Special Programs & Services

To experience success and achieve identified learning outcomes, some students with special needs may require the assistance of one or more of the following program interventions or support services:


Adaptations are planned and implemented within the regular classroom setting for students who require adaptations to curriculum, learning materials, instructional strategies and/or evaluation strategies in order for the student to experience success and achieve prescribed learning outcomes in the Public School Program. Resources (human and material) are also included in Adaptations.

Adaptations may be necessary in one or more of the following:

  • Organizational Strategies 
  • Environmental Strategies 
  • Presentation/Instructional Strategies 
  • Motivational Strategies 
  • Assessment Strategies 
  • Resources (human and material)

Adaptations: Strategies and Resources

Assistive Technology Services

CCRCE’s Assistive Technology Specialists provide support in schools across the district. They receive referrals for service from school’s Site-based Support Teams, through TIENET.  As with all special programs and services, Assistive Technology (AT) is employed in the context of the Program Planning Process. The following graphic, taken from page13 of the provincial guide, places Assistive Technology in that context.

Assistive Technology Graphic

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Specialist Services

The Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education recognizes that students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) require special programs, interventions and services.  It is the role of the Autism Support Specialist to provide support and services to students diagnosed with ASD as well as to teachers, school administrators, Student Services staff and parents / guardians in the areas of assessment, intervention and program planning.

The Autism Specialist provides a range of services, including:

  • Assisting schools with the development and implementation of program plans for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Working with the Program Planning Team to ensure that IPP’s are appropriate and implemented effectively.
  • Planning and conducting professional development for staff related to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Informing and advising parents and guardians.
  • Promoting awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder throughout the region.
  • Providing support to classroom teachers and Educational Assistants.
  • Assisting schools with the transitioning of ASD students

ASD Specialists’ Service is needs-based.  Referrals are received from schools through the Site-Based Support Team process.  ASD Specialists prioritize their referrals based on highest need and schedule their service accordingly. 

Developing and Implementing Programming for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Behavioural Interventions/Behavioural Support (in identified schools)

Students with behavioural concerns are frequently brought before a school’s Site-based Support Team (SBST).  The team follows the Program Planning Process when this occurs. 

Some referrals to the SBST may result in suggestions being made to the referring teacher. If the teacher finds the situation leading to the referral is not resolved by implementing the suggestions received, the student will be re-referred to the SBST.

“Significant behavioural needs” refers to excessive, chronic, inappropriate behaviours that consistently interfere with the learning and/or social development of the student, as well as that of other students despite repeated adaptations/ interventions.


  1.  This does not include students who occasionally transgress classroom or school rules. 
  2.  It should be noted that students with significant behaviour needs only comprise a minimal percentage of the overall student population (notwithstanding students who have other mental health concerns).

In instances where the students’ needs are “significant,” the SBST continues to move through the stages of the Program Planning Process.  The school psychologist, a member of the SBST, has an especially important role in helping the team determine how to proceed in situations involving “significant behavioural needs

CCRCE’s Behaviour Support Model is built upon the following research-based practices: Positive Effective Behaviour Support research; the Response to Intervention Framework and the Restorative Approach.  The model offers strategies for behaviour management and support at three levels or tiers: school-wide, targeted groups of students, and individuals. At all three levels, decisions regarding behaviour management are made based on real data and research. The solutions put in place – whether for a school population or a single student – must be evidence-based and progress must be tracked. All three components of the model support CCRCE’s approach to, and belief in, social and emotional learning (SEL). The Student Services team looks at the whole student when recommending or developing specific strategies. They know that a student’s social and emotional capacity will often dictate their success in school. 

All schools have the services of an assigned school psychologist. In identified schools, a Behaviour Specialist is also available.  Some schools also have access to SchoolsPlus. Family Interventionists are another facet of CCRCE’s support array, and are available in many other schools. Behavioural Intervention options are available to all SBSTs.  The forms they take vary from school to school.  

Crisis Prevention and Response

Crisis Intervention in Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education has the following objectives: 

  1. To provide the school community with necessary support in order to prevent students from struggling in isolation, and falling victim to their imagination and perceptions of life and death. 
  2. To provide students and school personnel with the opportunity to explore their feelings and express their grief in a safe and comfortable environment.  
  3. To reduce confusion, prevent the spread of rumors and offer counselling to control anxiety and/or inappropriate behaviors arising from the crisis/tragic event. 
  4. To provide a network of support for students, school personnel and parents to draw on during or following the crisis/tragic event. 
  5. To liaise with appropriate community agencies (e.g. Mental Health and churches), in an attempt to minimize immediate and/or long-range traumatic stress. 

