Support for students with special needs

If students with special needs can receive more of the support they need in school, that’s a win for everyone in the classroom.


Kids need access to educational assistants, behavioural counsellors, child and youth workers, psychologists, and speech and language pathologists to help them learn and thrive.

Meeting the needs of special education students is a constant challenge for any government. The Ministry of Education’s core grants for students with identified special needs are currently tied to enrolment — but as experts have written about, although student enrolment is decreasing, the number of students enrolling with identified special needs is increasing. We need the province to reflect that change and allow school boards to receive the funding that they need to adequately support our kids.

So many students with special needs are not formally identified until mid-to-late elementary school years, which means that they might be at a school with little to no resources to support them. That’s not okay! Leaving even one student out is one student too many.

Often, school boards are strapped for funds and are compelled to take the money that has been allocated to other program areas to support special education, which leaves every kid at a loss.

As recommended by the government’s Declining Enrolment Working Group in 2009, special education grants should be revised to better reflect the needs of special education students. The impact of this will be great, not only to the students who deserve education that works for them, but it will lead to a more supportive and inclusive community for all classrooms.

Educators  have been reporting an increase in incidents of violence on the part of students with psychological and behavioural issues. To address these and other issues related to students with special needs, classrooms require more access to educational assistants, behavioural counsellors, child and youth workers, psychologists, and speech and language pathologists.

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Recommendations
  • Base the special education grants on the educational needs of students.
  • Increase funding for educational assistants, behavioural counsellors, child and youth workers, psychologists, and speech and language pathologists.

Sources

Active Healthy Kids. (2010) Report Card 2010. http://www.activehealthy-kids.ca/ecms.ashx/2010Active-HealthyKidsCanadaReportCard-long-form.pdf.

Bascia, Nina. (2010) Reducing Class Size: What Do We Know? Canadian Education Association. Toronto.

Coishy, David. (2005) Canadian School Libraries and Teacher-Librarians: Results from the 2003/04 Information and Communications Technologies in Schools Survey. Statistics Canada. Ottawa.

Cummins, Jim. (2012) Teaching English Language Learners. Research for Teachers, No. 9. ETFO and OISE/University of Toronto.

Fairholm, Robert. (August, 2010) Early Learning and Care Impact Analysis. The Centre for Spacial Economics. Milton.

Hargreaves, Andy and Shirley, Dennis. (2009) The Fourth Way: The Inspiring Future for Educational Change. Corwin. Thousand Oaks, CA.

Leithwood, Kenneth, McAdie, Pat, Bascia Nina, and Rodrigue, Annie, eds. (2004) Teaching for Deep Understanding: Towards the Ontario Curriculum that We Need. Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and OISE/UT. Toronto.

Mackenzie, Hugh. (2009) No time for Complacency: Education Funding Reality Check. (2009) Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Ottawa.

OECD (2012), Lessons from PISA for Japan, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264118539-en

Ontario Ministry of Education. (March, 2009) Planning and Possibilities: The Report of the Declining Enrolment Working Group. Toronto.

People for Education. (2013) Mind the Gap: Inequality in Ontario Schools. Toronto

People for Education. (2012) Annual Report on Ontario’s Schools 2011. Toronto.

Queen’s University and People for Education. Klinger, D.A.; Lee, E.A.; Stephenson, G.; Deluca, C.; Luu, K (2009) “Exemplary School Libraries in Ontario.” Ontario Library Association. Toronto.

Queen’s University and People for Education. (2006) School Libraries and Student Achievement in Ontario. Ontario Library Association. Toronto.

Ravitch, Diane. (2010) The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education. Basic Books. New York.

Sahlberg, Pasi. (2011) Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? Teachers College Press. New York.

Schanzenback, D.W. (2014) Does Class Size Matter? National Education Policy Centre. Boulder CO.Retrieved February 19, 2014 from http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/does-class-size-matter.

Upitis, Rena and Smithrim, Katherine. (2002) Learning Through the Arts, National Assessment 1999-2003, Final Report Part I: Grade Student Achievement and Engagement. Kingston.

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