PS News

PS News presents reports on recent College activities and a selection of announcements, events and initiatives in the wider education community that may be of interest to our members.

Special Education consultation

Spotlight on Special Education

Sixty-four participants from across the province shared their expertise, knowledge and experience at the College’s October 21st consultation, Inquiring into the Professional Knowledge, Skills and Practices Related to Special Education Qualifications. Supervisory officers, principals, vice-principals, faculty advisers, Special Education consultants and classroom teachers were invited to provide input for the revision of the Special Education AQ course guidelines. Algonquin elder Skip Ross opened the gathering with a smudging ceremony.

Special Education has the highest enrolment of any of the 368 AQ courses available in both English and French in Ontario. From April to October 2010, 10,000 College members took Special Education AQ courses in English and 500 took them in French. It’s expected that a total of 20,000 teachers will take these courses by the end of this year.

Robert Caruso, OCT, is a Special Education teacher at St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School in the York Catholic DSB who participated in the consultation. “It’s a vital process to go through,” he says. “It gives teachers a voice in how courses are modified or changed to the meet the needs of students they serve.”

“What’s critical is the capacity to hear the many voices in an authentic way,” says another participant, Shirley Kendrick, OCT, Acting Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Support Services in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic DSB.

The consultation generated 20 written reports on discussions that covered topics like “How can we bring a critical (social justice) perspective to Special Education courses?” and “What recent legislation and Ministry publications affect professional practice in Special Education?”

The College has sent out feedback forms to seek input from district school boards, faculties, AQ providers, the Ministry of Education, community groups that support children with unique needs and other education partners.

The reports and feedback forms will inform the revision of the guidelines in 2011. “These courses support the ongoing professional learning of our members, enabling them to serve students who are often at the margins in our society,” says Déirdre Smith, OCT, manager of the College’s Standards of Practice and Education Unit. “This is self-regulation in action. The College membership will inform policy development on these guidelines.”

More than 60 participants shared their thoughts and ideas about Special Education at a consultation at the College October 21.