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Special Needs Schools in Hong Kong

specila needs

Schools in Hong Kong for children with special needs are somewhat limited – especially for expatriates. The lack of school places and support for expatriate children with Special Needs, especially for those over 16, has been described as ‘diabolical’ by parents. In the local system, SEN support includes early assessment and a guaranteed funded place in a mainstream or special needs school.

International Schools in Hong Kong for children with Special Needs

For expatriate children, the ESF continues to be the main provider of primary and secondary support for a wide range of special needs. Students whose special educational needs require more extensive teaching and learning adjustments are catered for within learning support classes within six ESF primary schools (Beacon Hill, Kowloon Junior, Bradbury, The Peak, Quarry Bay and Clearwater Bay schools) and three ESF secondary schools (KGV, South Island and West Island). There are currently 133 LSC places in total, 56 of which are secondary places. There are no learning support classes at Kindergarten level. The learning support classes have a teacher student ratio of 1:7 and students can participation within mainstream classes where appropriate. Entry to this type of special education provision is through a central process called the Admissions and Review Panel.  

Students whose special educational needs require the most extensive teaching and learning adjustments are catered for within the Jockey Club Sarah Roe School. The school is a modern purpose built special school situated adjacent to the campuses of KGV and Kowloon Junior in Homantin. The school has 60 places for students aged 5 – 18. It has an enrolment of sixty and a teacher student ratio of 1:7. Similar to the learning support classes entry is through the Admissions and Review Panel (ARP).

Some international schools in Hong Kong offer classes for children with minor learning disabilities and others offer more specialized individual and small group classes. However, the waitlists are long and the admission process is extremely selective and many parents fight for spaces each year. The schools that offer support are as follows: 

Australian International School 

Chinese International School

Discovery Bay International School

The Harbour School

Hong Lok Yuen International School 

International College Hong Kong

International Montessori School

Sear Rogers

Kellett Primary and Secondary School


Special Needs Education Centres for Adults

The Nesbitt Centre provides an English- speaking educational programme for adults with learning disabilities. The centre was set up in 1993 by David Nesbitt. He discovered that there was no English-speaking service for adults with intellectual disabilities in Hong Kong.
Mr. Nesbitt obtained a grant from the Queen Elizabeth Foundation for the Mentally Handicapped to set up an initial service. In June 1993, he obtained support and a commitment to ongoing funding from the Social Welfare Department. Since then, the service has evolved into the Hong Kong Vocational Centre, (HKVC) and now The Nesbitt Centre (TNC) a full-time organisation committed to the provision of integrated and person- centered opportunities for adults with learning disabilities.

The centre enables adults with special needs the opportunity to maximize their life potential. Individuals are guided, supported and encouraged to:

  • take responsibility in the planning and management of their life activities,
  • participate in a wide range of work, life, recreation and creative skill building programmes, and
  • achieve confidence and independence through supported work and residency opportunities

As a parent of a child with special needs, you know what is important when finding a school. Not all schools provide special needs services and some schools do not have trained special education teachers on staff who can engage in specialized instruction. If you are moving to Hong Kong, it is important to check ahead of time whether the school you choose is adequately adapted. Do not assume that all schools are fully prepared for the needs of your child. If moving to Hong Kong, replicating the services your child has at home may not be possible, however, considering all available resources may shed light on a treatment, therapy or approach that may turn out to be the most valuable aspect of your school search.

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