Learning Support & Counselling
The aim is to help students understand challenges they may face in their learning or emotional development, to learn and practice strategies and to advocate for themselves.
At various times, students may benefit from some additional support from our team of professionals.
The school has three Counsellors – two in Primary School and one in Secondary School – and five Learning Support teachers – two in Primary School and three in Secondary School. Our team of Counsellors and Learning Support teachers work individually or in small group formats with students identified by teachers and the Principal. Sometimes the support is short-term and sometimes of longer, consistent duration.
The aim is to help students understand challenges they may face in their learning or emotional development, to learn and practice strategies and to advocate for themselves. One-on-one support does not take place without prior discussion with the student’s parents and their expressed permission. Small group work may sometimes be conducted as part of the fabric of the classroom life and permission is not sought – these are often short-lived sessions targeting some issues with social dynamics and bullying or assisting students with specific or new skills.
Students with learning differences or difficulties often benefit from additional work with one of the Learning Support teachers. In most cases in Primary School, they offer support in literacy skills to combat the challenges faced by students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other language-based disorders. Sometimes skills in numeracy are also addressed.
Along with classroom teachers and the Primary Principal, the LS teachers develop an IEP (Individual Education Plan) which indicates the skills and goals to be targeted and practiced. The plan is shared with the parents and suggestions for home support are made.
After several sessions, the LS teacher meets with the parents to give feedback. Some students may benefit from counselling along with learning support. LS teachers may need further information about the student’s strengths, weaknesses and underlying causes for the difficulties – a psycho-educational evaluation may be required to gather this information. The LS teachers and counsellors make referrals to appropriate professionals outside the school for this testing procedure.
LS teachers provide information and suggested strategies to classroom teachers. They may, at times, work with the student in the classroom setting as well. LS teachers include information on the student’s work and continued progress towards the goals in the progress reports in December and June. They are also available to meet with parents as necessary and they provide suggestions for parental support and activities at home.
Sometimes, teachers may ask an LS teacher to come into the classroom for a mini-lesson in literacy skills for a small group of students who do not need ongoing support but just short-term targeted work. No permission from parents is required as this is part of the classroom structure itself.
In Secondary, our SEN department strives to create opportunities for teachers to have access to information, support and advice on teaching methods recommended for students with special educational needs.
The aim is to ensure that all students have an opportunity to demonstrate their ability through fair and arranged assessment conditions.
Sometimes students’ academic performance, focus or social interactions may be affected by stresses they experience in our complex world – changes in family structure, divorce, death of a loved one or pet, learning challenges, the mismatch between a parent’s and child’s personality or expectations, etc. This may cause inappropriate, disrespectful or destructive behaviours, conflicts or withdrawal from social and collaborative interactions.
To help the student become more adjusted in the classroom environment, the services of a professional counsellor can be invaluable. Aspects of talk, play and art therapy are used.
In Primary, two qualified counsellors are available to work with students, usually individually and sometimes in groups. Usually, the referral for counselling comes from teachers and/or parents but, occasionally, older students may request such support themselves. The counsellors may be asked to observe the student in the classroom but individual counselling does not begin without discussion with the parents. In an unusual circumstance, a student might need to see a counsellor immediately – in such a case the Primary Principal assesses the need and communicates with the parents soon thereafter. Counselling sessions are usually once a week for 30-45 minutes but may be more frequent when necessary.
Generally, after several sessions, the counsellor meets with the parents to share feedback and suggest strategies to support the student at home. Often, suggestions are made for altering parenting techniques or for further evaluation of the student’s learning and emotional profile.
In Secondary, our Social-Emotional Counsellor provides social and emotional support to students from grades 6 to 12 with regular Social-Emotional learning sessions for grades 9-12 discussing essential topics like teamwork, time management, peer pressure, empathy, self-esteem, learning style, goal-setting, decision-making, and leadership skills.