The Ministry of Education and Surrey Schools is deeply committed to the philosophy of inclusive education for our students with diverse abilities and disabilities. Inclusion is a term that supports the belief that all students are entitled to equitable access to learning, achievement and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of their education.
Surrey Schools design learning environments where students with diverse abilities and disabilities are fully participating members of our learning communities. All of our 7215 students with special needs require personalized supports that include in part, case management and an individual education plan (IEP) that is collaboratively developed. The IEP outlines any specialized support requirements and unique educational programming needs.
The District’s inclusive education programming is a hallmark example of Learning by Design applied to the individual learner’s needs in addition to the needs of all students, both inside and outside the classroom, and in the community. Our commitment to equity and inclusion means that students with diverse abilities or disabilities have full and equal access to all educational programming and school activities. Though we face challenges in achieving this vision in full, including securing the necessary resources over the long term, the District’s efforts in recent years have led to transformative outcomes. For example, students with Autism Spectrum Disorder often face various challenges that impact the learning environment. Through evidence-based training and intervention using innovative tools and learning structures, we have data that demonstrates that students who face considerable behaviour and learning challenges have increased their achievement and their attachment to their schools. Another example of the district’s use of evidence-based intervention using innovative tools and learning structures relates to the efforts to fully include students who are blind, Deaf, or Deafblind in their learning environments. Specifically, the district provides these students with access to accessible languages including American Sign Language, braille, and deafblind intervenors. The district also provides access to Deaf Language Acquisition Support Workers and Deaf Education Assistants, to support natural language acquisition, develop cultural identity, and provide access to adult role models, in children who are d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing. These are a few examples of many, that demonstrate our movement toward our vision of inclusion.
Our 7,761 students with diverse abilities and disabilities are each unique. They come to us with wide-ranging needs, abilities, strengths and hopes for their future. This being the case, reporting achievement publicly on students with diverse abilities and disabilities as a cohort can be misleading.