Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia to Hire over 190 Specialists to Help with Classroom Inclusion

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia to Hire over 190 Specialists to Help with Classroom Inclusion

Article excerpt

N.S. to hire 190 specialists for complex classes

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HALIFAX - The upcoming school year will see the hiring of more than 190 specialized education professionals as Nova Scotia boosts resources for its increasingly complex classrooms.

Tuesday's announcement by Education Minister Zach Churchill is part of an initial $15 million effort for targeted areas including behavioural issues and autism.

Churchill said the new hirings will include a range of professionals to support teachers whom he says "can't do it alone."

"But this is the beginning of the story, it's not the end," he said. "We believe by changing the structure of the system as we have, we will have a greater ability to ensure these resources are applied consistently and in a way that will be most effective."

It was one of the key issues in the province's recent bitter dispute with the teachers' union, which said the inclusive-classrooms model adopted in 1997 left schools without enough staff to assist pupils with learning disabilities and other challenges.

The hirings include 40 child youth care practitioners and 60 education assistants; 70 specialist teachers with expertise in supporting children with behavioural challenges; 11 parent navigators to help families get programs and services; four student health nurses; and six school psychologists and speech language pathologists.

The department is also funding eight alternative education programs throughout the province and two programs to help students with complex needs to prepare for life after high school.

Teachers will also received specialized training to help deal with complex classrooms, and teacher and education assistants will also receive training in autism support.

Churchill said it's about addressing the most pressing needs first.

"Behavioural supports have been what people have identified as being lacking right now," he said. "That's created some of the greatest pressures and challenges for our classrooms, so I think the focus on behavioural and autism supports are a key."

The minister also said a tender would go out this spring for an independent third-party researcher to help assess the province's progress in addressing inclusive education. …

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