Ministry of Education
Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch


Learning Disability:

The Ministry of Education defines learning disability as one of a number of neurodevelopmental disorders that persistently and significantly has an impact on the ability to learn and use academic and other skills and that:

  • affects the ability to perceive or process verbal or non-verbal information in an effective and accurate manner in students who have assessed intellectual abilities that are at least in the average range;
  • results in (a) academic underachievement that is inconsistent with the intellectual abilities of the student (which are at least in the average range) and/or (b) academic achievement that can be maintained by the student only with extremely high levels of effort and/or with additional support;
  • results in difficulties in the development and use of skills in one or more of the following areas: reading, writing, mathematics, and work habits and learning skills;
  • may typically be associated with difficulties in one or more cognitive processes, such as phonological processing; memory and attention; processing speed; perceptual-motor processing; visual-spatial processing; executive functions (e.g., self-regulation of behaviour and emotions, planning, organizing of thoughts and activities, prioritizing, decision making);
  • may be associated with difficulties in social interaction (e.g., difficulty in understanding social norms or the point of view of others); with various other conditions or disorders, diagnosed or undiagnosed; or with other exceptionalities;
  • is not the result of a lack of acuity in hearing and/or vision that has not been corrected; intellectual disabilities; socio-economic factors; cultural differences; lack of proficiency in the language of instruction; lack of motivation or effort; gaps in school attendance or inadequate opportunity to benefit from instruction.

Not In Need of Treatment:

Provincial Demonstration Schools are not designed for students who present with severe emotional or behavioural issues e.g.:

  • Assaultive behaviours towards self or others
  • Behaviours that endanger, or present risk to self or others
  • Major psychiatric disorders

The schools are not an alternative to treatment programs provided by Children’s Mental Health Centres, nor do they provide placements which attempt to circumvent chronic family and community dysfunction.

In Need of A Residential Education Program means that a pupil…

  • Has met the criteria for a severe learning disability in the opinion of the Provincial Committee on Learning Disabilities;
  • Has exhausted the resources of a school board’s program in its ability to meet the needs of the pupil;
  • Requires a residential program to assist with the development of personal life and learning strategies to overcome or limit the effect of severe learning disabilities; and
  • Is not in need of treatment for a severe emotional or behavioural disorder.