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Frequently Asked Questions

The team at Learning Support Services (LSS) will sit down prior to the beginning of each year and look at the list of students who have specific special needs designations. Collaboration takes place around how much support each student needs and will be balanced with the Teaching Assistant budget given to LSS. During the course of the year, it may be determined that a school has need of additional TA support due to new students or the increased need of current students. At that point, the school administrator will work with LSS to acquire more support. It is important to note that TA support is given to schools, and the administrator is responsible to divide the support among the students who most need the help. 

General Learning Support Services Helping Teachers provide direct support to schools, classroom teachers, Learning Assistance teachers, Resource Room teachers, Teaching Assistants and Principals. They help with student programing, Individual Education Plans, Teaching Assistant assignments, staff development, referrals to outside agencies, School Based Teams, Care team meetings, adapted and modified programs, functional curriculum, computer software, specialized equipment, safety plans, student designations, and student transitions.

Autism Support Helping Teacher provides specific support to all team members who are working with students on the Autism Spectrum. Referrals come through the General LSS Helping teachers, and cases requiring intensive support will be coordinated by the Autism Support Helping teacher.

Transition Support Helping Teacher plays an integral role in supporting each student, school and family within the quest for achieving the goal of school completion. This teacher collaborates with schools, students, and families to find most appropriate placement or program, ensures that transition to new placement is smooth, and acts as an on-going liaison as needed.

Vision Support Helping Teachers offer itinerant support to students in their home school or designated academic settings. They help to develop appropriate IEPs and transition plans as part of the School Based team, provide specialized teaching in reading and writing, assist in the acquisition of specialized material and equipment, consult with parents and school teams, provide academic support where appropriate and liaise with other agencies to provide support (e.g. CNIB, Provincial Resource Programs, Sunnyhill Hospital, etc.).

Hearing Support Helping Teachers provide services to deaf and hard of hearing students throughout the district. They accomplish this through direct instruction, assessment of auditory functioning, speech, language development and academic achievement, providing counseling to students in hearing loss, auditory management, and hearing aid use, provide consultation, workshops and inservices to classroom teachers, teaching assistants, parents and other professionals, and act as a liaison between the school, home, and other agencies for students with hearing loss.

School Psychologists provide services to particular needs of each child within specific situations, and are not limited to working with only students who have special needs. Their services are arranged around consultation/collaboration, assessment, intervention, and providing inservices and presentations to school staff and parent groups.

Elementary Social Development teams (including Counselors and Youth Care Workers) serve three main functions. They provide ongoing emotional, social and behavioural support for identified students, participate with the School Based Teams and integrated care teams, liaise with district and community agencies, and meet and work with parents and families of identified students to offer either direct support or referral to community agencies.

Learning and Assessment Centres are established in multiple Elementary schools to provide intensive, academic instruction, diagnostic assessment, collaborative and consultative services with home schools, provide reintegration support, and to provide student and parent with a homework program.

District Speech-Language Pathologists provide support for students with a broad range of communication difficulties.  Students who are involved in the speech-language pathology program may have communication difficulties in the areas of language development, social language, articulation, fluency, and voice.  At the Kindergarten to Grade 5 level, support is provided on an itinerant basis, and ranges from direct to indirect services.  Service may include assessment, individual or group therapy, participation on School-Based Teams/Learning Services Teams, and consultation with teachers, parents, school personnel, and outside agencies, where appropriate.  At the Middle and Secondary School levels, service is limited to consultation.

District classes (Resource rooms, Social development rooms, Community Access Program) have been set up to accommodate students with specific developmental disabilities, and/or intensive behavior. Students screened into these programs have been referred by school personnel and must meet specific screening criteria. Community Access Program is established specifically for students with moderate cognitive ability who are mobile, independent in personal care, and have completed a minimum of 12 years in the school system.

Hospital Homebound Teachers provide instruction for elementary, middle, and secondary students who are unable to attend school because of extended physical, or in some cases, psychological illness. In consultation with the classroom teacher, instruction is provided in regular subject areas at the student’s home or at another pre-arranged location.

Gifted Program Support is offered to students who have met the criteria for a gifted student as established by the Ministry of Education. The district believes that a program for gifted students must include differentiated curricula and learning strategies that have been developed for gifted and creative students. The program for gifted students is operated as an integrated part of the total school program, but this does not preclude groups from being formed and withdrawn from regular classes for particular activities and purposes.

Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Services are contracted and provided in our district by the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre. The therapists collaborate with educators, families, and other service providers to support students who fall into Ministry funding categories. They offer consultation and assessment, teach specific skills, and suggest adaptations to equipment and/or to the environment that will help meet the needs of children with complex challenges in an educational setting.

