Two retired educators and an education professor have been named to a three-member team to look at whether special education programming and services are achieving their desired results. The review will also consider the impact of special education programming and services on children in the school system in Nova Scotia. The review may include but not be limited to such topics as teacher education, transition planning for 18-21-year-olds, inclusionary practices, integrated services and programming support as well as others that may be identified by the review committee in the coming weeks. “We want to ensure that each student is receiving a quality education,” said Education Minister Karen Casey. “This review team will identify our successes and where we can do more.” Walter Farmer, a retired school administrator from Enfield, Hants Co.; Miles MacDonald, a retired school principal from Guysborough; and Lynn Aylward, a professor with Acadia University’s education faculty, Wolfville, Kings Co., will form the committee. Together, they have a broad range of classroom, student services and administrative experience. The review will provide an opportunity for parents, educators, school board members and staff, school advisory council chairpersons and advocacy organizations to share their thoughts on special education programming and services. Dates, times and locations of these forums will be announced soon. In addition to the forums, interested parties can send written submissions to the Department of Education or comment through the department’s website. Contact information and a specific web address will be included with the announcement of the forum schedule. A final report, with recommendations, is expected by the summer. The three team members will be supported by an advisory committee of six representatives from prominent advocacy groups. All six people are members of the Special Education Program Services committee, which meets regularly with Department of Education officials. The advisory committee will be Ron Brunton, Nova Scotia Teachers Union; Mary Jess MacDonald, Nova Scotia School Boards Association; Annie Baert, Learning Disabilities Association of Nova Scotia; Mary Rothman, Nova Scotia Association for Community Living; Patricia Murray, Department of Health, children’s services; and Vicki Harvey, Autism Society of Nova Scotia. “Nova Scotia released its special education policy in 1996 and the department has worked closely with educators, parents, students and advocates to establish programming that helps students with special needs to succeed,” said Ms. Casey. This policy, supported by the Education Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guides school boards in the development of educational programming for students with special needs. As in the other provinces across Canada, Nova Scotia supports inclusive learning for all students. In May 2000, the education minister established the Special Education Implementation Review Committee to report on the roll-out of the province’s special education policy. The committee reported back to the minister in June 2001, making 34 recommendations to address challenges that had been identified. All 34 report recommendations have been acted upon. About one in five students needs additional help at some time in their public school experience. This can range from a one-time assessment interview to ongoing support for students with long-term medical or health needs. The Department of Education is investing $118 million in formula funding this year to support students with special needs. Since 2003-04, almost 175 resource teachers, speech language pathologists, school psychologists and other education professionals have been hired in the public school system.