Co-op courses are based on curriculum expectations outlined in ministry curriculum policy documents or in ministry approved locally developed courses.
As co-op programs require a certain skill and maturity level, admission to co-op is generally offered only to students in Grades 11 and 12. In special situations, when it is deemed to be in the best interest of the students involved, students taking courses in Grades 9 and 10 may participate in cooperative education and work experience. Such situations require consultation among community employers and supervisors, parents, and school personnel.
All students must be given the opportunity to develop to their full potential so that they may participate in society with competence, integrity, and dignity. Cooperative education, work experience, and school–work transition programs such as OYAP (Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program) enable many students who have special learning needs to experience a variety of opportunities and to learn more about themselves and the world of work.
Exceptional students and other students who receive special education programs or services require learning experiences that correspond to the abilities, interests, personal goals, strengths, and needs (including the need for specialized services or other accommodations or for modifications to curriculum expectations) that are outlined in their IEPs.
It is essential that educators involved in cooperative education ensure the provision of any accommodations and modifications required to allow exceptional students to achieve their full potential, as described in their IEPs. It should be noted, however, that the modifications made must maintain the integrity of the overall program, in accordance with the intent of this policy document. When planning the cooperative education programs of exceptional students and other students who have IEPs, educators must take the following into account:
- The accommodations described in a student’s IEP must be made available at the placement.
- The employer and supervisor must be made aware of the student’s area of exceptionality and special learning needs. If at all possible, this should be done well before the placement begins.
- The classroom component and the personalized placement learning plan must be modified to meet the student’s needs, as identified in the student’s IEP.
- The teacher, the student, and the placement supervisor should discuss the expectations that are to be achieved.
- Strategies employed in both teaching and placement supervision should be tailored to meet the particular strengths and needs of the exceptional student.
- School boards should ensure that additional supports and resources are provided where necessary. The assistance of additional professional or paraprofessional staff and the use of specialized equipment or facilities may be required.
Board and learning-resource staff, teacher librarians, subject specialists, special education consultants, guidance counsellors, teacher-advisers, and the cooperative education teacher should work together as a team to provide appropriate learning experiences in the community for exceptional students. Special education staff should ensure that cooperative education teachers know where to find information on meeting the needs of exceptional students.
*Cooperative Education and Other Forms of Experiential Learning, Ontario Ministry of Education, 2000