What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a written plan that describes special education programs, supports and services for a student that has different learning needs that may not be supported in the classroom.

Your child’s classroom teacher may bring this to your attention early in the school year if they notice your child is struggling in a particular area of study. You are also allowed to ask if an IEP is needed.

In the Ontario school system, it is appropriate and expected that parents and teachers talk about things that come up during the school year both academically and personally; think of yourself as part of the success support team for your child.

When does a student need an IEP?

Every student learns differently. Some students need more support than others. Your child might be really struggling in math but doing very well in other subjects. Your child might be bored and find school work too easy. Most of the time an IEP is considered for students that need support with one or more of these areas of exceptionalities:

  • behaviour
  • communication
  • intellectual
  • physical

What should be included in an IEP?

All IEPs must comply with Ministry requirements that are set out in the Ontario Education Act Regulation 181/98. The IEP is based on a student’s learning profile of strengths and areas for growth. Most students will not need one. The IEP is usually created together with the classroom and resource teacher and the student’s caregiver, and when appropriate a student in high school will be included in their own IEP creation.

When an IEP is being created it is often helpful to share any relevant medical or health information about the student. You may wish to share information from medical, educational or psychological assessments that have been completed in the past that may support the need for the IEP. The more information the school has the better they can tailor the IEP for the student. If your child has not been formally assessed by a doctor or psychologist you can ask the school or their health care provider for guidance on where to start.

What can I do if my child’s IEP is not followed?

If the IEP is not being followed in your child’s classes, first talk with the classroom teacher or special education teacher that works at the school. There may be some classes where the IEP was not included and you may need to ask for them to consider adding it in.

If the teachers are not able to help you, the next step is contacting the school administrators, often the principal will be the appropriate person to discuss this with. If your child’s needs are still not being met you can escalate your concerns starting with your School Board Trustee.

The School Board Trustees are elected to the school board during municipal elections. They represent the interests of families and students in their area. Trustees work to ensure equity across their school boards so that every student has the opportunity to succeed regardless of background, identity or personal circumstances.

For More Information

  • Assistive Devices Program - If you have a long-term physical disability, you can get help paying for equipment and supplies when you qualify for the Assistive Devices Program. From the Ontario Government.
  • People For Education - A parent-led organization working to support public education in Ontario's English, French, and Catholic schools.
  • Special Education in Ontario - Kindergarten to Grade 12 Policy and Resource Guide from the Ministry of Education.
Last updated: December 8, 2021 4006505