Transportation Services - Bussing for Special Education Students may be provided for students who have been assigned to district programs out of their catchment area or to students within catchment who are unable to walk to school because of physical or cognitive disabilities


If you are concerned about your child having some type of special needs, you should consult with your doctor or pediatrician. Apart from that, consultation should happen with your child’s teacher in order to understand how that child is functioning in the school setting. If there are specific concerns, the student’s name will be brought up at a School Based Team meeting and specific recommendations will come out of that meeting. Different school personnel may become involved (e.g. Helping Teachers, School Psychologist, etc.) in doing observations and recommending a variety of assessment tools to determine whether or not there are specific special needs. Upon the completion of these steps, a Helping Teacher or School Psychologist may recommend ministry designation.

A psycho-educational assessment is a multi-faceted assessment of children and youth according to current best practices to determine categories for students who possibly qualify for learning support services. Psycho-educational assessments serve diagnostic and planning purposes for students with special needs such as learning disabilities or mild and moderate cognitive impairments. These assessments assist teachers and parents to better understand the nature of the learner’s exceptionality, such as contributing developmental factors, learning style, and future educational, social, emotional, and career implications. The information is to be used for planning, goal setting, behavioural, and academic interventions and strategies.

A school psychologist will perform the assessment. School psychologists have specialized training in both psychology and education, and they will team with educators, parents, and other professionals to ensure that all children learn in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.

In order to have an assessment done, an initial consultation will occur between the school psychologist and the School Based team, ensuring the appropriateness of the assessment. If deemed appropriate, the school will prepare a referral package and have a referral form signed by the parent/guardian. The referral package is sent to the psychologist who will then coordinate the assessment, write the report and debrief the results with the parent and child’s care team.

The district will try to move students along with their age/peer group as much as possible. Research indicates very few benefits to retaining a student and repeating a grade. Instead, interventions will be planned through the School Based team in order to ensure that proper educational goals are established to see the student realize some success. At times adaptations and differentiated instruction will be implemented, along with the necessary support. However, each case needs to be reviewed individually and will begin with a conversation with the school administrator.

Every fall, Elementary Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) review each school’s case load from the previous year, along with newly identified students (e.g. Kindergarten students and new students to the district). If you feel that your child needs the services of a SLP, please talk to your classroom teacher for some feedback related to the school experience. If need is determined, your child’s name will be forwarded to the School Based team, who will then fill in the referral forms for SLP services. Selection of direct therapy is based on the student needs and the priorities of each school. The SLP department uses the Consultation/Assessment/Meeting schedule where time is allotted every four weeks for continued assessments. District services are focused on early intervention and service to Middle and Secondary students is limited to consultation.

Your first step is to communicate with the Kindergarten teacher. Please make an appointment with the teacher to discuss your concerns and brainstorm any interventions you wish to consider. Your teacher may also garner further support through discussing your child’s issues with the School Based team, requesting assistance from district helping teachers, or speaking with other appropriate school district personnel (e.g. Itinerant Counselor, School Psychologist, etc.). If you feel that you are not receiving the support you need, your next step would be to set up a meeting with the school administrator to discuss further steps you think are worth pursuing.

A student is considered gifted when he/she possesses demonstrated or potential abilities that give evidence of exceptionally high capability with respect to intellect, creativity, or the skill associated with specific disciplines. Students who are gifted often demonstrate outstanding abilities in more than one area. They may demonstrate extraordinary intensity of focus in their particular areas of talent or interest. The district has a set of guidelines for identification, assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation and reporting of students who are considered gifted. The district’s philosophy is to operate the program for gifted students as an integrated part of the total school program, and usually accomplishes this through differentiated curricula and learning strategies. Talk to your administrator about the process if you feel this is a distinct possibility for your child.

The district has developed a policy on acceleration, a term that encompasses a range of strategies enabling a highly capable student to work at an intellectual and academic level beyond the normal grad-level work. Acceleration options may be suitable for students who are identified as gifted and/or demonstrate exceptional ability in specific subject areas. Some of these options include completing two grades in one year (sometimes referred to as “telescoping”), continuous progress (moving through at an self-selected pace), subject-matter or partial acceleration (in one or more subject areas), grade skipping (ahead of chronological-age peers), Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs (secondary level), concurrent studies (taking college or university level course while completing secondary school), and course challenge (awarded course credits based on previous knowledge and/or experience). 

