HSD Student Services is comprised of a team of educational professionals committed to supporting students and schools in improving educational outcomes. Services are provided by social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, educational psychologists, and speech language pathologists.
School Psychologists (SP) support students with learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, social-emotional problems, and/or adaptive behaviour challenges, by providing individual psychological assessments. They provide written reports of assessment findings and recommendations, as well as consultation to parents and teachers to support appropriate education and behaviour programming strategies. In addition, the school psychologist helps to conduct threat/risk assessments, and is part of the crisis response team following critical incidents. HSD employs 5 school psychologists.
Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) evaluate students with communication difficulties, including speech, language, literacy, hearing, non-verbal and oral-motor concerns. The SLP provides programming and recommendations that are functional and based on the student’s current abilities. Recommendations are implemented by the classroom teacher whenever possible. The SLP also provides non-verbal students with augmentative communication specific to their needs. The SLP consults with the school team to support students with communication difficulties which may impact on academic, behaviour, and/or emotional well-being development. The SLP also provides direct supervision, including programs/curriculum development, for pre-school programs in HSD. HSD employs 3.5 Speech Language Pathologists.
Occupational Therapists (OT) provide assessments regarding movement quality, fine and gross motor skills, sensory processing, adaptive and self-care skills. The OT’s recommendations include prescribed activities and outcomes to assist the student’s development in specific areas to attain their full potential within the school environment. The OT also makes referrals to outside agencies for students in need of physical therapy.
School Social Workers (SSW) assist students by providing counselling during crisis situations and other issues such as grief, death, family issues, anxiety management, and other matters affecting school performance. The SSW coordinates services between the school division and other agencies such as Children’s Special Services and Child and Family Services. The SSW organizes intake meetings for students in foster care. They also act as a liaison between parents and school, as well as providing mediation for disputes between home and school. The specialist also takes a lead role in promoting Aboriginal Awareness in schools.
To access the services of any Student Services professional, a written referral from any of the schools in the division must be forwarded to the Student Services Administrator after a formal referral meeting. These referrals can be initiated by concerned teachers, principals, parents, or mature students, although they are coordinated and prioritized at the school level by resource teachers and guidance counsellors.
Once a student concern is identified that goes beyond the normal supports provided by the school, a meeting is initiated by the school. This meeting typically includes the classroom teacher, resource teacher, the appropriate Student Services personnel, and the parents. Guidance counsellors or school principals may also initiate referrals in this manner. Common concerns are discussed and a plan is developed. This may involve additional members from the Student Services team if necessary.
This assistance plan begins only after the parents of the student agree with the process, and provide written consent. After working with the student, a report of the results will be discussed with the parents. The type and severity of the problem determine the length of time the plan continues.