The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time, full of new promise and new challenges for students, families and educators.
Around our province, committed educational leaders are helping their schools and districts move towards ensuring that all students, including those with special needs, feel welcomed and valued as unique individuals, not just defined by their differences. BC’s new curriculum and new provincial investments to address chronic staffing gaps present an opportunity to reshape school culture, making schools more inclusive, with new teaching models that better support diverse learners and indeed all students. We will continue working to ensure BC’s educators are fully supported to achieve that promise.
Full access to education and inclusive learning with same-age peers is a right for every BC student, though it’s a right that has not always been honoured. During the 2017/18 school year, Inclusion BC heard from many families whose children with special needs were denied a full-day at school due to staffing shortages. This partly stemmed from challenges implementing the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision reinstating BC teachers’ 2001 contract. But Inclusion BC has clearly stated that selectively denying access to students with special needs for any reason is discriminatory and unacceptable.
In May 2018, we also published an updated report documenting shocking incidents of restraint and seclusion that continue to occur in schools. The Education Minister and BC Teachers Federation joined us in denouncing such practices and committed to working to eliminate them. We are recommending stricter policies and reporting requirements, along with more staff training on violence-free ways to support student behaviour.
Inclusion BC has also expanded our provincial advocacy team to help families of students with special needs resolve challenges, strengthen home/school partnerships and advocate when necessary for their child’s rights to access, support and inclusion.
We hope that this year will bring further progress towards building an inclusive public education system that better serves the needs of all BC students, and look forward to working with families, educators and the provincial government on these challenges, opportunities and common goals.
Municipal Elections 2018
This October 20, BC will elect new municipal officials, including school trustees, who are instrumental in setting school board policies and budgets that support access and inclusion rights for students with disabilities. This is an opportunity get more involved with your school board, to run as a candidate or to vote for school trustees with a strong commitment to inclusion.
Stay tuned, as we will be sharing more info on how you can help ensure that every student belongs and is valued in BC’s public schools.
Our Advocates are Here to Help
Inclusion BC’s advocates provide information, advice, referrals and advocacy. This includes helping families successfully navigate the education system when issues arise, and ensuring that they are informed of their rights and options. Our advocacy services are provided free of charge.
Contact our advocates:
(toll free) 1-844-488-4321
BC Educators Honoured for inclusive Teaching
Every year, Inclusion BC accepts nominations for the National Inclusive Education Awards, hosted in partnership with the Canadian Association for Community Living and Inclusive Education Canada. This year Inclusion BC also partnered with the Family Support Institute of BC to recognize six BC educators and teams who are working on the front lines to implement inclusive education.