Grade skipping elicits a variety of reactions among educators, parents, and students. All decisions about this are the responsibility of the school. Research indicates both the potential benefits for some gifted and high ability students, as well as the concerns about the socio-emotional effects of grade skipping. A process for decision making has been given to each school administrator, who will be able to proceed through consultation with parents and the School Based team.

Administration of medication at school should occur only where no other options are available and only when the school has received full information about the medication. The principal (or designate) will be responsible for the administration of medication to the student. If your child needs medication administered in the school, please ask for a Request for Administration of Medication at School form from your principal. There will be a section to be completed by the prescribing physician and by you as the parent or legal guardian. The person administering the medication at school will carefully document the date, dosage given, and any additional comments.

The Dogwood Diploma is the certificate of graduation that is granted to a student who completes the Ministry of Education’s provincial graduation requirements It signifies that the student has met the requirements for graduation as set out in the Graduation Program Order. The Evergreen Certificate is a school completion certificate that is awarded to students who meet the goals of their educational program other than graduation. This often is granted to students with Individual Education Plans or who have met other criteria as established by the school. 

Adaptations are teaching and assessment strategies especially designed to accommodate a student’s needs so he or she can achieve the learning outcomes of the subject or course and to demonstrate mastery of concepts. Adaptations can happen in relation to the learning outcomes of any grade or course level. The key to remember is that the Ministry learning outcomes are still being met. Adaptations can take the form of differentiated instruction, assessment and materials in order to create a flexible learning environment.

Modifications refer to instructional and assessment related decisions made to accommodate a student’s educational needs that consist of individualized learning goals and outcomes which are different that learning outcomes of a course or subject. Modifications are considered for students whose special needs are such that they are unable to access the curriculum (i.e. students with limited awareness of their surroundings, students with fragile mental/physical health, students medically and cognitively/multiply challenged).

The school district works closely with a provincial resource program called Special Educational Technology – British Columbia (SET-BC) to provide technology to students with multiple needs. One of the needs addressed through technology can be non-verbal, expressive communication through the loan of an Augmentative and Alternative Communication device (AAC). If your child is designated as a student with Special Needs and is found to be a potential client for SET-BC services, the School Based Team will go through a referral process with SET-BC to secure the technology needed. The referral includes a Parent Consent form and is reviewed by a screening committee including SET-BC consultants, a district partner, and other professionals (e.g. Speech and Language Pathologist, School Psychologist, Helping teachers, etc.). Once approved, the school will receive the loan of necessary equipment for the student, as well as training and support as necessary. If a student is not eligible for and AAC device through SET-BC, consultation with the school’s SLP will provide you with alternative options.


We encourage you to talk to your child’s teacher about the possibilities of work experience. There are many options, depending on the ability of your child, and these options are best discussed at the school level.

There is a transition process that takes place when your child leaves high school. The process is best begun earlier on in high school so that the entire team working with your child (both school-based and community-based) will understand the goals for your child and will work in tandem in order to meet those goals. Please speak with your child’s classroom teacher about the transition process. 

The school district works hand-in-hand with Nursing Support Services (NSS) to ensure that all students needing the expertise of nurses will receive the appropriate help. NSS assists children in our community from birth to the age of 19 through arranging for either delegated or direct care. Examples of delegated care in our school system include training school personnel for tube feeding, catheterization, diabetic monitoring and seizure management. In these cases, one of the nursing professionals will come to the school to train and certify both a primary caregiver and a back-up person. There are also a few examples of direct care support in our schools. These are set up when the medical needs of the student are such that the care cannot be delegated. In these instances a nurse will be hired to attend the school with the student and take care of the daily needs of the student.

Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are written every year and must be completed by the end of October. The IEP is written by the student’s Case Manager, but is done so in consultation with the student’s support team. This team always includes parents/guardians, but can also include paraprofessionals such as Teaching Assistants and other professionals (e.g. Occupational and Physical Therapists). The IEP is a working document and will be reviewed several times per year. You will be contacted early in the fall and invited to an IEP meeting where the previous year’s goals and objectives will be reviewed, and new ones will be established.

If you have any questions about your child’s educational needs, please speak directly with your child’s classroom teacher or Case Manager. He/She will have the most well-rounded view of your child’s educational needs and progress and will be able to provide balanced input.


There are several provincial resource programs that work directly with every school district in the province. Our school district has established district partners (district staff) who liaise with these provincial resource programs and ensure that each school has access to the support provided by these programs. Access to these programs happens through the support of the district partner. Each school knows who the partners are and can direct the enquiries.

The following are the resource programs offered to our district (along with their websites):