My child is in Grade 1 and hasn’t met
all the outcomes. Should I have my child repeat the grade?
Although there was a time when retaining students (or “failing the
year”) was common, years of educational research has determined that this
is an ineffective and potentially harmful approach that does little to
Likewise, social promotion,
which would occur when students were advanced to the next grade level with
their peers without consideration to their specific learning needs, also
did not support student success.
The best practice approach for supporting students is neither
retention nor social promotion. Instead, research tells us that
the most effective, best outcomes for students happen when
they advance to the next grade with their peers
and have supports in place to help them in the
areas in which they were struggling. This is the best practice
supported by research and it is the practice promoted in Anglophone South
Parents and guardians who are concerned about the best way
to support a student who is struggling should begin the
conversation with their child’s classroom teacher or resource teacher.
Further reading on best practices to support students without retention
or social promotion can be found with the National Association of School
Psychologists and at the links below.
I think my child may have a learning disability. Should we have a
psychologist do an assessment?
Although psychological assessments can be helpful when students have
complex learning needs, most students can be well supported by their
schools without one.
In many cases, a psychological assessment does not provide information
that the teacher does not already have through working with the
student. For example, a learning plan for a student may be the same
whether it is based on the teacher knowing the student is a “struggling reader”
or if it based on a psychologist diagnosing the student with a “specific
learning disorder with impairment in reading.” Teachers will always use
best practices to address learning challenges, with or without a psychological
In the past, certain students would receive alternate teaching strategies, such as extra
time to read a text or a short break during a test. These are now
considered universal accommodations, meaning they are not special
strategies a teacher has to put in place, but just good teaching
Schools can provide some educational assessments to help develop the
learning plan for a student without making a referral to a psychologist.
Resource teachers can do educational assessments of reading and math
skills, for example, without seeking more intensive assessment from a
Even with all the support that can be provided at the school level,
schools will sometimes decide that a student will benefit from a more
comprehensive psychological assessment. In those cases, after the school
and the parents have discussed this option, the school can make a request for
service to the Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) Child and Youth Team.
The Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) Child and Youth Team will collaborate
with the school to determine an appropriate response (e.g., request for data,
recommendations for interventions, consultation, or assessment.) Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams
If you believe your student’s learning plan may benefit from a
psychological assessment, beyond what the school is able to provide, the first
step is to have that conversation with your student’s resource
My child is experiencing anxiety. What should we do?
Anxiety is normal and a common experience for everyone. It is
natural for a student to feel some anxiety about things such tests, public
speaking, sports, or arts performances.
As parents and educators, we do not want to shield
students from all anxiety because we know that will not prepare them to
function as adults. We want our children to grow into adults
who are able to handle strong feelings, including anxiety. To
do that, we must teach them skills to manage anxiety, not deny
them experiences to develop those skills.
It is important for parents and educators to help children and youth
understand that experiencing anxiety is normal. It is also important to
help them understand that anxiety leads to a choice between coping
and avoidance. When we help students develop coping skills,
they are able to manage themselves in situations which naturally
cause anxiety. In fact, most people who have success in stressful
situations—tests, arts performances, sports—use their feeling
of anxiety to improve their performance.
If we frequently allow students to avoid stress, we
deny them the opportunities to build skills which are needed to
function as a well-adjusted adult and to build the resilience needed
to cope with life’s challenges. Ultimately, avoidance
Sometimes anxiety will be very specific, such as certain
classes, locations, or people. For example, a student may be anxious only
about gym class, taking the school bus, or specific peers It is
essential for parents and teachers to talk with the student
about the cause of the anxiety.
If a student is experiencing anxiety and it seems to be beyond your
child’s ability to manage and your ability to help, the first point of contact
at the school should be your child’s teacher or school counsellor.
The teacher and school counsellor can make short-term
adjustments to your child’s learning plan while they help them develop stronger
skills. For example, a student who is highly anxious about a class
presentation, may on this occasion, be given the option to present
to just the teacher and a small group of friends rather than the
entire class; at the same time, the counsellor would work with the
student on strategies such as breathing and focusing to enhance the
student’s ability to manage the anxiety. Generally, even when
the anxiety seems unmanageable, the student will be able to develop skills to
move forward without anxiety being a barrier to achievement.
Occasionally, a student will have anxiety so severe
it interferes with daily tasks, like attending school. In these
cases, students may need to see a counsellor to develop stronger skills to
master the situations causing anxiety. Even in this case, avoidance
is not a solution.
