Inadequate services for struggling students says Quebec Ombudsman

Unqualified teachers for students in great difficulty

The teacher shortage is hitting the school adjustment groups hard, where there are students with severe difficulties. According to school staff, the consequences are sometimes “dramatic”, while several non-legally trained teachers have to be called in as reinforcements.

• Also read: Lessons still without a teacher a month after the start of the school year

• Also read: Quebec plans to relax French requirements for foreign-trained teachers

• Also read: Jean-François Roberge says the shortage of teachers will continue for a few more years

Kallie, 14, has no teacher in his specialty class this year. A special education technician serves students with autism spectrum disorders, as has been the case for much of the past year, which has been marked by high staff turnover.

“We were not given a work plan. My daughter relapsed, she had major behavior problems,” laments her mother, Angele Belisle, who lives in Gatineau.

The lack of qualified teachers in special education groups also has a significant impact on other staff.

At a Montreal-area technical school, more than a third of teaching positions were vacant at the start of the school year, according to the principal, who asked not to be identified because she was not authorized to discuss with Le Journal.

However, inappropriate intrusions can help “compromise” the safety of staff and students, she says. “We are already exhausted, we carry it at a distance. The collateral damage of COVID-19 is very felt, those who were vulnerable are even more so,” she adds.

At another specialty school, also located in the Montreal area, almost half of the teachers do not have a teaching certificate. “It’s getting bigger every year. Everyone is doing their best, but our students have big, big challenges. It puts more pressure on other employees,” says its director, who also requested anonymity for the same reasons.

“Disaster Predicted”

For its part, the Coalition of Parents of Children with Special Needs is loud and clear in denouncing the situation. “It’s an announced disaster. Our children are the weakest in Quebec, they deserve more,” emphasizes its President Bianca Nugent.

The situation is similar on the part of the autonomous educational association.

“It’s a bit dramatic when the students with the greatest needs end up with the least trained teachers. Dealing with learning difficulties cannot be improvised,” says its President Mélanie Hubert.

  • Listen to Simon Landry’s interview on the show by Philippe-Vincent Foisy, streamed live daily at 6:50am via QUB radio :

Very severe cases

With the policy of integrating students with difficulties into normal classes, really young people “with very serious difficulties” now find themselves in school adaptation groups, points out Geneviève Sirois, professor of school administration at TELUQ University.

As part of her research, she conducted interviews with several employees of the school network. Special education positions are even more difficult to fill, so classes are maxed out to reduce the number of teachers to be hired, he was told.

A month after the start of the school year, a number of special school contracts are still vacant, as we can read on the websites of several service points.

“Recruitment difficulties in special education have long existed, but the situation is particularly glaring this year,” confirms Kathleen Legault, president of the Montreal Association of School Principals.

“That worries us. We’ve increased the number of specialized classes in recent years, but it’s becoming less and less interesting for parents,” she adds, when the staff isn’t qualified.

Unqualified teachers for students in great trouble

Bianca Nugent
superior coalition

Do you have any information about this story that you would like to share with us?

Do you have a scoop that might be of interest to our readers?