UCDSB to review French Immersion

·2 min read

BROCKVILLE – Enrolment trends at the area’s largest English-language school board secondary schools prompted a review of French language programming.

Trustees at the Upper Canada District School Board voted April 13 to review its French Immersion programming.

Trustee William MacPherson (Ward Two) tabled the motion saying he has observed declining FI enrolment further into secondary school programming.

“French is a little different than math in that it is not equal across the board. What is successful in Prescott-Russell is less of a success in Lanark,” MacPherson said.

Calling the move of students from small rural schools to attend French Immersion programming an “exodus”, he estimated that only 10 per cent of those students graduate secondary school with a French language certificate.

MacPherson told trustees he wants to see how existing FI programming and Core-French programming can be enhanced for different areas of the board.

The UCDSB currently offers dual-track FI programming in most secondary schools, and extended French programming in the remaining schools. Thirty-five of the boards 53 elementary schools offer FI or duel-track programming.

Trustee Donald Cram (Ward One) agreed with the review.

“As a former principal of a school, there is a mass exodus [from FI] at the end of Grade 8,” he told the board. “There is another at Grade 10. I think we need to look at our programming, enhance it, and make it more viable for more students right through to Grade 12.”

At senior grades in many UCDSB schools, there is a drop in FI enrolment due to course selection options. Enrolment numbers dictate what courses are offered each school year meaning students often do not have a language option for courses.

Cram mused that the board may have to look at curtailing FI at the end of Grade 8. “I think we really need to look at our whole French Immersion delivery program.”

The program review will be conducted by Director of Education Ron Ferguson, who will report to the board in January 2023. UCDSB trustees last reviewed French language programming at the board in the 2013-14 school year.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader

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