If you are concerned that your student is regularly experiencing severe
anxiety that is affecting multiple daily tasks, you should speak to your
student’s teacher or school counsellor. If the counsellor is
unable to provide the level of support your child needs, they may make a
request for service to the Integrated Service Delivery
Child and Youth Team. The Child and Youth Team is a
team of mental health and education professionals that provide more intensive
mental health services to students than the school staff provide.
Regardless of who is providing the service to your child, there will
always be a role for families in supporting students struggling with
anxiety. School, families, and counsellors must work in partnership
to ensure the student develops the necessary skills to be successful at school
and in life.
Parents of students who are experiencing anxiety may find helpful
information in the following links.
Information about the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams
may be found here:
What services do the school guidance counsellors provide?
School guidance counsellors have specialized training which
other teachers do not have. School counsellors have
completed a graduate degree in counselling, similar to the training
which counsellors in mental health settings have. A teacher in a guidance
role who does not have this training is called a guidance teacher.
School counsellors are responsible for implementing the Comprehensive
and Developmental School Counselling Program. This program has four
parts: the guidance curriculum, individual planning, responsive services, and
- Guidance Curriculum
- Your child may see
the school counsellor in class teaching lessons on career
preparation, character education, or mental health.
- The school counsellor
will work with other teachers and parents to develop plans for students.
At high school, this includes working with students on post-secondary
- School counsellors
offer many counselling services, including personal counselling, crisis
counselling, career counselling, and group counselling.
- Guidance teachers do
not offer counselling services, though they may
support students in other ways, such as providing information, advocating
for the student, or teaching skills.
- The school counsellor
will be involved in special events at the school, such as information
about post-secondary and career options.
School counsellors are available to help students
with personal issues, mental health concerns such as anxiety and
depression, conflict with peers and parents, social skills, career and
post-secondary planning, and general strategies to improve resilience and
well-being. School counsellors are also able to refer students with more
complex mental health needs, such as trauma or a mental health disorder, to the
Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Team, where a more specialized counsellor
can work with the student.
Information about the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams
may be found here:
Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams
My child has extra needs. Shouldn’t they have an Education Assistant
Educational assistants (EAs) have a vital role in
our inclusive school system. They provide valuable services in
helping ensure students can attend school and in creating a
safe, positive learning environment. Schools depend on the work of
these paraprofessionals each day to provide quality education to their
Though educational assistants can have a number of roles, they are
allocated to schools based on student needs for medical care,
personal care, and safety concerns. They may also, under the direction and
supervision of a teacher, assist students with learning needs.
In assessing whether a student needs the support of an educational
assistant, the school will evaluate the needs of the student and review the
resources and strategies available to meet those needs. Assistance from an
EA may be one option to support a student, but there may also be other supports
or interventions that can be put in place to best meet the educational needs of
student. It should be remembered that
the student’s teacher is always the individual with the primary responsibility
for the education of the student.
If a student does require an EA, the school will also include
in the student’s personalized learning plan (PLP) a goal to
increase independence as much as possible so that the student may rely less on
EA support as they progress through their education.
If you are concerned about any needs which your child may
have, the first point of contact should be your child’s teacher or
resource teacher. The teachers will work with you to meet
the child’s needs, and they may bring in other
professionals from the school’s Education Support Services Team (ESST).
Please remember that support of an EA may or may not be part of the plan
developed to meet the student’s needs.
A professional outside the education system told me my child should have
an Education Assistant (EA). Why isn’t the school doing that?
It is always the educators—teachers,
principals, school counsellors, resource teachers—who are responsible
for the education plan for a student. However,
these school-based professionals will always take input from non-educational
professionals when making educational decisions.
Often, when a student’s needs are complex, it takes a team of professionals
with varied backgrounds to get a complete picture of the student’s needs.
This may include medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists,
or other professionals.
However, the educators--teachers, principals, school counsellors,
resource teachers--are best equipped to assign school-based interventions
and supports to address the educational needs of students, based on the
information from the school, parents, and other professionals. School teams
have various resources and strategies available to develop the best educational
plan possible for a student.
For example, a physician consulting on an educational plan for a
student may outline concerns from a medical perspective and suggest the
services of an education assistant as an educational intervention to address
those concerns. However, the school team may well be able to address the
physician’s concerns with other interventions or school supports.
This can be confusing for parents if they expect the school to act on the
doctor’s educational recommendation instead of developing a plan with input
from all professionals involved. It is
always the educators who are responsible for the education plan for a student.
