At HCDSB, we believe that each student is a unique gift from God and as such has the right to an education which will foster spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and social growth. We believe that students with special needs (exceptionalities) should be given the opportunities and support necessary to reach their full potential. We have adopted an inclusion policy because we believe every effort should be made to provide programs and services to support students with exceptionalities in the regular classroom setting. 

All decisions are grounded in the following five foundational assumptions: 

  • All students can learn 
  • Teachers have the greatest influence over student learning 
  • We can all be more than what we currently are 
  • Support and professional development are required to be so
  • This is best accomplished in partnership with parents

What are “special needs” (exceptionalities) in education? 

Children with special needs require teaching interventions that differ from the average population in order to learn, to optimally develop skills, and to reach their full potential. Many types of special needs exist, and in education these are referred to as “exceptionalities”. An “exceptional” student is a student who has significant, behavioural, communication, intellectual (including gifted), physical, or multiple needs such that he or she is considered to need a special education program. 

What is a Special Education Program? 

A special education program is defined in the Education Act as an educational program that is based on and modified by the results of continuous assessment and evaluation and includes a plan (called an Individual Education Plan or IEP) containing specific objectives and an outline of special education services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil.

How are exceptionalities recognized (identified)? 

Schools refer to the formal recognition of exceptionalities as “Identification”. You may know that your child has special needs before entering school. You are asked to tell the school so procedures can be started to support and “identify” your child. Sometimes teachers are the ones who recognize or suspect that your child might have special needs. In these cases, specialized assessments may be offered after consulting with you. Sometimes exceptionalities will become apparent later in schooling. Regardless of when or how your child’s special needs are recognized, you should discuss your child’s needs and identification procedures with the school.

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