Students with intensive needs continue to grow in Catholic School Division

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The Prince Albert Catholic School Division board of education met for the first time in the 2023-2024 school year on Monday at the Education Centre.

The number of students who need Intensive Support and Inclusion and Intervention Programs (IIP) in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division continues to grow.

Each year in December the Ministry of Education requires school divisions to submit the number of students that need IIPs. Director of education Lorel Trumier presented the data to the board of education on behalf of Superintendent Charity Dmytruk at their regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 4.

The data shows 245 current students—roughly eight per cent of the student population—are enrolled in Inclusion and Intervention Plans this school year. That’s up from 230 students (eight per cent of student body) last year, and 156 students (five per cent of student body) when the reporting began in 2017-18.

“There’s an increased need and again, with enrolment growing and programs growing, there is going to be a continued need,” Trumier said. “We’re always advocating for more financial support from our Ministry for supports, for learning and you can understand why.”

In 2019-20, the division began offering the Early Learning Intensive Support (ELIS) program to get children who may have been reluctant to come to school engaged in education at an earlier date. Every ELIS student takes part in an IIP program.

Trumier said the number of those students has increased as enrollment has grown, and the division is well aware of the extra need.

“We have done some programming to also support families in this way, and I think that what it means is our staff are working very diligently and conscientiously to support students with needs,” she said.

“We do have an increased need, our enrolments grown, our programs have grown and that certainly is some of the reasons why we see the increase.”

Trumier added that students with intensive needs are well supported by student support services teachers, classroom teachers and school based administration play a key role.

“The parents and guardians are involved. There is a significant amount of a time to work and collaborate on these pieces, and when you think of what a classroom teacher and a student supports teacher, their first priority is to teach,” she said.

Trumier said that these teachers spend many extra hours before and after school and over lunch hours developing the program plans for students.

“We have been very well served by our teachers, our student support services teachers and the families in this community. We have got really good relationship there, so we are pretty proud of the work that our teams are doing and our schools are doing,” Trumier said.

The Ministry of Education collaborates with other ministries to collect prevalence rates of students with specific diagnoses. The information is then used to develop programs, approaches and supports to meet the needs of students currently enrolled in schools and to support their smooth transition as they leave school and enter the community.

This information is also part of the data used to determine each school division’s Supports for Learning funding.

The school division declined the Daily Herald’s request for an interview with Dmytruk.