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Find out About the School Supports Available in the Lower Mainland

School supports

Hard to believe that September is just around the corner. Time for a new school year, and new beginnings. If you’re new to Canada, you’ll want to know about the many services and school supports available to help your children adjust to their new life in a Canadian school system.

Schools in British Columbia offer Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) Programs – a school-based settlement service for immigrants and refugees that is designed to help newcomers and their families settle in their school and community. SWIS workers provide information on services available, conduct orientation workshops, assist in filling out forms for services, provide referrals to services and community resources, help in the adjustment and transition process, and provide culturally sensitive services.  SWIS workers can provide support in the many languages, including but not limited to: Arabic, Cantonese, Farsi, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

In addition to SWIS Workers, there are people available to help your children in school:

School Principals and Vice Principals (Administrators) as leaders within schools, ensure that students are provided with the support they need and that the school is a welcoming place for all students and their families. Administrators are happy and willing to meet with families to discuss the best options for your needs. You can find their contact information on the school website, or call to make an appointment to meet with them.

Counsellors can assist with information and support in understanding the emotional needs of students and can assist with referral to youth mental health services and other community support agencies. In elementary schools, parents are required to sign a consent form for their child to utilize these services; in high school, students can see counsellors if they feel they will benefit from these services. If you feel that your child would benefit from these services, contact your school and ask for more information.

Teachers can have a positive impact as soon as children and youth arrive by establishing and maintaining a positive, welcoming classroom climate. It is a good idea to make an appointment to meet the teacher, understand what the expectations of the classroom are, and let them know of any questions or concerns that you have. You should receive a welcome email or letter once your student arrives to the classroom.

English Language Learning (ELL) Specialist Teachers along with classroom teachers, can play a significant role in helping children and youth learn English, adjust to a new way of life, and achieve success in school. Students are often pulled from the classroom for short periods of time to meet with other ELL students to learn the nuances of language and culture in Canada.

Learning Support Teachers provide classroom teachers with teaching strategies, behaviour management support, and assistance with adaptation and modification of materials required for successful learning of the student. If your student needs adaptations, you will be invited to meet with the Learning Support Teacher to discuss what is recommended, and be invited to give feedback to the process.

If you have any questions about your child’s education and the school supports available, please know that you simply need to talk to any of the above people for more information. You can also find many answers to your questions about education and childcare here on our website: