We are heading back to school, which can bring up many emotions. Each family has unique circumstances on whether you feel more calm, worried, or enthusiastic about this new school year. We honour where you are at, and in this post, we share some essential ideas about your child’s right to an education and some resources that we hope are helpful.
Whether your child is starting kindergarten, transitioning to middle school, high school or moving from one grade to the next, they have the fundamental right to education at every stage. Several documents explain this right; the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 28 talks about the right to education and Article 23 about the rights of children with disabilities. In the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 24 further explains the expectation of what inclusive education should be.
These conventions talk about the responsibility of each country to provide what is necessary to develop a child’s fullest potential and a sense of dignity and self-worth, to participate in society effectively, and to be given lifelong learning opportunities. Of course, these are broad concepts that need to be tailored to every child. However, you can use them as a guide when thinking about the goals for your child this coming year to ensure that the plans support these crucial aspects of their education.
British Columbia has the School Act and the Special Education Services Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. They are the provincial legal basis for every child’s right to equitable access to education. In the Canadian context, it is essential to remember the Moore decision (Moore v. British Columbia (Education)), which gives a vital direction on the right to education. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that students with disabilities are entitled to receive the accommodations they need to access and benefit from public education. A key part of this decision affirms that adequate special education is not a “dispensable luxury” but the “ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia.” These ramps will mean different things to each child. Using a child-centred approach, you could write a couple of ideas of the “ramps” your child needs for their education that you want to discuss with the school team.
You can find more information about Roles, Rights and Responsibilities within the School System in Chapter Three of the 6th edition of our Parent’s Handbook on Inclusive Education. We invite you to explore the rest of the chapters to find more helpful information to support your and your child’s journey through their educational years.
A new school year involves changes and usually includes meeting new people who will be working with your child. Therefore, the beginning of the year is an excellent time to prepare, or review and edit, a one-page profile about your child. There are various helpful resources out there to help you make a good summary of your child’s strengths, interests and what works best to support them.
- myBooklet BC is a free online resource created by a parent. You can create different versions for different teams to share what you need about your child
- Who Am I? is an online fillable pdf that you can complete, download, and print
Sometimes, the start of a school year can be an opportunity to bring up resources with the school team that explain ideas or approaches you would like them to consider. Here are a few:
- Inclusive Education Film Series – with ideas about positive pathways on self-determination, Indigeneity, reframing behaviours, and employment
- What is Inclusive Education? – a short article with ideas for reflection and discussion
- Reframe the Behaviour and My Inclusion ABC’s – visuals developed by educator Kristin Wiens
- Social Emotional Health from the B.C. Centre for Ability shares information and a video about promoting social and emotional health in school-aged children
One final thought for the start of this school year; Remember, you are not meant to do all this alone. There are people and organizations ready to journey by your side. If you need support, please reach out.
- If your child is excluded, we encourage you to fill in BCEdAccess’ Exclusion Tracker. They are collecting data to document experiences of exclusion in B.C.
- Family support– there are several peer networks you can connect with, like the Family Support Institute of BC, which is a provincial volunteer parent network
- Advocacy support– at Inclusion BC, we are here to help. You can connect with one of our Community Inclusion Advocates through our Advocacy Line by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1-844-488-4321.
If you found this information helpful, please consider sharing it with your networks.