Reimagining inclusive and special education in the Yukon

  • The redesigned school curriculum
  • How are we responding to the findings of the reviews?
  • How will we make changes?
  • When to expect changes
  • How are we working together?

The Yukon's current education system is not always meeting the needs of all students – particularly First Nations students, rural students and students with special needs. This can have devastating consequences. That's what we learned from:

  1. The redesigned school curriculum

    The Government of Yukon introduced a redesigned school curriculum and student assessment practices in the 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20 school years. It was a significant step in transforming the Yukon’s education system to be more student-centred.

    The redesigned school curriculum creates more flexibility for engaging learning connected to:

    • a student’s personal interests;
    • the history and culture of their community; and
    • Yukon First Nation ways of knowing, doing and being.

    The redesigned school curriculum set the foundation for students to be "living in the Yukon and thriving in life". It encourages learning connected to the Yukon’s northern and Yukon First Nations context.

    Using the new, student-centred curriculum as a foundation, our next step is to address the findings of the reports. We know what the issues are and now our focus is on action. 

  2. How are we responding to the findings of the reviews?

    The Government of Yukon has accepted the findings of all 3 reports. We've found similar themes and findings in each report.

    We've established 8 working groups called communities of inquiry to do the work. They're working on the 8 specific topics, which were identified with members of the First Nation Education Commission and the Advisory Committee for Yukon Education: 

    • Co-constructing definitions of inclusive and special education.
    • Updating inclusive and special education policies.
    • Exploring effective professional development.
    • Establishing values and norms for engaging across differences.
    • Implementing consistent individualized learning plan processes.
    • Creating holistic supports for students and families.
    • Aligning budgets, funding models and staffing allocations with student needs.
    • Providing outdoor, experiential learning as a way of teaching students with learning differences.

  3. How will we make changes?

    The communities of inquiry are following the spiral of inquiry process. Many school board and districts across Canada use this process when they make a change. The spiral of inquiry sounds complicated but it is not. It's a way to work together to make evidence-based decisions about what action to take to best support students and make sure we're achieving the desired result.

    The spiral of inquiry starts with questions about what's happening for students. We identify challenges. Then we can develop a solution that'll make our education system better for all students.

    In the spiral of inquiry, we have to:

    • work together as a group; and
    • listen to different voices from across the education system.

    No individual person has the answers. In this process, everyone's a learner. Our goal is to understand the root cause of what's happening for students. Then we develop creative solutions to improve school for them. Afterwards, we check to see if those solutions are working.

    The spiral of inquiry has 6 phases

    1. Scan to see what's happening around us

    The working group collects evidence about what's happening for learners. It will help decisions about where to go next. Dr. Yee's review of inclusive and special education was 1 part of the scan phase. Dr. Yee learned what's happening for our learners by listening to their experiences. 

    2. Focus on a specific area

    The working group focuses their efforts on a specific area. They'll focus on where they can make the biggest difference for learners. 

    3. Develop a hunch

    Each working group will "develop a hunch" finding new solutions to old problems. 

    4. Engage in new learning

    They'll "engage in new learning" by doing research to help find the best way to put their solution into action.

    5. Take action

    Once they have an idea for change, we'll, as a system, "take action" by implementing the proposed change.

    6. Check for impact

    Once we've implemented a change, we'll check to see if it's improving school for students. If it's improving student success, we'll continue to follow the new process. If it is not, we'll start the spiral inquiry again to make more improvements.

    Learn more about the spiral of inquiry.

  4. When to expect changes

    We know what the issues are. We know we need to act now to make meaningful change for students. We'll implement some changes by the 2022–23 school year. Bigger changes will take time, extending our work into the 2023–24 school year.

    The communities of inquiry process timeline:

    Timeframe          Activity
    January to February 2022 


    Each working group is: 

    • Reviewing the Final Report on Inclusive and Special Education.
    • Identifying the right information to focus on for their group. 
    • Starting research on their topic.
    • Starting outreach with school staff, First Nations education staff, community groups and others. 

    February to March 2022 




    • Working groups have their initial focus. It's based on their research, outreach and information gathering. 
    • They're starting to zero in on the actions that will have the biggest impact. 
    • Some groups may take longer because they're tackling bigger topics. For example, the group working on a more holistic. support system may take longer. It involves working with many governments, partners and stakeholder groups. 
    March to April 2022

    Develop a hunch 

    • Working groups have developed a hunch about what's leading to issues for our students. 
    • They've identified how we are contributing to those issues systemically. 
    April to May 2022


    • Working groups have identified what we need to learn to make changes for students. 
    • They may need to do further research or data collection. 

    May to June 2022 


    August to September 2022

    Take action 

    • Many working groups have identified specific actions we can take to make change by this point. 
    • Other working groups have more work to do. They're working through the steps above. 


    July 2022 to July 2024


    • Working groups check that changes are making school better for all students. 
    • They start collecting data to determine if their actions are making enough of a difference. 
    • The length of this phase depends on the types of actions and how best to measure the results. For example, we may need to check data over time to see if changes are working. 
    • The working groups may refine actions based on their findings. Their aim is to keep improving the process for students and families. 

  5. How are we working together?

    We all have a stake in creating a better future for the Yukon's children. To realize the kind of change we're seeking we see the Government of Yukon's Department of Education as part of the circle. We must work together to create change.

    We need the help of:

    • Yukon First Nations representatives;
    • community advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs);
    • partners such as Yukon University and the Early Learning and Child Care Board;
    • parents and students;
    • teachers and staff in our schools; and
    • school council and school board members.

    Each role brings an important perspective to our work. By understanding each other, we'll build the trust we need to work together.

    Communities working together

    Communities of inquiry are how we work together. They include everyone in the work from the start.

    Each community of inquiry is intended to be made up of:

    • Yukon First Nations representatives;
    • advocates and non-governmental organizations in our communities, such as Autism Yukon, Learning Disability Association of Yukon (LDAY), the Child Development Centre and others;
    • parents and guardians;
    • students;
    • front-line school staff;
    • school council members; and
    • central administration staff from the Department of Education.

    Some communities are still looking for representatives. More representatives make sure all voices are at the table.

    Each community will identify actions and next steps on their specific topics. We'll  take bigger, system-wide changes to the First Nation Education Commission and the Advisory Committee for Yukon Education. Their advice and recommendations will help make sure we're taking informed actions that will lead to meaningful change.


If you have any questions or want to get involved email or phone 867-334-6843.