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Meet Your School-Based Education Support Services Team


Every school has a School-Based Education Support Services Team (ESST).   This team is led by the school principal.  Their role is to assist classroom teachers in developing and implementing instructional strategies and behavior management strategies for students.  They also coordinate support resources for students. The ESST members include: 


  • Principal: provides leadership to the team. 
  • Resource Teacher: a specialist teacher with experience in learning exceptionalities. 
  • School Counsellor: a teacher who is also a counsellor and has a background in mental health. 
  • Child and Youth Team Member: Each school-based ESST has one member from an Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Team.  This may be a counsellor, social worker, psychologist, or other professional.  This person keeps the school-based ESST connected with Addictions & Mental Health services provided by Horizon Health Network. 
  • The vice principal, classroom teachers, teachers with specializations such as literacy, autism, or numeracy, or other staff with specialized skill sets may be part of the team. 


School-Based Education Support Services Teams are supported by the District-Based Education Support Services Team which provides additional expertise and training. School-based ESSTs request support from the district-based ESST as needed. 


If your student has additional educational needs—whether they are medical, mental health, or learning needs—your school’s Education Support Services Team is there to ensure those needs are met.  To begin the conversation about your child’s additional educational needs, please contact your child’s teacher, resource teacher, school counsellor, or principal. 


​​Frequently Asked Questions

My child is in Grade 1 and hasn’t met all the outcomes. Should I have my child repeat the grade? 

 Although there was a time when retaining students (or “failing the year”) was common, years of educational research has determined that this is an ineffective and potentially harmful approach that does little to support students.   


 Likewise, social promotion, which would occur when students were advanced to the next grade level with their peers without consideration to their specific learning needs, also did not support student success.


The best practice approach for supporting students is neither retention nor social promotion.  Instead, research tells us that the most effective, best outcomes for students happen when they advance to the next grade with their peers and have supports in place to help them in the areas in which they were struggling. This is the best practice supported by research and it is the practice promoted in Anglophone South School District. 


Parents and guardians who are concerned about the best way to support a student who is struggling should begin the conversation with their child’s classroom teacher or resource teacher. 


Further reading on best practices to support students without retention or social promotion can be found with the National Association of School Psychologists and at the links below. 


 I think my child may have a learning disability.  Should we have a psychologist do an assessment? 

 Although psychological assessments can be helpful when students have complex learning needs, most students can be well supported by their schools without one. 


In many cases, a psychological assessment does not provide information that the teacher does not already have through working with the student. For example, a learning plan for a student may be the same whether it is based on the teacher knowing the student is a “struggling reader” or if it based on a psychologist diagnosing the student with a “specific learning disorder with impairment in reading.”  Teachers will always use best practices to address learning challenges, with or without a psychological assessment. 


In the past, certain students would receive  alternate teaching strategies, such as extra time to read a text or a short break during a test.  These are now considered universal accommodations, meaning they are not special strategies a teacher has to put in place, but just good teaching practices. 


Schools can provide some educational assessments to help develop the learning plan for a student without making a referral to a psychologist.  Resource teachers can do educational assessments of reading and math skills, for example, without seeking more intensive assessment from a psychologist. 


Even with all the support that can be provided at the school level, schools will sometimes decide that a student will benefit from a more comprehensive psychological assessment.  In those cases, after the school and the parents have discussed this option, the school can make a request for service to the Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) Child and Youth Team.  The Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) Child and Youth Team will collaborate with the school to determine an appropriate response (e.g., request for data, recommendations for interventions, consultation, or assessment.)   Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams​


If you believe your student’s learning plan may benefit from a psychological assessment, beyond what the school is able to provide, the first step is to have that conversation with your student’s resource teacher.     


 What does a School-based Speech-Language Pathologist do?

​Speech-laguage pathologists, or SLPs, collaborate with teachers and caregivers to help support curriculum objectives for students. They identify underlying speech, lanugage or communications needs and work closely with school teams to create learning plans that help students' reading, writing, speaking and listening. Learn more here in this video​ from the NB Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.