Note: The Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education is in the process of updating/revising procedures related to crisis prevention and response (May 2015).  Until new policies or procedures are available, policy #ES-SS-01 - Crisis/Tragic Events Response is in effect.

Educational Assistant Services (EA)/Teacher Assistant Services (TA)

Consistent with its commitment to the principles of "inclusion" and "only as special as necessary", the Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education recognizes that within an inclusive environment some students with special needs will require a range of support services.  While the teacher(s) has the primary responsibility for planning, programming, teaching, evaluating and reporting for all students in his / her class(es), Educational Assistants (EAs, referred to as TAs in provincial documents) are among the human resources that may be required to assist and support teachers in meeting the special needs of some students.

Educational Assistants are assigned to a school, not a student.  They are assigned to meet specific needs; if and when needs change, they may be reassigned.  The allocation of Educational Assistant time is administered by the Co-ordinator of Student Services (or designate) regionally, and by the Student Services Consultant at the Family level.  At the school level, the Principal will assign Educational Assistants to assist students with Medical/Personal Care needs or Safety/Behavioural Management.  Educational Assistants are responsible to the principal of the school and carry out their duties under the immediate direction of the teacher(s) to whom they are assigned.

The need for Educational Assistant support is determined on an individual basis.

Teacher Assistant Guidelines  

Emergency Health Care Plans

For all students registering in schools in Nova Scotia, parents/guardians are required to provide a Nova Scotia MSI card number.  They are also asked to complete a form, indicating whether the student has certain medical conditions: 

  • allergies (severe allergic reaction) 
  • anxiety/depression 
  • asthma
  • diabetes 
  • epilepsy/seizures 
  • heart condition 
  • flight risk (due to diagnosed medical condition) 
  • other

In instances where the student has a diagnosed medical condition which requires particular procedures to be carried out during the school day, or which requires school personnel to respond in a specific way to certain symptoms/signs related to the condition, an Emergency Care Plan/Health Care Plan is prepared and recorded in TIENET. The student’s file is ‘flagged’ to indicate the existence of a Care Plan. The plans include the following information:

Individual Health Care Plan 

  • Health Conditions 
    • Specific Support Required
    • Procedures 
    • Person(s) Responsible 
    • Material and Equipment Required
  • Supporting Information 

Individual Emergency Health Care Plan 

  • Medical Condition(s) 
    • Signs & Symptoms
    • Necessary Action(s)
  • Emergency Contacts
    • Name
    • Relationship to Student
    • Phone Type
    • Phone Number
  • Supporting Information

Family Interventionists

The Family Interventionist (FI) positions in CCRCE have been created through collaborative partnership agreements with various outside agencies.  Family Interventionists are professionals being integrated in some elementary school communities and at the middle school/junior high level where SchoolsPlus is currently not offered. 

Like SchoolsPlus facilitators, family interventionists provide complex case management support, both direct and indirect.  They help students and their families navigate the many agencies from which a family may be drawing support and assist them in gaining access to services in a timely manner. 

Family interventionists are full members of a school’s Site-Based Support Team or Positive Behaviour Support Team, but are supervised by Mental Health Services or the Department of Community Services.

Gifted Education and Talent Development

While the Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education educational system strives to provide a wide range of educational experiences and opportunities, there are students with special needs who require extended challenge to meet their full potential.  Students with gifts and talents (gifted) need exactly what all other students need, "consistent opportunity to learn and develop".  

Alternative program planning is as important for gifted students as it is for any student with special needs.

As part of the program planning process for students with special needs, the Student Services Division encourages schools to develop and implement program plans to address the needs of the gifted and talented.  Student Services provides advice, assistance and support to school initiatives designed to enrich the school experience for gifted students.

Gifted Education and Talent Development, 2010

Guidance Services

In many of our schools, guidance and counseling services are available to assist with the development of student competencies in each area relating to the essential graduation learnings.

Guidance is a program devoted to providing educational programs and services to all students in all grades and involves all members of the school community in its delivery.  An effective guidance program provides preventative, responsive and remedial services and support to students as they acquire knowledge, attitudes, strategies and skills in four areas of development:

  • Personal - understanding and appreciating oneself.
  • Social - relating effectively with others.
  • Educational - developing appropriate educational goals.
  • Career - developing life and career plans.

Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling, 2010 (under review) 

Homebound Teaching/Tutoring

The Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education recognizes that regular attendance and participation in the school program is vital for student success.  However, the CCRCE acknowledges that on occasion it is impossible for some students, due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, to attend school for an extended period of time.

