Support Lacking for Special Needs Students, says New Report

Release Date 2014 09 10

A new report on inclusive education in Alberta finds an increased need for supports and services as schools become more inclusive of students with special needs and that the level of support has actually declined in Alberta since the government released the Setting the Direction Framework for inclusive education. It recommends that the government provide immediate, targeted, substantial and sustained funding for inclusive education.

The independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education in Alberta’s Schools has concluded that the mission and vision set out five years ago by the Alberta government has been inadequately implemented. The panel, established by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, conducted research into the state of education for students with special needs and released a final report today outlining key findings, including 38 recommendations for Alberta’s education stakeholders.

Countries all over the world are dealing with the same issues related to equity and inclusivity for students with special needs. Alberta has the opportunity right now to grasp this global issue and become a world leader on one of the most important educational issues of our time.

—Marc Arnal, Blue Ribbon Panel chair

Other key recommendations of the panel include more clear and consistent communications, more time and professional development for teachers, the conducting of regular research on inclusive education and the establishment of advisory committees at all levels (provincial, school board and school) to guide successful implementation.

Teachers have identified increasing complexity of classrooms and inadequate supports for students as the biggest issues they face. The Blue Ribbon panel’s work gives us, as stakeholders in education, a roadmap for working together to improve education for all students.

—Mark Ramsankar, ATA president

The eight-member panel was established in June, 2013 and includes a classroom teacher, a special needs teacher, a school-based administrator, a central office administrator and representatives from Alberta universities and the Alberta Teachers’ Association. Marc Arnal, former dean of Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta, served as chair of the panel.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 35,000 members.

Read the backgrounder of highlights from the blue ribbon report and the full text of the Report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education in Alberta Schools.

For more information, contact:

Laura Harris, Media Relations Officer