Parents of children with special needs have welcomed a decision to give them a seat on the English Schools Foundation's proposed board of governors. Legislators told a bills committee meeting last Saturday they had agreed the new ordinance governing the ESF should be amended to include a parent representing children with special needs on the board. The ESF (Amendment) Bill will replace the 130-member foundation and executive committee with a board of governors. Esther Leung Wong Kee-loon, representing a group of parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) at King George V School, said about 10 per cent of ESF students had special needs. 'Their needs are very different from those of mainstream students and mainstream parents know very little about SEN students' needs,' she said. 'In order for the board of governors to consider the interests of all students and set up clear educational policies for all of them, it is important to include a SEN parent representative on the board.' Ms Leung said SEN students were a disadvantaged group and having a representative would ensure that their needs were not ignored. Under the original proposal, the board would have had 10 independent members, seven parents, four ESF staff representatives, three school council members and two legislators. The positions for legislators look likely to be removed under the proposed amendments. The board of governors is likely to be reduced to 25 members, with the parent representing those with children with special needs filling one of the legislators' positions. The ESF had previously opposed having a parent representing those with special needs on the board. Although legislators have agreed to the amendment, chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said SEN parents were not currently denied opportunities to express and communicate their views. She said the foundation had been concerned that having a parent representing the interests of one specific group of parents on the board of governors could prove 'divisive'. 'We remain to be convinced that it is helpful to have a parent on the board representing a particular interest, but we owe it to all our stakeholders to get this bill through so that we can move forward,' she said. The next bills committee meeting will be held on December 17.