The following call to action was issued by ETFO on January 17, 2017.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) today released a call to action to address the critical lack of support for students facing serious behavioural issues that can lead to violent incidents in classrooms. The call comes in advance of a meeting tomorrow with the Ontario ministers of education and labour on the issue.
Among its recommendations ETFO is calling on the government to adequately fund special education programs, set up inter-ministerial supports to build capacity for children’s mental health services and support school board compliance, reporting of incidents and training related to health and safety legislation and policies.
“We know that students who have timely access to effective supports do better in school. The issue is that children with high risk behaviours aren’t getting the mental health referrals and support they need,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “Other children with special needs are not receiving sufficient support and resources, leading to delays in assessment to inform their programming, and often delay or absence in receiving the supports and resources they need to be successful.”
“ETFO firmly supports an integrated model for special education but we, along with school boards and other education stakeholders, have long recognized that Ontario’s funding for special needs has not kept up with the growing and actual needs of students.”
“We need to ensure school environments are physically and psychologically safe to ensure optimal teaching conditions and learning outcomes for students. There is a critical need for more special education teachers, educational assistants, psychologists, behavioural therapists, school support counsellors, child and youth workers and speech language pathologists,” added Hammond.
ETFO is committed to building better schools. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at www.buildingbetterschools.ca.