Support for students with special needs

Inclusive education describes an education system that meets the learning needs of all students, including those with diverse or special learning needs, in the same classroom. In 2009, the government of Alberta published the Setting the Direction Framework and subsequently accepted the recommendations from the report. In 2012, a new funding model was introduced in Alberta to support an inclusive model of providing supports for students with special needs.

But a report from the ATA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education in Alberta found that there was an increased need for supports and services and that the vision espoused by Setting the Direction had been inadequately implemented. The report identified 38 recommendations in the areas of leadership, governance, funding and interdepartmental/interagency coordination that stakeholders should implement in order to improve inclusive education in Alberta.

For the inclusion of all students with diverse learning needs in the same learning environment to be successful, students must have timely access to appropriate supports and resources.

Some students require additional professional and para-professional support including learning coaches, educational assistants, behavioural counsellors, psychologists and speech and language pathologists.

School boards need adequate funding to ensure resources are available without drawing funding from general education funding sources.

How will candidates in this election work to ensure that the supports and services required by Alberta’s diverse learners and students with special needs are available?