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Inclusive Education and Special Needs in British Columbia

There have been significant changes to the composition of students with special needs in BC's public schools.

Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, students with special needs made up a relatively constant one-tenth of the total student population. However, the way students with special needs break down by category has changed dramatically. The largest change is in the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder, which now has close to 6.5 times the number of students than it had in 2000–01.

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The other categories also saw significant changes. Physical Disability/Chronic Health Impairment saw a 84% increase. Gifted and Moderate Behaviour Support/Mental Illness, two categories that no longer receive funding, declined by 69% and 53%, respectively.


There were drastic cuts to specialist teaching positions in British Columbia between 2000–01 and 2016–17.2

Close to a quarter of special education teachers were lost between 2000–01 and 2016–17. As a result, in 2016–17 there were on average 2.6 more students with special needs per special education teacher than in 2000–01.

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However, in large part due to the efforts of teachers, the graduation rate for students with special needs has almost doubled.


Between 2000–01 and 2015–16, the six-year Dogwood completion rates for students with special needs, excluding the gifted category, has increased from 33.4% to 66.2%. This is an increase of about 98%.


1 BC Ministry of Education. (2004–17). Student Statistics – (Various Years) Province - Public and Independent Schools Combined. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.

2 BC Ministry of Education. (2016). Staff by Year, 1997/1998 - 2015/16 (source: Form 1530). Victoria: Government of British Columbia
Analysis and Reporting Unit, Ministry of Education. (2017). BC Schools – Teacher Statistics. Retrieved from catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset/bc-schools-teacher-statistics.

3 Analysis and Reporting Unit, Ministry of Education. (2017). BC Schools – Six Year Completion Rate. Retrieved from catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset/bc-schools-six-year-completion-rate.

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