Special Education: Overview
As an equal opportunity society, Hong Kong provides special education services for children with special educational needs (SEN), such as visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability, intellectual disability, etc. Students with severe SEN or multiple disabilities are referred to special schools for intensive support services subject to the assessment and recommendation of specialists and parents’ consent. Other students with SEN are placed in ordinary schools. At present, there are 61 aided special schools in Hong Kong.
For the list of special schools, visit:
Children aged six or above with SEN enjoy free and universal basic education. With effect from the 2009/10 school year, special schools for children with hearing impairment, physical disability, intellectual disability, visual impairment cum intellectual disability and schools for social development offer senior secondary classes under the New Senior Secondary (NSS) Academic Structure. All classes in aided special primary or secondary schools are free starting from the 2008/09 school year. Fee remission is in place for residential students who cannot afford the boarding fee.
Assessment and Support Services
The Education Bureau provides school-based support services for children suspected of having SEN. The Bureau runs two Special Education Services Centres located in Kowloon Tong and Kwai Chung. The Special Education Resource Centre in Kowloon Tong Education Services Centre provides multi-media facilities, school-based teaching and learning packages for downloading, softwares and cliparts for the production of teaching materials and aids by teachers, updated journals, magazines and books on special education etc.
The Bureau offers support services which include educational audiological services for children with hearing impairment, school-based speech therapy services for students with speech and language impairments, educational psychology service for students with learning, emotional and/or behavioural difficulties, educational placement and advice and professional support to parents and teachers on how to manage children with disabilities.
For details about special education services, visit:
Education Bureau’s Role
In addition to planning and developing all special education facilities, the Bureau also advises on organisation, curricula, teaching methods and educational placement. Relevant officers of the Bureau provide professional advice in their specialist fields to public-sector ordinary schools and special schools, non-governmental organisations and other government departments. The Bureau also implements a territory-wide early identification and intervention programme for at primary one students in public sector schools every year. The aim is for teachers to identify children with learning difficulties or speech and language problems, and to render to provide timely support. Various professional training for teachers and support measures are in place to help special schools or ordinary schools to support students with SEN. For details about professional support and other supports, visit:
Class Size and Teacher-student Ratio
The class sizes in special schools are relatively lower, ranging from 8 to 15 per class, depending on the types of children served and the staffing ratio is 1.7 teachers per primary and junior secondary class and 1.9 or 2.0 teachers per senior secondary class. Starting from the 2017/18 school year, the current teacher-to-class ratio for public sector primary and secondary schools (including special schools) will be increased by 0.1 across the board to provide additional teaching staff for schools to take forward various education initiatives and enhance the quality of education. Also, there are various types of additional teachers and specialists provided in these schools to cater for children’s different SEN.
The curriculum for these children is based on the ordinary school curriculum and aligns with the implementation of inclusive education. The NSS curriculum has been implemented in special schools from the 2009/10 school year. Related curriculum development work is executed by the Curriculum Development Institute. The Committee on Special Educational Needs under the Curriculum Development Council is responsible for formulating policy and overseeing curriculum development for children with SEN.