I had a meeting with my child’s teacher and she spoke about “ISD.”  What is ISD? 


Integrated Service Delivery, or ISD, is the partnership between Education, Addictions & Mental Health, Social Development, and Public Safety to coordinate services that are provided to children and youth.  


An important component of ISD are the nine Child and Youth Teams located throughout Saint John region, from St. Stephen to Sussex.  These teams are managed by Addictions & Mental Health, have staff from Addictions & Mental Health as well as Education, and are closely connected to Social Development. 


If you believe your child or youth could benefit from services offered by an ISD Child and Youth team, you may discuss it with your school counsellor or contact the team directly at one of the following numbers:  

·         Charlotte County:  506-466-7380 

·         Saint John:  506-658-3737 

·         Sussex:  506-432-2217 


 Information about the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams may be found here:

 Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams​

My child is experiencing anxiety.  What should we do? 

 Anxiety is normal and a common experience for everyone.  It is natural for a student to feel some anxiety about things such tests, public speaking, sports, or arts performances.  


As parents and educators, we do not want to shield students from all anxiety because we know that will not prepare them to function as adults.  We want our children to grow into adults who are able to handle strong feelings, including anxiety.  To do that, we must teach them skills to manage anxiety, not deny them experiences to develop those skills. 


It is important for parents and educators to help children and youth understand that experiencing anxiety is normal.  It is also important to help them understand that anxiety leads to a choice between coping and avoidance.  When we help students develop coping skills, they are able to manage themselves in situations which naturally cause anxiety.  In fact, most people who have success in stressful situations—tests, arts performances, sports—use their feeling of anxiety to improve their performance. 


If we frequently allow students to avoid stress, we deny them the opportunities to build skills which are needed to function as a well-adjusted adult and to build the resilience needed to cope with life’s challenges.  Ultimately, avoidance reinforces anxiety. 


Sometimes anxiety will be very specific, such as certain classes, locations, or people.  For example, a student may be anxious only about gym class, taking the school bus, or specific peers   It is essential for parents and teachers to talk with the student about the cause of the anxiety. 


If a student is experiencing anxiety and it seems to be beyond your child’s ability to manage and your ability to help, the first point of contact at the school should be your child’s teacher or school counsellor.   


The teacher and school counsellor can make short-term adjustments to your child’s learning plan while they help them develop stronger skills.  For example, a student who is highly anxious about a class presentation, may on this occasion, be given the option to present to just the teacher and a small group of friends rather than the entire class; at the same time, the counsellor would work with the student on strategies such as breathing and focusing to enhance the student’s ability to manage the anxiety.  Generally, even when the anxiety seems unmanageable, the student will be able to develop skills to move forward without anxiety being a barrier to achievement. 


Occasionally, a student will have anxiety so severe it interferes with daily tasks, like attending school.  In these cases, students may need to see a counsellor to develop stronger skills to master the situations causing anxiety.  Even in this case, avoidance is not a solution. 


If you are concerned that your student is regularly experiencing severe anxiety that is affecting multiple daily tasks, you should speak to your student’s teacher or school counsellor.  If the counsellor is unable to provide the level of support your child needs, they may make a request for service to the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Team.  The Child and Youth Team is a team of mental health and education professionals that provide more intensive mental health services to students than the school staff provide.   


Regardless of who is providing the service to your child, there will always be a role for families in supporting students struggling with anxiety.  School, families, and counsellors must work in partnership to ensure the student develops the necessary skills to be successful at school and in life.  


Parents of students who are experiencing anxiety may find helpful information in the following links. 



Information about the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams may be found here:


 ​​What services do the school guidance counsellors provide? 

