Surrey students struggling to learn: Report

32% of children considered 'vulnerable,' with the greatest deficit in communication skills.

Kindergarten-aged kids in Surrey are having difficulty learning

The number of young people struggling with learning in Surrey is high and growing by the year, according to a recent report.

The study, conducted by Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) examined kindergarten children over two school years from 2009-2011. Factors examined include physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language, and cognitive ability and communication.

Provincewide, the rate of “vulnerable learners” was 30.9 per cent, while the average in Surrey was 32 per cent – up from 28 per cent in 2007-2009.

The greatest vulnerability in Surrey was that of communication skills, which was worse in communities such as Newton and Whalley, where there are typically more ESL students, according to the report.

Crescent Beach had the lowest overall learning vulnerability, at 10 per cent, while Kennedy Trail in North Surrey took the most vulnerable spot at 54 per cent.

Chief Librarian Melanie Houlden said Wednesday the UBC study team is trying to drill down to the cause for the differences in each neighbourhoods.

The report is being released by Surrey libraries in conjunction with Literacy Day, which is this Saturday (Sept. 8).

Houlden is encouraging all Surrey residents to drop by one of many local libraries and get themselves a library card.

Surrey libraries remain one of the city’s best kept secrets, where services and book loans come at no cost, she said. This is the first time Surrey libraries is marking Literacy Day.

“Next year, we’re anticipating we’re going to make a much larger deal about the whole thing, that we will have larger events and celebrations and so on,” Houlden said.

Houlden said she follows the HELP reports closely, using them as a guide for staffing and programs at the libraries.

The libraries are now involved in outreach, where librarians go to refugee assistance centres, daycares, StrongStart programs and other places where vulnerable kids are.

“Outreach is a huge part of what we do,” Houlden said. “In fact, that’s probably the only way to truly reach that target audience.”

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