Special Education Needs (SEN) refer to the group of students who require alternative support in education. Common SEN issues include: Autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, specific learning difficulties (e.g. developmental dyslexia, specific language impairments), visual impairment, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, physical disability, emotional and/or behavioral difficulties, mental disorders, and gifted education (香港特別行政區政府教育局, 2017). Students with special education needs often experience difficulties in learning, communication and social aspects. Thus, they need to be supported in these aspects according to their situations.
The Hong Kong government provides two paths for children who are assessed to have SEN. First, there are over 50 special schools that provide special learning and teaching environment for children with serious SEN. Second, children with less serious SEN can enter the mainstream schools and study together with other children (as known as inclusive education), while the Education Bureau (EDB) supports schools to provide additional services for the SEN students (香港特別行政區政府教育局, 2014). The concept of “Inclusive education” was promoted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in June 1994, during the World Conference on Special Needs Education at Salamanca, Spain. UNESCO encouraged the world to build an inclusive education environment, and make the development of special education as center of their education plan. In 1997, the Hong Kone government started to promote inclusive education, in which EDB provides financial support and resources to schools based on the level of SEN of the students; thus the schools would provide suitable service and follow-up on students with SEN in aspects of learning, communication, social skills (香港特別行政區, 2019).