In situations where a student is recovering from serious illness or accident, or is unable to attend school as a result of unique health-related circumstances, the CCRCE considers requests for Homebound Teaching/Tutoring Student Support. Decisions regarding the provision of such support are made on a case-by-case basis.  

The procedure for considering homebound support is initiated when a parent/guardian contacts the school principal and requests homebound support.

Homebound support may include one or more of the following:

  • School preparation of home study or work packages. 
  • Correspondence studies.
  • Home tutor support.

The Homebound Teaching/Tutoring Student Support Program serves to ensure that long-term illness, accident or other exceptional health-related circumstances will not unduly disrupt a student's learning and success in school.

Individual Program Plans (IPPs)

For those students for whom the outcomes in the Public School Program (PSP) are no longer applicable or attainable, an Individual Program Plan (IPP) shall be developed.  The IPP is developed by the Program Planning Team and includes information about the student’s strengths and challenges, annual individualized learning outcomes, specific individualized outcomes, strategies and materials to be used, persons responsible, criteria for success, proposed timelines, evaluation, support services to be provided, specialized equipment required, transition plans, areas of responsibility, review dates and signatures.

Classroom teachers, other staff involved with the student (school / regional), parents / guardians, outside agencies / professionals (as appropriate) and the student (as appropriate) should have input into the development and implementation of the IPP.  

Depending on the needs of the student, IPPs focus on one or more of the following areas: 

  • Academic – Literacy and/or Numeracy 
  • Enrichment 
  • Life Skills
  • Social Development

The Program Planning Process: A Guide for Parents, 2016

Learning Centres

As part of the program planning process for students with special needs, the Program Planning Team (PPT) may determine that the Individual Program Plan for a particular student can best be implemented in a self-contained, small class setting (Learning Centre).   Learning Centre refers to a model of instruction and the spaces in which it is employed.  Similar spaces were known as Special Education Classrooms, Life Skills Classrooms, and /or Extended Program Support Classrooms in CCRCE and across the province of Nova Scotia.  CCRCE is working toward adopting the use of the term ‘Learning Centre,’ which is preferred by the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD).

Within the context of the principle "only as special as necessary," Learning Centre placements require careful planning and discussion to ensure the student is educated in the least restrictive environment.  

Steps Required for Learning Centre Placement:  

  1. Referral to Site-Based Support Team.
  2. Recommendation from Site-Based Support Team.  
  3. Recommendation from Program Planning Team.
  4. Approval from Student Services Consultant.  

Students approved for Learning Centre placement generally have documented, profound deficits in adaptive functioning skills which severely impair their independence in one or more of the following areas:

  • Severely restrictive medical/physical disability
  • Communication (understanding oral language, ability to speak)
  • Independent living skills (personal care, household skills, community)
  • Socialization (interpersonal relationships, play and leisure, coping skills)
  • Motor skills (fine and gross motor) 

The student has:

  • an Individual Program Plan with a Life Skills concentration as a result of severe delays in intellectual or living skills disabilities, and/or
  • other non-academic situations, (e.g. diagnosed severe emotional/behavioural disability). 

Communication and collaboration with parents, classroom teachers and outside agencies are key features of the Learning Centre Model.   In a Learning Centre, a student receives specially designed instruction and support services as contained in his or her IPP.  These may address basic literacy and numeracy skills, social and emotional development, functional life skills, and/or development of organization and study skills. Instruction may take place in small groups or one-on-one.  Learning Centre teachers also promote their students’ self-advocacy skills and support transition planning. 

Learning Disabilities Support

Learning Disabilities Support is provided by a Learning Disabilities Teacher or a Resource Teacher.  It is a Student Services initiative intended to support students with diagnosed learning disabilities.  The model is designed to enable identified students to acquire the skills and strategies necessary to experience success in the classroom.

Emphasis is placed on:

  • Remediation of academic skills.
  • Development of compensatory strategies.
  • Implementation of adaptations.  
  • Development of self-knowledge and advocacy skills.

Psychological Services

The Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education recognizes that identifying and meeting the needs of some students with special needs may require psychological assessment, intervention and support services.  Accordingly, the CCRCE provides the services of School Psychologists within each Family of Schools.

It is the role of the School Psychologist to provide psychological services and support to schools, students and parents / guardians in the areas of assessment, intervention and program planning for students.

Psychological services are administered through the Student Services Division of the Education Services Department with services assigned to schools by the Student Services Consultant in each Family of Schools.  As with all special programs and services, access to psychological services follows the Program Planning Process.  Requests for psychological services are brought before the Site-based Support Team before a referral is completed via TIENET. These referrals are made with the informed written consent of parents/guardians.

