This September, Nova Scotia students will benefit from the hiring of more than 190 people, including child and youth care practitioners, parent navigators, education assistants, psychologists and speech-language pathologists, to address student and complex classroom needs, starting with a focus on behaviour and autism supports.
“We are 100 percent committed to taking the steps and making the investments needed to improve inclusive education for students and their families,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “Our students need more support to be successful and teachers can’t do it alone.”
Government provided an update today, May 8, on the Commission for Inclusive Education’s report, Students First.
“I am pleased by the prompt response to the commission’s report and by the infusion of significant additional supports for inclusive education,” said Dr. Sarah Shea, chair of the commission. “It will take time and further resources to fully realize all the goals laid out in the commission report’s blueprint for change, but this is an excellent start.
“The planned steps align well with the areas that were identified as priorities and provide more support for students, parents, and educators.”
The province is spending $15 million, including $5 million for complex classroom needs, to enable changes to take place for the upcoming school year.
By September, the province will have in place the following new resources and training supports:
— 100 student and classroom supports that include 40 child youth care practitioners and 60 education assistants.
— 70 specialist teachers with expertise in supporting children with behavioural challenges and complex needs. They include behaviour support teachers, learning and resource teachers and autism supports
— 11 parent navigators who will help families access available programs and services
— eight alternative education programs throughout the province
— six school psychologists and speech-language pathologists
— four student health partnership nurses who will help ensure care plans for students are appropriately implemented
— two achieve programs that will help students with complex needs better prepare for life after high school
“I am pleased that more funds will be allocated to increase resources and hoping the changes will happen quickly for the fall,” said Colleen Murphy, parent of a student requiring additional classroom supports. “My son needs a person in the classroom to explain the work, guide them through it one-on-one or within a small group. More support and training for teachers means my son and others like him can receive the support they need to thrive.”
Two-thirds of teachers surveyed by the commission said they felt insufficiently equipped to deal with increasingly complex classrooms. To help address those learning needs, teachers will receive specialized training, and teacher’s professional learning and development opportunities will be refocused to better support students’ diverse learning needs.
Teacher and education assistants will also receive training in autism support and, for the first time, parent navigators will be introduced to help connect parents to services and programs.
“Student success cannot be defined only as academic achievement,” said Natalie Hagarty, principal, St. Joseph A. McKay Elementary School. “We need to consider our students’ development and well-being. We are excited to hear of this needs-based approach to funding which will support an equitable and inclusive school experience for our diverse learners.”
For more details, ednet.ns.ca/inclusiveeducation .
The Commission for Inclusive Education’s full report can be found at, https://inclusiveedns.ca/