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Aoi Pui School – Path to Teach Students with ASD (Part 2)

Interviewee: Ronald Tin (APS Curriculum Leader)

1. What is your role in APS?

I am the Curriculum Leader for APS and it will be my 10th year in the APS family in this coming March. I am in charge of curriculum design and implementation. I am also responsible for student assessments and academic development.

2.How do you design and plan curriculums for your students? And what are the steps of establishing the plan? How are they tailored made?

The design and planning of the curriculum is quite a complex and intricate system. We took over one year to source and gather various curriculums available from different countries and organizations, and making sure we are choosing the right learning targets for our students. We finally decided to adapt our curriculum mainly from the National UK curriculum, but also took considerable alterations and compromises to suit the specific needs of students with ASD while considering the local Hong Kong context.

3.What are the differences between the curriculum of APS and the standard curriculum from Education Bureau (EDB)?

The curriculum here at APS provides a framework for students to develop holistically-to become well rounded individuals, be confident and ready to take up any challenge. Most mainstream curricula, including the one designed by the EDB, often neglect to take into account the needs of students with ASD or other learning needs, while only focusing on pure academics and examinations.

Here at APS, we not only teach academics but also social communications and rules, such as how to develop friendship and independence skills which are as important, but often ignored in the mainstream curriculum. We not only teach students how to do addition and subtraction, but also take them to the supermarket to utilize their math skills as monetary transaction for purchasing food, while also working on their community skills and communication skills.

On top of that, we will teach them to prepare a meal for themselves, and that, I believe, is why our curriculum excels in terms of catering to the various needs of students with ASD.

4.How does the curriculum improve the overall skills of the students in APS?

Our curriculum design and lesson planning take care of each student, taking into account of their strengths, weaknesses and most importantly their needs, and help him or her to improve in multiple aspects, in academics, independence skills or social interaction strategies.

5.How does the curriculum help bridging your students into mainstream school?

Many of our students are able to transfer to mainstream schools after learning with us. Our teachers often collaborate and communicate with the staff of mainstream schools to bridge connections. Our curriculum helps students to develop in various aspects, which means for some students, they could acquire learning skills needed to be able to integrate into mainstream schools. These students will learn how to become classroom-ready in mainstream school, and as importantly, playground-ready: be able to meet new friends and develop meaningful relationships and interact with peers.

6.Can you share the difficulties you have faced at work? How did you solve these problems?

Every day, there are different challenges but also opportunities for me to grow and learn. Being the sole person in APS responsible for curriculum and development, I find it necessary to be self-sufficient and manage my time efficiently between curriculum design, lesson planning, assessment and teacher support.

7. What are the expectations from the parents?

Our parents, like any other parents expect no less from their children. Our students have just as much potential; it is just the question of being able to ensure that they can develop to their full potential. I find that what do our parents want the most is for their children to become happy and independent explorers.

8.What do you/ APS expect from the parents?

We pride ourselves in having a close relationship with parents, and anyone who is closely connected with our students. We believe the best teaching not only happens at classrooms, but also outside school, where parents and care takers are also crucial teachers. We hope parents could take initiative to develop children’s greatest potential. That is why we also provide intensive trainings to parents, to enhance their teaching skills.

9.How do you collaborate with teachers to ensure the effectiveness of IEP?

Part of my job is to help relieve the tremendous workload of our teachers. When I was a lead teacher, there’s no curriculum leader in APS, every teacher needed to constantly plan and prepare their lessons, and took care of the routine work of the classroom. There were limited resources and references available. Now, I try my best to provide our teachers with these resources through the curriculum, lesson planning, and student development. We meet regularly to discuss, create, and assess the goals in the IEP. To make sure that students are on the right track, their progresses are evaluated periodically.

10.What is your future plan on designing curriculum for APS? Will you modify or add any new subject?

I am constantly modifying and improving the curriculum to make sure it is dynamic and reflects the changes of the society. We are going to design an effective sex education curriculum for APS. I’ve already conducted researches as my dissertation for my master’s degree at HKU was to investigate the difficulties and expectations of parents and teachers on sex education for people with ASD. Now, I am designing a curriculum that specifically meets those needs. Sex and relationship education is crucial to everyone and especially to SEN who often lacks appropriate knowledge which in turn puts themselves and others into unwanted situations. My goal is to help our students to understand these topics and grow into healthy teenagers who can make smart choices in sex and relationship matters.

Learn more about APS from the interview of Ms Abbie Chan (APS Senior Classroom Program Supervisor).

Info provided by Ronald Tin, APS Curriculum Leader
Autism Partnership Samantha Mak

To learn more about Aoi Pui School (APS):
Website: www.apschool.edu.hk/
FaceBook: aoipuischool

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