School Psychology Guidelines, 2009

Resource Teacher Services (formerly Program Support Teacher Services)

Resource Support Teachers provide both direct and indirect services in support of students with special needs.

Direct services include individual and small group instruction for students with special needs in the classroom, the resource classroom, or in the Learning Centre (self-contained classroom) for some students with significantly high needs.  The focus of direct instruction is usually in areas where the student is experiencing specific and significant difficulty in acquiring the knowledge or skills required to experience success and to achieve established individual outcomes and/or provincial curriculum outcomes.  Direct service can involve assessment, instruction and interventions.  These are intended to assist and support the student.  A balance of remediation and compensation is expected.

Direct or indirect services are planned in consultation with the classroom teacher(s) and may be provided by the Resource Teacher in the Resource Classroom or in a co-teaching arrangement with the classroom teacher(s).

Supporting Student Success


The services provided at each SchoolsPlus site will respect and address the unique needs of the community. Each site has a regional advisory committee with representation from various government departments such as Justice, Health, Community Services, Education, and Health Promotion and Protection. The advisory committees help identify gaps in services or resources and help come up with solutions.

SchoolsPlus will work towards: 

  • A comprehensive, collaborative, seamless delivery of service.
  • Sharing of information and resources among agencies.
  • Timely and effective services.
  • Accountability and use of evidence-based best practices.
  • Service beyond the school day. 
  • Capacity building. 
  • Family-friendly schools.

Referrals come primarily from school program planning teams. Service providers may also make referrals, and students and families may refer themselves. 


Special Transportation Services

The Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education , Student Services staff and the staff of the Operations Department (Transportation Division) are committed to the safe and efficient transportation of all students, including those with special needs.

Providing safe and efficient transportation for students with special needs requires co-operation, effective communication and sharing of information among all those involved with the student, including:

  • Parents or guardians
  • School personnel
  • Student Services personnel 
  • Transportation personnel
  • Others:  e.g. health professionals

Provision of appropriate transportation services for students with special needs requires careful and timely planning.  

Speech-Language Pathology Services

Speech-Language Services in education have evolved in response to educational research and the need for Speech-Language Services and support for an increasing number of students with special needs.  Research has resulted in a clearer understanding of the relationship between language, learning and academic success.

Students must acquire and use their language knowledge and skills to develop as readers, writers, speakers and problem solvers.

Accordingly, the Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education provides speech-language services and support throughout the region's schools.  All schools receive service from a speech-language pathologist.  Referrals are made to schools’ Site-based Support Teams through TIENET and follow the Program Planning Process.

Speech-Language Pathologists work not only with students but also with teaching staff, support personnel, school administration and families in the planning and delivery of services to students and schools.  Any or all of the above persons may be part of a supportive speech and language helping community for the student.  

It is the role of the Speech-Language Pathologist to provide support to schools, students and parents / guardians in the areas of identification, assessment, intervention and program planning for students with communication disorders and/or challenges with early literacy skills. Well-balanced service delivery involves the Speech-Language Pathologist in provision of   direct and/or indirect services to students and schools depending upon student and school needs.

Speech-Language Pathology Guidelines, 2010

Transition Planning

Transition periods present challenges for all students but particularly for students with special needs, and their families.  Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education recognizes that smooth transitions are critical to success for students with special needs.  Therefore, the CCRCE expects that transitions will be planned carefully and consistently such as to ensure appropriate placement and adjustment to new programs, new environments and new people.  The transition plan should reflect the student's needs, and goals for the student in the new setting.

For students with special needs, key transitions include: 

  • Transition from home/pre-school to Primary. 
  • Transition from grade-to-grade.
  • Transition from school-to-school.
  • Transition from school to post-secondary institution / work / community. 

The Student Services Division has prepared and provided transition guidelines and procedures (within the Program Planning Process) for schools to follow such that:

  • Students with special transitioning needs are identified in a timely fashion.
  • Parents / guardians are informed of available programs, placements and services.
  • Receiving schools, institutions / employers are informed of student needs.
  • Appropriate programs, placement and services are identified prior to transition.
  • A co-ordinated plan is prepared in advance of transition.
  • The transition plan is developed collaboratively with the involvement and input of all stakeholders: parents / guardians, school staff, Student Services staff, the student (age appropriate), receiving school / institution staff, employer (as appropriate), outside agencies.

Carefully developed transition plans are critical components of the support and services required to ensure that students with special needs experience success at all stages of their development.  Comprehensive transition plans create a "bridge" between the security and structure of the present and the opportunities and the risks of a subsequent environment.  

Transition Planning for Students With Special Needs:  The Early Years Through to Adult Life, 2005