FREDERICTON (GNB) – All students in New Brunswick's public schools will benefit from enhanced educational opportunities and fewer barriers to learning as a result of the provincial government's new Inclusive Education policy.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jody Carr unveiled the comprehensive policy earlier this week. It is the first such policy in New Brunswick since the provincial government established a legislative mandate in 1986 to ensure the inclusion of all New Brunswick children in their schools.

"As a government, we remain committed to building an enhanced culture of innovation, equity and excellence within all schools and school districts to ensure the particular educational needs of every New Brunswick student are met," Carr said. "Our ground-breaking Inclusive Education policy will facilitate the full participation of all students, whatever their abilities or needs, in positive learning environments in all New Brunswick schools."

The policy is also designed to help teachers, parents and guardians.

"Teachers need to know what we want them to accomplish with our students, and they need support to meet those objectives," Carr said. "This policy establishes clear commitments to provide them with that support."

The policy demonstrates to parents and guardians the provincial government's commitment to ensuring equity and excellence in education for all young New Brunswickers, Carr said.

"Parents and guardians need to know we are committed to their children's education and to developing schools that can deal with the diverse nature of our student population in New Brunswick," Carr said. "This policy entrenches our commitment. It goes a long way to ensuring every child will reach his or her full academic and social potential at any public school in New Brunswick."

The basis of the policy is that every student is capable of learning. Its principles are that inclusive public education must be:

●    individualized, by focusing on students' particular strengths and needs;
●    universal, with curricula provided equitably to all students in a common learning environment shared among age-appropriate peers;
●    implemented by school personnel who are flexible and responsive to change;
●    offered in an environment where students and school personnel feel safe and valued; and
●    respectful of student and staff diversity with respect to race; religion; national origin; ancestry; place of origin; age; disability; marital status; real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or both; sex; social condition; and political belief or activity.  

The policy, which applies to all schools and districts within the public education system in New Brunswick, clearly establishes the requirements to ensure schools are inclusive. These include specific roles and responsibilities pertaining to school and district staff.

"The policy is the latest example of how our government is raising the bar in all we do to ensure all young New Brunswickers get a quality education at safe, healthy schools," Carr said. "This new measure will help all students optimize and capitalize on their strengths so they can go on to pursue post-secondary education, start a fulfilling career and contribute to a brighter future for a stronger New Brunswick."

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development developed the policy following extensive consultations with stakeholders and partners in both linguistic sectors. These included superintendents and district personnel; district education council chairs; the two teachers’ associations; the Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons; the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission; the New Brunswick child and youth advocate; parent and family groups; and community organizations such as Ability NB and the New Brunswick Association for Community Living.

In June 2012, the department launched an action plan in response to Strengthening Inclusion, Strengthening Schools, a report prepared by inclusive education experts Gordon Porter and Angèla Aucoin. The action plan commits a record investment of more than $62 million over three years to improve inclusion and intervention services to students and schools.