School workers are set to strike. But exactly who are they, anyway?

The Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions, which represents over 5,400 school support workers, including bus drivers, cleaners, maintenance staff, educational program assistants, and early childhood educators, has announced that a strike may occur next week. Members are seeking a wage that keeps pace with inflation and provides adequate support as their sole source of income. Some of these employees make less than $30,000 annually.

In putting this article together, we quickly realized how many different jobs these 5,400 employees do. They’re involved with a huge amount of children. There’s a lot of these positions that we hadn’t heard of before, or even knew were involved in our kids’ everyday school activities. 

So we thought it would be helpful to talk about a few of the responsibilities that these folks have every day.

Educational Program Assistant (EPA)

EPAs work with students who have special needs, or behavioral needs, essentially our most vulnerable students. They work both in class and/or in the learning centres when necessary for the specific student. They work with students with a variety of needs, such as autism, ODD, ADHD, trauma, and those with violent behaviours, just to name a few. They may also assist with personal care, checking students with diabetes, tube feeding, etc. 

Lead Early Childhood Educator (Lead ECE)

This is the “head” Pre Primary Educator. They run the Pre Primary, delivering play based curriculum, which includes programming, shopping for groceries and supplies and supporting the other ECE workers that work with them.  They use a play based program to allow children to explore and grow in their learning by giving them opportunities to participate in activities that are based on their interest. They document and observe their interest and create ways for them to work on development domains while having fun. They provide the children with a space and environment that gives them the ability to build independence and build friendships with others.

Support Early Childhood Educator (Support ECE)

Assistant Pre Primary Educator. They take instruction from the Lead ECE and help run the programming for Pre Primary. 


They specialize in both grade level and academic literature and other materials. Providing an inclusive learning atmosphere. 

SchoolsPlus Community Outreach Worker (SPCOW)

These support workers work directly with families and get them help they may need, such as gift cards for groceries,  registering children for sports/recreational activities, setting up appointments for families, etc. 

Child and Youth Care Practitioner (CYCP)

They work with vulnerable students in school as well as all year long. During March and summer break, they plan camps for students in some of the local schools to keep them active and engaged. 

Indigenous Student Support Worker & African Nova Scotian Student Support Worker 

These support workers work with self-indentified students. They work with racialized children in both classrooms and in social settings within all communities.

Assistive Technology Support Worker (ATSW)

These support workers will add technology to students Chromebooks to help them with learning. For example, speech to text is a great asset for students who have learning disabilities. Also, they can add activities to technology for learning centre students who need more visual learning cues and prompts for daily school activities, as well as programs that “speak” for students. They work with students and enable them to find accessible routes to experience success in the classroom through technology supports. They also provide Professional Development for both teachers and support staff. 

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