If you have an educational recommendation from a professional outside
education, please bring that recommendation to your child’s teacher, counsellor,
or resource teacher. Please know that the school
team will take input from outside professionals, often inviting the
professionals to attend meetings at the school, and will use their
assessment of the student’s concerns to make the best educational plan possible
for the student. Please remember, however, that not every recommendation
from a professional outside education will be implemented.
I’ve just moved to New Brunswick and learned that the school system is
“inclusive.” What is inclusion?
In New Brunswick, all schools take an inclusive approach to
education. This is a philosophy that all students attend
their neighbourhood schools
with their peers. This philosophy is based on the values that all students have
a right to belong, a right to be respected, a right to
develop to their potential, a right to attend
their neighbourhood school, and a right to be part of their
Inclusion is also a set of teaching practices, such as Universal
Design for Learning, which allows students to participate in a common
learning environment. Inclusion also extends beyond the classroom setting
to school activities and allowing students to be a part of their school
This philosophy and approach may be different
than some other educational jurisdictions in that all
students are included in the school and classroom as much as possible and
students with extra needs spend far less time in separate learning
environments. There are no segregated programs, classes or schools in our
system, with the exception of alternate education programs available
to high school students.
If you have a concern about how your student is being included in
school, you should bring your concern to your student’s teacher or resource
Further information about inclusion and Universal Design for Learning
can be found at the following links:
A student in my child’s class has been making threatening
comments, and I’ve seen the same student post threats online.
How do I know my child is safe?
The most important responsibility of everyone in the school community—including
parents and students—is to inform the school principal of threats of violence
or suspicions about potential violent behaviour. Often this may be
something a parent or student sees online through social media.
New Brunswick schools use a model of threat assessment called Violence
Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) developed by the North American
Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response. All school principals
and school counsellors are trained in this multidisciplinary model and work
closely with local police and the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth
Teams to assess threats of violence in our schools and to implement appropriate
If you become aware of a possible threat of violence, please contact
your school principal, vice principal, or local police service as
soon as possible. If you see something, say something. And we’ll do something.
For further information on Violence Threat Risk Assessment, please see
the following links:
I had a meeting with my child’s teacher and she spoke
about “ISD.” What is ISD?
Integrated Service Delivery, or ISD, is the partnership between
Education, Addictions & Mental Health, Social Development, and Public
Safety to coordinate services that are provided to children and youth.
An important component of ISD are the nine Child and Youth Teams located
throughout Saint John region, from St. Stephen to Sussex. These teams are
managed by Addictions & Mental Health, have staff from Addictions &
Mental Health as well as Education, and are closely connected to Social
believe your child or youth could benefit from services offered by an ISD Child
and Youth team, you may discuss it with your school counsellor or contact the
team directly at one of the following numbers:
Saint John: 506-658-3737
about the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams may be found here:
Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams
My child doesn’t want to go to school and seems anxious.
Is it okay if I just keep my child home sometimes?
Parents always want to do the best thing for their children, and no
parent likes to see their children struggle with anxiety about attending
school. However, when students begin staying home, especially in the
early grades, they run the risk of developing a behaviour known as
school refusal (sometimes called school avoidance).
School refusal usually starts in small ways, with a student staying home
occasionally, often complaining of anxiety. If this continues,
the behaviour will often escalate into a situation in which the
student is refusing to attend school at all. The more time the student
misses, the greater the loss of learning for the student, and the more
difficult re-entry to school becomes.
Because of the risks associated with a student developing school
refusal, we encourage parents to send the student to school unless there is
clear evidence of physical illness (e.g., fever, vomiting). General
complaints of uneasiness, stomach complaints, or stated reasons for avoidance
(such as “I don’t like gym class”) should not be reasons to miss school.
If a student has continued physical symptoms, such as stomach
complaints, a visit to the doctor is always a good idea. It is important
for parents, however, to also bring concerns to the school, where teachers
and counsellors have training to
help support students to attend school. Sometimes the
concern is anxiety, in which case the school team can take steps to adjust the
situations which are causing anxiety and help the student learn skills to
manage anxiety. Sometimes the student has found activities which are
preferable to going to school, such as staying home with a
caregiver. In either case, the school team can help.
Parents will always have a key role in helping the student return to
school and maintain good attendance. The most effective approach is
always prevention, so it important that parents of students of all ages are
vigilant against school refusal.
If your student seems to be developing school refusal or has consistent
complaints about school attendance, you should speak to your student’s teacher
or school counsellor.
For more information on school refusal, please see the following links.