Anyone in HK with (UK) SEN child?

(13 Posts)
atonofwashing Tue 03-Feb-15 20:13:09

I know there have been a few (very informative) threads on relocating to hk recently, but none really mentioning kids who have SEN and are in school there.

Dh's work maybe sending us back. We lived there 12 years ago.

Ds is 8 and has mild epilepsy. Seizures, thankfully controlled with excellent meds. His local state primary applied for an SEN when he was in reception and so he's had an assistant since year 1. Plus speech therapy, which he doesn't really need, but we are certainly not turning it down. Having read the the ESF website, he would no longer fall into the category of having Sen.

My questions are, how does sen work in hk? I have read not to mention Sen unless required without question. What happens if we get there and find ds does need a helper? Is that included in ESF prices? Are there some schools better than others for this? Are there TAs aplenty?

It's all very well not mentioning Sen, but we don't want to find ourselves burdened with more school fees than we bargained for! Plus I cannot imagine his primary not wanting to forward his files.

I have heard of top schools and we plan to make contact, but if anyone In hk has experience of this, your advice would be much appreciated.


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AggressiveBunting Wed 04-Feb-15 07:47:10

Hi there. I don't have a child with SEN but I'll try to give you a bit of advice from what I know of the school system. It would also be worth asking on the HK Moms FB page as there are parents with children with SEN on there and I think there's even a spin off FB group to provide advice around those issues.

Firstly, it is challenging to get a school place for children with SEN so you're right to want to get it sorted up front - your school options are basically all private, and none are particularly inclusive- many are academically selective at a v young age.

That said, I'd probably disagree with the advice you've been given re. not disclosing SEN. You cant hide it - they will ask for a signed disclosure and require school reports from current school- all schools require you to provide details of any interventions/ special support etc. received to date and currently. They also all have the caveat that failure to disclose could lead to the school place being withdrawn- i.e. your DS would be asked to leave if he can't cope in a non-supported setting.

ESF has one of the better support networks for children with mild SEN in their schools (they have supported mainstream, learning units and also have the Sarah Roe school for children with severe intellectual disabilities). There are SEN EA's in the mainstream schools. However, as I understand it, if your child needs 1 to 1 FT support in the mainstream setting, you have to pay that assistant yourself (there is a child in my son's school to whom that applies- he has ASD). ESF primary classes usually have 1 teacher and 1 EA to 30 children which is a bad ratio compared to most private schools in HK.

My advice would be to call the ESF school in your expected catchment (or try Quarry Bay as they have the best reputation for SEN accommodation)and see what they say. The other issue may just be place availability because those schools are very oversubscribed.

The other possibility might be the Harbour School- I know little about them but they have v. small classes and are apparently receptive to taking children with SEN.

HTH (a bit)

Laptopwieldingharpy Wed 04-Feb-15 09:36:11

thorough post from aggressive bunting!

Yes try ESF and be very open with them. Am not aware of shadow TAs as such but they do have pull out support.
But its a class size of 30 and a sometimes crowded and usually busy atmosphere. Suits my youngest's brash temper perfectly well. My quiet focused eldest with very mild sensory issues wouldn't have had a chance to blossom I think. He turned out to be a high achiever in a small nurturing environment.

Aggressive did not specifically mention Kellet which is a UK curriculum school. I know very little about it other than it looks very proper and very friendly. Not overly academic. A well rounded child will do just as well in an ESF school for half the fees (and huge debenture). Worth thinking about though if your company holds a debenture.

You need to look further than a strictly UK curriculum. Up to year 6, I think you'd be OK with another curriculum well delivered in a school that suits your child's temper and values his individuality.

You may want to look at US programs which are subject centered or IB schools or hybrids that incorporate a bit of both and some UK too.

The harbour school is a mixed curriculum and simply a fantastic school. Most people's issue is that they do not have the facilities to match the price tag. That said what you pay for is an open policy supporting "differenciation" wether SEN or G&T.
I can not speak highly enough of the great professionalism, empathy & creativity of the faculty. We only pulled out our son because he is very athletic and we thought upon entering middle school that we should move him to a school with a strong sports mentoring program. That said they are due a new site to build a big school in the next year or so and have lots of local communal facilties for sports & clubs. class sizes are max 15 with teacher & full time TA.

I would not even touch GSIS (german-swiss) & CDNIS (canadian) They are very selective, have a reputation (deserved or not in primary) of being very academic. They are just churning square minds with high levels of academic extra tuition (expected even of the brightest & most diligent) and extra curriculars that look good in college applications. Just my opinion though. But I guarantee you will be met with a highbrow and they are just not worth the heartache.

The French school (IB - smallish & extremely oversubscribed in the international stream) might be an option. I know for sure that they do have some SEN support in the french stream. The french teachers outsource the simplest things like poor pencil grip in a leftie. They have in-house OTs but not sure they work with the english speaking kids. Worth enquiring. The International stream is known to be more supportive and friendly in general. Happy well achieving kids. lots of them move on to UK boarding schools around year 8. Its oversubscribed but the the same story everywhere so just call them and get in line.

The American school HKIS is purely US curriculum. It is subject based and delivers a relatively solid literacy & numeracy program not too different from the early years key stages. It openly declares that it uses assesment tests but in our experience they do it very sensibly with regular student led conferences to reflect and re-align learning and personal growth objectives. Its a very inclusive & supportive community to all regardless of SEN support which they also offer. There is a Lutheran church right in the middle which much deter some. We are a definite minority population in the school and that has never been an issue. If anything we find them very attentive to everyone's identity.

