An Important Back to School Message from Inclusion BC

This past week, Inclusion BC released a message related to going back to school. We wanted to share it with you as we believe it sends a great message out to our community.

Inclusion BC noted that –

\”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.\”

Community Ventures Society fully supports Inclusion BC\’s message as we work towards more inclusive schools ultimately to a place where our education system is teaching to diversity.