 School guidance counsellors have specialized training which other teachers do not have.  School counsellors have completed a graduate degree in counselling, similar to the training which counsellors in mental health settings have.  A teacher in a guidance role who does not have this training is called a guidance teacher. 


School counsellors are responsible for implementing the Comprehensive and Developmental School Counselling Program.  This program has four parts: the guidance curriculum, individual planning, responsive services, and program support.   


  1. Guidance Curriculum 
    • Your child may see the school counsellor in class teaching lessons on career preparation, character education, or mental health. 
  2. Individual Planning
    • The school counsellor will work with other teachers and parents to develop plans for students. At high school, this includes working with students on post-secondary planning.   
  3. Responsive Services
    • School counsellors offer many counselling services, including personal counselling, crisis counselling, career counselling, and group counselling.  
    • Guidance teachers do not offer counselling services, though they may support students in other ways, such as providing information, advocating for the student, or teaching skills. 
  4. Program Support
    • The school counsellor will be involved in special events at the school, such as information about post-secondary and career options. 


School counsellors are available to help students with personal issues, mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, conflict with peers and parents, social skills, career and post-secondary planning, and general strategies to improve resilience and well-being.  School counsellors are also able to refer students with more complex mental health needs, such as trauma or a mental health disorder, to the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Team, where a more specialized counsellor can work with the student. 


Information about the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams may be found here:

 Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams


My child has extra needs.  Shouldn’t they have an Education Assistant (EA)? 


Educational assistants (EAs) have a vital role in our inclusive school system.  They provide valuable services in helping ensure students can attend school and in creating a safe, positive learning environment.  Schools depend on the work of these paraprofessionals each day to provide quality education to their students. 


Though educational assistants can have a number of roles, they are allocated to schools based on student needs for medical care, personal care, and safety concerns. They may also, under the direction and supervision of a teacher, assist students with learning needs.   


In assessing whether a student needs the support of an educational assistant, the school will evaluate the needs of the student and review the resources and strategies available to meet those needs. Assistance from an EA may be one option to support a student, but there may also be other supports or interventions that can be put in place to best meet the educational needs of student.  It should be remembered that the student’s teacher is always the individual with the primary responsibility for the education of the student. 


If a student does require an EA,  the school will also include in the student’s personalized learning plan (PLP) a goal to increase independence as much as possible so that the student may rely less on EA support as they progress through their education.


If you are concerned about any needs which your child may have, the first point of contact should be your child’s teacher or resource teacher.  The teachers will work with you to meet the child’s needs, and they may bring in other professionals from the school’s Education Support Services Team (ESST).  Please remember that support of an EA may or may not be part of the plan developed to meet the student’s needs. 


​A professional outside the education system told me my child should have an Education Assistant (EA).  Why isn’t the school doing that?   


It is always the educators—teachers, principals, school counsellors, resource teachers—who are responsible for the education plan for a student.  However, these school-based professionals will always take input from non-educational professionals when making educational decisions. 


Often, when a student’s needs are complex, it takes a team of professionals with varied backgrounds to get a complete picture of the student’s needs.  This may include medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, or other professionals.


However, the educators--teachers, principals, school counsellors, resource teachers--are best equipped to assign school-based interventions and supports to address the educational needs of students, based on the information from the school, parents, and other professionals. School teams have various resources and strategies available to develop the best educational plan possible for a student.


For example, a physician consulting on an educational plan for a student may outline concerns from a medical perspective and suggest the services of an education assistant as an educational intervention to address those concerns. However, the school team may well be able to address the physician’s concerns with other interventions or school supports.  This can be confusing for parents if they expect the school to act on the doctor’s educational recommendation instead of developing a plan with input from all professionals involved.  It is always the educators who are responsible for the education plan for a student. 


If you have an educational recommendation from a professional outside education, please bring that recommendation to your child’s teacher, counsellor, or resource teacher.  Please know that the school team will take input from outside professionals, often inviting the professionals to attend meetings at the school, and will use their assessment of the student’s concerns to make the best educational plan possible for the student.  Please remember, however, that not every recommendation from a professional outside education will be implemented. 