You will find lots of talk about IB schools being the TOP tier . Its a trend. Lots of people actually shy away from IB middle school programs as they are still touch and go. As it is the current fad, most schools now encourage lateral & holistic thinking cross subjects anyway.

IMS is a montessori school with strong mandarin ( maybe pointless if you are only here for a few years). Great reviews from parents. A majority of long term expats and mixed marriages/locals.

Hong Kong academy is well loved by all families I know there. But it seems a bit like a cult to me grin very little information transpires. I was not very impressed when we visited. They have since moved to a truly beautiful campus. Out of Hong Kong island in Sai kung. You'd have to live there.

End of ramble.

atonofwashing Wed 04-Feb-15 10:13:18

Aggressive and bunting, thanks so much for your input. That's really helpful.

The harbour school does look ideal. We will try esf, I do fear that a full class of 30 kids may be too much, but his current school had a full class til abt year 2, then quite a few left. Ds coped, but was very easily distracted.

I am open to any curriculum, but he does need a more structured environment.

Dh is a rugby coach at the weekends with our sons club and I am a qualified swimming instructor. Would that be looked upon as favourable, to add to parent involvement? Wouldn't get us any further up a waiting list, I would imagine, but surely a positive? Maybe?

I would hate to shelve what could be a wonderful family adventure. Would be a completely different experience from our last life in HK!

It all comes down to the package my dh can get from work.

My main worry is that his statement in the uk will see him right thru to the end of senior school, in the state system. But of course, it can be a crutch too heavily leant upon! They are really pushing him to work independently. We all know he can do it and he is growing up.

Thank u!

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atonofwashing Wed 04-Feb-15 10:47:18

Sorry, thank u too, laptop.

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Laptopwieldingharpy Wed 04-Feb-15 10:57:59

No worries.

Honestly don't discount kellet and hkis if you have access to a dbenture and/or the budget.
For hkis there is a 3h entrance test. Not overly difficult but 3h of stillness and concentration ( writte. Part) and interraction with teacher/counsellor and a small group of kids ( 6-8 per session).
Not sure for Kellet

Rugby is huge here. Maybe a plus for Kellet and possibly to het a sports membership at a club on the strenght of that?
You could be making a tidy amount too as a swimmîg instructor if you are willing to go to your clients.

atonofwashing Wed 04-Feb-15 11:39:20

Thanks, laptop.
Mmmm. not sure he'd comply for 3 hours! Will give top schools another call. We left a message a few days ago, but no reply as yet. Am guessing they don't need to chase enquiries!

I did suggest including a work visa for me in the package, as the thought of being stuck in a flat til school pick up, would drive me nuts. Happy to live anywhere, if we can get the school sorted out. Quite fancied sai Kung/ cwb for a bit more space. But if we need to be on the island so be it. Lived in happy valley last time. Club membership a must. Couldn't survive without.
Can easily see dh happily coaching in hk.

The offer may not be enough to tempt dh back over, but let's see how we go.

Thanks again.

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AggressiveBunting Wed 04-Feb-15 12:06:52

You don't need a work visa for HK- can work on a dependent's visagrin. So that's one bit of good news

atonofwashing Wed 04-Feb-15 12:16:11

Thanks, aggressive, that's put a smile back on my face! ��
Will run that by Dh. He'll be delighted!��

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Laptopwieldingharpy Wed 04-Feb-15 12:38:23

Yes! Its a relief! Comparatively ( and completely off topic) singapore would be more difficult to consider due to poor SEN provision and almost impossible to work on a dependant visa

atonofwashing Wed 04-Feb-15 12:56:10

Thankful we are not going to Singapore. No office there, and from my point of view, The climate would mean bad hair all year round.
If we do go back to hk, my first port of call will be to The Firm hair salon to tame frizzy tresses! I assume they are still there, they were around online...

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AggressiveBunting Wed 04-Feb-15 13:23:46

Kellett is non-selective. They essentially go down the waiting list and read school reports to assess suitability. Class sizes are smaller (20-22). It's a good all round school that caters for a range of abilities but is in no way a hothouse and it has good pastoral care and encourages a range of interests. It's a through school to 18 now. You can pay capital contribution instead of a debenture (HK$100,000).

However, the waiting lists can be long (albeit shorter the further up the school you go). They have 2 campuses - 1 on the island, 1 in Kowloon bay.

I'm afraid I know nothing of their SEN provision but definitely worth asking them.

Re rugby and swim involvement, I'm really not sure. School sport at junior level is not amazing because the clubs do so much and most kids who are sporty play through those. They have many volunteer coaches due to the access to 7s tickets, but if your DH is actually good, they'll probably snap him up- doesn't really help with the school thing though!

atonofwashing Wed 04-Feb-15 17:39:23

Gosh, it all sounds a bit brutal. Good to see pastoral care is on a list though.
Looks like we have lots more research to do.
I am swinging between lets just stick with what we know and stay in London and let's go for it, I am fed up with this cold weather, etc...
I am not too fussed abt the sevens, been there, done that. But I totally get the point.
Thanks so much for the advice, you have both been enourmously helpful.

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