Ministry of Education
Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch


Severe Learning Disabilities are characterized by:

  • Average to above average assessed cognitive ability;
  • Very significant discrepancy between assessed cognitive ability and academic achievement in one or more of the following areas: reading, spelling, written expression, and mathematics. Reading and spelling are usually characterized by severe phonological problems, written expression by grapho-motor difficulties and difficulty in putting thoughts and ideas on paper, and mathematics by difficulties with mathematical concepts. The difference between cognitive ability and academic performance is typically five years or more in each area for secondary age students. Younger students tend to lack basic readiness skills or be functioning at an early primary level in the basic skills;
  • Some or all of the additional characteristics identified in the Ministry of Education and Training’s proposed definitions of learning disabilities

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.