Special needs students increasingly integrated into normal classrooms

Special needs students increasingly integrated into normal classrooms

Students in difficulty, increasingly numerous in the schools of Quebec, are also more present than ever in normal classes.

The proportion of students with special needs integrated into normal groups is now 74%, compared to 71% two years ago. In 2003/04, this proportion was 61%.

Gérald Boutin, a professor at UQAM who has studied this issue, recalls that the policy of special education, which dates from the early 2000s, praises the integration of these pupils into normal classes. Several other education systems are headed in this direction, he says. “The problem is that it becomes very cumbersome for teachers,” he adds, because resources and services are not always there.

Christian Cloutier, who teaches sixth grade at a school in downtown Quebec, confirms this. In his class, five students have special needs and no additional help is offered. “There are regular pupils who are penalized, it’s obvious. But we try to minimize that as much as possible, “he says. He also feels fortunate this year, since in other classes, nearly 50% of students have special needs, he says.

Brigitte Dubé, spokesperson for the Coalition of Parents of Children with Special Needs, expressed her disappointment that the integration of students in difficulty in regular classes has a “bad rep”. “There are cases where it works,” she says.

Obstacles

However, she agrees with many that lack of resources harms the integration of several children. Teachers should also be trained better at university in order to know how to intervene with these students, she adds.

For its part, the Federation of Teaching Unions (FSE-CSQ) recalls that the popularity of private schools and of special projects in secondary schools, where pupils are often selected, harms the integration of pupils in difficulty in normal classes, where they are more concentrated and focuses

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