More resources needed for inclusive education: teachers' association

The president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says the province's current inclusive education system needs more resources.

George Daley says the union has long supported inclusion, but continues to have concerns about the updated policy enacted about four years ago.

"Under this current policy, it seems to have been interpreted that the goal is to have all students in the same classroom as much as possible," said Daley.

"We've been questioning that we really need to have professionals in there to determine what students can handle."

Many students perform extremely well in inclusive classrooms, but it's not the same for everyone, he said.

Officials should look at the needs of each student and try to match the system with their individual needs, said Daley.

"We need to be able to put the best situation in place for every student and have the resources and the assistance to make sure things are working properly," he said.

In order for that to happen, said Daley, there needs to more resources in schools to support teachers and all students.

The province said in April that it would add 250 school-based teachers to support classroom teachers and work with students, particularly in classrooms with composition challenges.

But Daley said some of those positions are being used to backfill jobs that were cut to support the province's integrated service delivery model.

The program sees members from various government departments work together to help children and youth with emotional, behavioural, mental health or addiction needs.

"To make the child and youth teams work in this province, schools would cut resource teachers and cut guidance councillors ... so actual services in the classrooms, in some districts, we haven't seen an increase because of those backfilling and because of the funding for child and youth teams," he said.

Daley said the model is a solid step forward in attempting to offer wrap-around services for students, but it needs to be properly staffed and funded.

The province seems committed to working with the association, he said, but they are still waiting to see what things will look like going forward.