All education assistants, parent navigators, autism and behavioral support specialists, school psychologists, and speech language pathologists have now been hired to better support students in the classroom.
One remaining student health partnership nurse remains to be hired through the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
“We know the model of inclusion needs to change so that all our kids have the supports they need to help them succeed. We’ve started with on-the-ground resources that parents and teachers have told us are needed most urgently,” said Zach Churchill, Minister, Education and Early Childhood Development. “The new supports hired are over and above what already exist and this is just the beginning. We expect to add even more classroom help as we continue to reshape the inclusive education model.”
The classroom supports hired include:
- 100 additional Educational Assistants and Child and Youth Care Practitioners
- 70 new autism and behavioral specialists
- 11 parent navigators
- six school psychologists and speech language pathologists
- three student health partnership nurses
The province committed $15 million in funding for the 2018-19 school year toward increasing inclusive education supports. In addition to more human resources, eight alternative education programs were added throughout the province. They are designed to help students who learn best in a non-traditional setting.
Funding also included two, new Achieve programs at NSCC. Achieve programs help students with complex needs better transition to life after high school. As well, more than $3.5 million is allocated for additional teacher training, professional learning, workforce development and assistive technology to promote student participation and access to curriculum.
A key recommendation of the Commission for Inclusive Education was to develop an overall guiding policy on inclusive education, and a mechanism to track results. The province has partnered with Inclusive Education Canada and retained Gordon Porter, director of Inclusive Education Canada, to lead development of an inclusive education policy framework, including oversight and measurement.
“Policy drives action, action that supports students and their teachers,” said Mr. Porter. “I’m pleased to be part of a process to help develop a policy embedded with clarity and accountability to support the implementation of a new inclusive education model for Nova Scotia.”
The province has also opened 130 new pre-primary classrooms this year, bringing the total to more than 180 classrooms now open. This means about 2,800 four-year-olds and their families are taking part in free, early learning opportunities. By 2020, all communities will have access to pre-primary.
All current, pre-primary locations can be found at: http://novascotia.ca/preprimary .
A full list of inclusive education supports, and descriptions of those supports, can be found at: http://ednet.ns.ca/inclusiveeducation .