For the first half of the meeting, the discussion was centred around what could be done to raise awareness of learning needs across Ho Chi Minh City. In Vietnam today, there are still many who have not heard of common learning difficulties - such as Dyslexia or the Autism Spectrum - let alone understand the many strengths and challenges faces by those with learning needs. Therefore, this part of the conversation was focused on how to raise awareness within our schools (in terms of events), the involvement of stakeholders (including parents and charity organisations) and what such awareness-raising might require logistically. Our goal in the near future would be to establish an annual awareness event that is part of the calendar in schools across the city. This would bring awareness and understanding of those students who have learning needs across the city, eliminating stereotypes and preconceptions in the process.
The second half of the meeting was dedicated to advocacy: in particular, setting standards on professionals that our schools work with. This would include Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and others. As the city develops, we have an increasing number of professionals offering SEN-related services in Ho Chi Minh City. And, as in any profession, some are better (and better qualified) than others. Because these are professionals that could have a significant impact on the support for learning that occurs in schools, it is vitally important for us to have high expectations relating to the professionals that we work with - particularly if these are individuals that we will be referring to parents. So, as a group of SEN professionals with our combined decades of experience, we agreed on standards ranging from professional qualifications to safeguarding concerns, to quality of assessment, and to the professionalism and ethics of the specialists we work with. In the end, our hope is that all professionals that work with our students only have the highest quality of assessment and support possible.