Well-known occupational therapist Mrs. Sarah Roe – who used to run the forerunner of Jockey Club Sarah Roe School (JCSRS) – passed away in in Mexico where she was undergoing treatment for cancer early this month.
Sarah was committed to working with English-speaking children with learning difficulties during her time in Hong Kong. She worked for the Matilda International Hospital and began running a small group in her apartment for children with special educational needs (SEN) in 1976. In the beginning, the group ran with equipment donated by her friends and the voluntary help offered by different specialists.
In 1978, with the help of a speech therapist and a SEN teacher, Sarah formally registered the group with six children enrolled. This small group became the antecedent of JCSRS.
In 1985, when ESF established its SEN provision, it decided to name it after Sarah Roe to recognise her past dedication to English-speaking children with SEN. The name of the Hong Kong Jockey Club was also incorporated because it provided funds for the building in which the school now operates. Since then, there has been no further financial assistance from the club. JCSRS has been funded and managed by ESF with some government subvention.
Since the official opening of JCSRS in 1986, the school has grown steadily and now has 70 students enrolled. It is the only SEN school in Hong Kong that uses English as the medium of instruction for students in the age range of five to 19 years with moderate and severe or complex learning disabilities and students with autism. If it was not because of Sarah’s contribution, even fewer children with SEN would have been able to receive an education in Hong Kong.