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Recovery Plan for Student Success: Parents remain on the front lines

Quebec City, May 6, 2021 — The English Parents’ Committees Association of Quebec (EPCA) and the Quebec Federation of Parents’ Committees (FCPQ) welcome measures announced today by Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge, and the Minister for Education, Isabelle Charest.

For over a year, parents have been there to support their children’s educational success in challenging times, looking to be more actively involved and engaged in academic decision-making. Parent surveys during the school year have shown increased satisfaction with communications related to health measures and cases of COVID-19 in their school that have been sent home, setting a new expectation when it comes to communications related to the success and progress of our children.

The announced measures are a step in the right direction to match this expectation, especially when it comes to creating a new liaison officer in disadvantaged communities. This is a long-standing request from parents that we hope will be extended to all schools.

The intent of two formal communications with parents during the year, as was announced today, should however be transformed into individual meetings where true exchanges can take place. Face-to-face discussions on student progress would better promote smooth transitions within school, as well as foster co-education and improved parental involvement. We further recommend that the number of meetings be increased for parents of students with special needs, beyond the two-session minimum.

Individualized Success Plan 

That being said, both EPCA and the FCPQ are disappointed that their proposal for an individualized success plan (ISP) for each student has not been accepted this year. We are certain that this tool would contribute to improved student success, while also becoming an important means for both parents and school staff to enhance collaboration and communications. We will continue to advocate on the benefits of the ISP in the future. 

Tutoring and Student Support

 The extension of the tutoring program remains a positive development. Parents, however, reiterate that setting criteria that narrowly restricts eligibility for tutoring must be avoided. The program should be available to all students who need it, and requests from parents who feel that their child would benefit from this support should be taken into serious consideration.

In addition, we are satisfied that educational activities proposed for the summer season do address a concrete need, especially among vulnerable students, as well as those in the anglophone and allophone communities. We support the granting of this partnership to the Réseau québécois pour la réussite éducative, a solid and trusted organization. These summer activities should remain a choice for families, however, and should be targeted to meet local needs in collaboration with community groups on the ground.

 Motivating Young People

Parents have repeatedly emphasized the importance of extracurricular activities and social initiatives in motivating young people. We therefore welcome plans to enhance programs that allow young people to be more active and go on more frequent educational outings away from the classroom, such as À l'ecole, on bouge!

Back-to-School 2021-2022 

With the announcement of an adolescent vaccination campaign to take place before the next school year, we remain hopeful that all students will be able to return to school in person. This would be excellent news for our youth, who would then be able to access support services tailored to their needs on school premises, while also benefiting from face-to-face social interactions.

When it comes to informing parents of decisions on health and safety measures, and any related adjustments to the back-to-school plan that may be necessary, we are satisfied with the proposed timeline. We will, of course, be listening.

To consult this media communique in French, click here.

EPCA calls for significant revamp of services for special needs students across Quebec education system

Survey shows excessive delays and poor financing leaves students struggling

March 28, 2021, Montreal QC - It is with an ongoing sense of frustration that EPCA calls on the Ministry of Education of the Government of Quebec (MEES) to significantly restructure and revamp services for special needs students across our public school system. This position comes after a survey of more than 2000 parents of handicapped children and children with social maladjustments or learning disabilities, who detailed their experiences and perspectives dealing with an outdated and inflexible network of assessments, service requests and insufficient funding.

“This is not a new problem, but it was well past time that it be solved. Students with special needs are among the most vulnerable in our education system, and yet the Ministry’s assessment and funding policies are so dragged down by heavy bureaucratic structure that it can take years to get a decision. In the meantime, our children fall further and further behind in school, waiting for help,” says Katherine Korakakis, president of EPCA. “Focusing on a potential Bill on special needs services is not the right approach. The Government must change its mindset and rebuild the system in its entirety to create a new structure system that works for our kids, so that no family ever has to wait years for an assessment - with all the struggle that brings - ever again.”

According to EPCA’s survey results, approximately 59% of respondents did not have a recognized MEES difficulty code for their children, which means that no additional funding is allocated by MEES to support them. Even for those students who were eventually granted a recognized MEES difficulty code, the delay was extreme. More than 33% of those who received a code had to wait 12 months or more for the diagnosis to be completed. Once the diagnosis was received, more than 20 % had to wait an additional 6 months or more to receive a decision from MEES on coding.

As part of its consultation, EPCA conducted a survey of the wider parent community via social media and through direct contact with parent committee delegates of the 8 member school boards, putting significant effort to pull together perspectives from across Quebec’s anglophone community in spite of the tight timelines imposed by MEES. The survey resulted in a total of 2325 responses between March 15 and March 19, 2021. Of these, 1,435 respondents completed the survey, demonstrating the complexity of both the survey itself and the subject matter. For a summary of the survey results, please visit here.

For Interviews
Katherine Korakakis
Tel: 514 668-8672

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