Brandon School Division currently has more than 300 educational assistants employed and they may need to hire more.
Supt. Donna Michaels said the number of educational assistants has been increasing incrementally over the past several years — adding between six to 10 each year.
“We see an increase every year because we see an increase in the number of students with special needs and also we’re seeing an increase of students who have English as an additional language,” Michaels said.
Board chair Mark Sefton said providing educational assistant support for EAL students, helps them to function better in school.
“We have 1,250 EAL kids … most of whom were born off shore, whose first language is not English,” Sefton said. “They need some extra help.”
Educational assistants also help out with students who have special needs. Life Skills programs are located at Riverheights and Neelin schools.
The division is seeing an increasing number of students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which often requires one-on-one support from an educational assistant.
“FASD has been with us recognizably since about 1990,” Michaels said, adding there appears to be more cases of it.
Educational assistants help keep students engaged in the range of activities that take place in the learning environment, according to Manitoba Education. These activities may be academic, social or related to specific student needs.
Michaels said they are hiring people back as educational assistants on a term basis as needed and the potential is there to hire more.
“The EA situation is not quite as clear cut as the teaching situation, because the EAs, some are assigned to children individually, some are assigned to a small group, some are assigned to a classroom and those needs can change depending upon who moves in and who moves out.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 14, 2012