FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government announced today an action plan committing a record investment of more than $62 million over three years to improve inclusion and intervention services.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jody Carr released the action plan in response to Strengthening Inclusion, Strengthening Schools, a report prepared by two experts in inclusive education, Gordon L. Porter and Angela Aucoin. The report, received by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in December 2011, is intended to serve as a blueprint to improving inclusive education.

"Today is the beginning of a new era in inclusive education," Carr said. "Inclusion is based on values and beliefs that support each child while promoting social cohesion, belonging, active participation in learning, a complete school experience and positive interactions with peers and others in the school community. We are positioning our resources to support better every child in reaching his or her full potential in inclusive positive learning environments."

Inclusive education focuses on students as individuals, supporting their learning through pedagogical strategies, methods, accommodations and approaches that are effective and respectful and encourages high expectations and achievement.

"I thank Dr. Porter and Dr. Aucoin for their intensive review of our system and their comprehensive recommendations," said Carr. "After reviewing the report and extensive work undertaken by the department, the release of our Year 1 action plan will begin the work required to enhance further and strengthen our inclusive and diverse classrooms of the 21st century and ensure that our students and their families are fully supported.

“Our government is committed to improving the education system, and we will continue to work in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders to ensure we lay the right foundations to improve the quality of life for all New Brunswickers including our children.”

Highlights:

Year 1 (2012-13): $18.81 million to be invested

●    $2.5 million to make New Brunswick's inclusive public education system more responsive and effective.  
●    $250,000 to create a capital improvement accessibility fund that is expected to grow over time.
●    $250,000 to design and implement services to support inclusion within childcare centres by hiring facilitators who will improve the ability of these facilities to offer inclusive services.
●    $1.2 million to increase hours for education assistants.
●    $750,000 to create a new director of educational support services in each school district.
●    $12.46 million to create additional teaching positions for resource and methods, guidance counselling, behaviour interventionists and other teaching supports for inclusion for the start of the 2012-13 school year.  
●    $1.4 million to support the two Integrated Services Delivery demonstration sites and their evaluation.

Year 2 (2013-14) and Year 3 (2014-15): $43.26 million to be invested to support the action plan

●    $2.5 million in additional funding in each of the two years, totalling a cumulative $15 million, to support the continued implementation of the action plan.
●    $420,000 in new funding in 2013-14 and continued in 2014-15, totalling $840,000, to increase the number of early learning support workers by 50 to facilitate the participation of children with special needs while their parents are at work.
●    Funding to support inclusion within childcare centres will be increased to $300,000 in 2013-14 and continue in 2014-15, totalling an additional $600,000.
●    $24.92 million to maintain additional teaching positions to support inclusive education.
●    $4.4 million to create a new capital improvement accessibility fund, to establish directors of education support and to increase hours for educational assistants continuing in 2013-15.  

Other significant work will include:

●    Speech language pathologists, rehabilitation workers, social workers and other support services for Department of Education and Early Childhood Development personnel will be transferred to this department from the departments of Health and Social Development to support an integrated approach to inclusion services.
●    A new dispute resolution process will be created so that families experiencing difficulties with the school system can have their issues dealt with in a fair, equitable and timely manner.
●    Major revisions will be made to policies and guidelines to support the 2009 inclusive education definition and the recommendations in Strengthening Inclusion, Strengthening Schools.
●    Student Services teams at the school level will be restructured to be broader in scope and include all supports to students, including Literacy, Numeracy and Francization.
●    Amendments will be made to the certification requirements for new principals to ensure that they have mandatory training in leadership practices and strategies for inclusive education.
●    A minister's inclusive education working group will be created for each linguistic sector to support the implementation of the action plan.
●    A director of the office of First Nations position will be created to co-ordinate the vision and develop and implement education services in collaboration with First Nations partners.

LINK:

●    Strengthening Inclusion, Strengthening Schools