secondary schools, formulation of a Teacher Professional Development Framework, gradual extension of school-based educational psychology service, regularisation of trial measures that are proved to be effective, such as the Enhanced Speech Therapy Grant, and the development of resource schools and special schools cum resource centres, etc.  The EDB has also enhanced the professional support for ordinary schools, including developing assessment tools and resource kits and strengthening on-site support services, etc.

     We will continue to listen to the views of the sector and review the implementation of the measures with a view to improving the effectiveness of the support services.

Ends/Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:22