Consultation on the new Provincial Education Plan has begun in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division. At their regular meeting on Monday, the board of education was provided an update on the development of the new plan and was shown feedback and a section of the plan as a whole.
The Provincial Education Plan (PEP) implementation team has asked for feedback from organizations on three draft plans. The draft interim priority plans will outline education policy at the provincial level, not at the classroom or school level, and will be implemented for the 2021-2022 school year. The interim plans are set to guide the system for the next year while the next PEP is completed.
Feedback forms contains a brief description of each plan along with timelines and other items such as how the feedback will be used. The three draft interim priority plans put forward by the province are a draft mental health and well being plan, draft learning response plan and draft learning response-reading plan. The feedback forms were included at School Community Council meetings earlier.
Director of education Lorel Trumier told trustees that stakeholder feedback received so far has been submitted and the division will continue to provide responses to the Ministry of Education as they arrive.
“What is going to happen now is the Ministry of Education is collating all of those responses in order to build a priority plan for next year, so that's the stage that is at the provincial level,” Trumier explained.
During the meeting there was an update from superintendent Charity Dmytruk on the learning response for reading section of the interim priority plans in the division. She outlined some resources that exist and some that come from COVID-19 allocation funding.
“We were able to access and purchase some resources that support both remote learning and in-class learning,” Trumier explained.
“Now we are going to work with staff and show them the different teaching and learning opportunities through those resources. There are lots of books for students to read but also some online resources for those books so they can access them at home too and we're excited about that
She added that it is important for divisions to make an effort to support both students and teachers in the classroom with resources.
“A strong set of resources can really make a difference and so we have purchased an assessment system, a literacy continuum. We also have included pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten because we know the journey begins there with reading and writing,” Trumier said.
The province has identified reading as a priority area and the plan is in response to “reading results regressing over the last two years with less face-to-face instructional time due to learning from home and competing priorities associated with the pandemic” according to a memo received by the board.
Resources available in the division are from the Fountas and Pinnell library and include items such as reading assessment tools and literacy continuum for areas such as literature discussions, shared reading and word study. Grades covered in the supports are all the way from Kindergarten to Grade 8.
Dmytruk told the trustees that the lessons flow from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8 and support the concepts in the PEP.
“ The real key piece there is that it builds upon the skills learned and then keeps that student moving forward,” Dmytruk said.
Trumier explained that the resources are part of the way the division operates philosophically.
“ We know that school is a language-based activity and if we are not intentional about building language, students will not have the opportunity to really absorb the concepts,” she said.
One example of learning words favoured by Trumier is the word metamorphosis and how understanding what a word means can help you learn to use it.
“We are taking a very intentional approach, whether it is in pre-K, Grade 5, Grade 8, Grade 10 and Grade 12, to build language first and have understandings of that language and concept so that those pieces are not foreign. We teach children the concept of what metamorphosis is. And I think that has proven to be very successful, we know that it is one of the main basic underpinnings about French Immersion programs for example, you have got to build the background language first,” Trumier said.
According to Trumier, learning to read and write and learning to walk and talk are similar in that we learn them at our own pace.
“It doesn't mean we can't, it just means we are going to do it differently and at different paces. So we know as we enter the year ahead of us one of the priorities for our school division will be looking at where children are in the continuum of learning and working to have them grow and learn to the next stages that they need to. So this was our intent with purchasing these materials and preparing for the year ahead and also making a difference now,” Trumier said.
After a question about expansion outside of school Dmytruk explained that there is also work being done outside of classrooms but the outline was of what was being done in schools. There is currently a home reading program, Dmytruk said.
There will now also be an opportunity to meet with Dmytruk to see the resources and many trustees were interested in the possibility.
The provincial-level plan is expected to be released in June 2021.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald