Spearheading an inclusive approach to special needs

South China Morning Post

25th December 2018

Spearheading an inclusive approach to special needs

For educators, social workers or those who want to provide much-needed education and counselling support to tens of thousands of pupils with special education needs (SEN), there is a range of professional education courses available at universities and education institutions.

According to the Audit Commission, there were 42,890 students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) studying in the 844 local mainstream schools in the 2016/2017 academic year.

There were 330 out of 844 publicly funded mainstream primary and secondary schools receiving regular educational psychology services provided by the Education Bureau. Among these, 27 received fewer than the required 18 visits a year, with one school receiving just 10. Another 484 schools received services from school-sponsoring bodies, but 11 of these schools received fewer than the required 14 visits, with one school receiving just four.

Dr Sarah Luk, from the department of educational psychology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), says the figures spoke volumes of the training needs of current students, special education needs co-ordinators, school guidance teachers and school social workers in SEN counselling and intervention strategies on the individual, group, school and family levels.

Luk is the key teacher of the special needs stream of the master of arts degree programme in school guidance and counselling (MASGC), which provides specialised training for teachers, social workers, youth workers and those in the helping professions.

The two-year part-time programme covers counselling theories, counselling skills for diverse settings such as schools, social service agencies, agencies and tertiary institutions, as well as practicum where students gain supervised field experience. It also covers educational research methodology.

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