​I’ve just moved to New Brunswick and learned that the school system is “inclusive.” What is inclusion? 


In New Brunswick, all schools take an inclusive approach to education.  This is a philosophy that all students attend their neighbourhood schools with their peers. This philosophy is based on the values that all students have a right to belong, a right to be respected, a right to develop to their potential, a right to attend their neighbourhood school, and a right to be part of their community. 


Inclusion is also a set of teaching practices, such as Universal Design for Learning, which allows students to participate in a common learning environment.  Inclusion also extends beyond the classroom setting to school activities and allowing students to be a part of their school community. 


This philosophy and approach may be different than some other educational jurisdictions in that all students are included in the school and classroom as much as possible and students with extra needs spend far less time in separate learning environments.  There are no segregated programs, classes or schools in our system, with the exception of alternate education programs available to  high school students. 


If you have a concern about how your student is being included in school, you should bring your concern to your student’s teacher or resource teacher. 


Further information about inclusion and Universal Design for Learning can be found at the following links: 


A student in my child’s class has been making threatening comments, and I’ve seen the same student post threats online.  How do I know my child is safe? 


The most important responsibility of everyone in the school community—including parents and students—is to inform the school principal of threats of violence or suspicions about potential violent behaviour.  Often this may be something a parent or student sees online through social media.  


New Brunswick schools use a model of threat assessment called Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) developed by the North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response.  All school principals and school counsellors are trained in this multidisciplinary model and work closely with local police and the Integrated Service Delivery Child and Youth Teams to assess threats of violence in our schools and to implement appropriate intervention plans. 


If you become aware of a possible threat of violence, please contact your school principal, vice principal, or local police service as soon as possible.  If you see something, say something.  And we’ll do something. 


For further information on Violence Threat Risk Assessment, please see the following links: 




My child doesn’t want to go to school and seems anxious.  Is it okay if I just keep my child home sometimes? 


Parents always want to do the best thing for their children, and no parent likes to see their children struggle with anxiety about attending school.  However, when students begin staying home, especially in the early grades, they run the risk of developing a behaviour known as school refusal (sometimes called school avoidance).   


School refusal usually starts in small ways, with a student staying home occasionally, often complaining of anxiety. If this continues, the behaviour will often escalate into a situation in which the student is refusing to attend school at all.  The more time the student misses, the greater the loss of learning for the student, and the more difficult re-entry to school becomes. 


Because of the risks associated with a student developing school refusal, we encourage parents to send the student to school unless there is clear evidence of physical illness (e.g., fever, vomiting).  General complaints of uneasiness, stomach complaints, or stated reasons for avoidance (such as “I don’t like gym class”) should not be reasons to miss school. 


If a student has continued physical symptoms, such as stomach complaints, a visit to the doctor is always a good idea.  It is important for parents, however, to also bring concerns to the school, where teachers and counsellors have training to help support students to attend school.  Sometimes the concern is anxiety, in which case the school team can take steps to adjust the situations which are causing anxiety and help the student learn skills to manage anxiety.  Sometimes the student has found activities which are preferable to going to school, such as staying home with a caregiver.  In either case, the school team can help.


Parents will always have a key role in helping the student return to school and maintain good attendance.  The most effective approach is always prevention, so it important that parents of students of all ages are vigilant against school refusal. 


If your student seems to be developing school refusal or has consistent complaints about school attendance, you should speak to your student’s teacher or school counsellor. 


For more information on school refusal, please see the following links. 



 Quick Links


  • NaviCare/SoinsNavi is a research-based navigation centre for children/youth aged 25 years or younger with complex care needs and their families in New Brunswick. This service is free for families and health care providers

  • CHIMO Helpline is a provincial crisis phone line, accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to all residents of New Brunswick​: 1-800-667-5005

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868