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Equal Access to Value-Based Education Experiences

Resolution Number: 2011-04
Submitted by: Merritt E. Callaghan Home and School Association

WHEREAS after the Minister's Summit on Learning in June 2010, there was a clear and widespread understanding among participants that the traditional learning model requites some modification to adapt to the changing social and economic context in which Islanders live, and

WHEREAS of the 3 categories of skills (Learning & Innovation, Literacy and Life/Career) identified as needed to succeed in 21st Century, life skills knowledge is not acquired well in a lecture-based formula and needs community, real-world opportunities that make links between class work with real life/world and career options, and

WHEREAS provision of extension and enrichment activities such as field trips, including exposure to the arts and music, etc. will introduce added value to the project-based learning and integrate content and skill learning, and

WHEREAS many enrichment activities are located in areas of higher urban population, and despite the "One Island" philosophy, travel times and associated expense can be extensive;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the PEIHSF requests PEI School Boards to ensure that all students have equal access to real life/world opportunities regardless of geographic and socio-economic factors of the students or the location of the value-based learning experience.

Status: Passed
Saturday, April 16, 2011

Destination:Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
English Language School Board
French Language School Board

Education and Early Childhood Development:  The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is responsible for the development of provincially authorized curriculum and programs for use in Prince Edward Island schools.  We are pleased that our curriculum and programs, along with supporting students and teacher resources, are accessible and available to all schools in the Province.  School boards are responsible for ensuring the provincially authorized curriculum is delivered to students.  School boards and schools do have some choice regarding which programs they offer to their students.

The flexibility of the curriculum allows students to learn in their communities, and to become aware of the influence of their communities on their lives.  A range of life and learning experiences are available in all Island communities, and are as unique as each community itself.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is working to find ways to encourage and recognize additional forms of learning for students:

  • A new grade ten course, Career Explorations and Opportunitieis, will be fully implemented in all schools in September, 2011.  This course supports students as they become lifelong learners, knowledge creators, and problem solvers who are informed and well equipped to live and work effectively in a global, innovation world.
  • The Department is working towards flexible scheduling options for students, which may expand the boundaries of learning time and space.  For example, summer learning oportunities allow students to create more flexibility in their regular high school schedules by completing a credit outside of the traditional school calendar.
  • Students who choose to participate in cooperative education are able to engage in an increasingly wide variety of sector placements such as aerospace, bioscience, finance, health care, information technology, and the skilled trades.
  • The recently issued External Credentialing Minister's Directive will provide greater flexibility in meeting graduation requirements by providing high school credit to students who have completed recognized courses of study external to the public school sytem.
  • The growth of e-learning will provide more opportunitiies for students to learn through distance learning.

We look forward to the continued support of the Prince Edward island Home and School Federation as we strive to expand learning opportunities for all Island students.

Eastern School District:  The Eastern School District recognizes that valuable educational experiences can and do occur outside the  classroom.  We encourage curriculum-related field trips, participation in extra curricular sports, various festivals, science and heritage fairds, drama, and much more.  We have always strived to give all students equal access to these, regardless of geographick and/or socio-economic factors.

We believe strongly that for some events the decisonis to attend must reside with the Superintendnet and/or Principal of the school.  Factors such as time out of the classroom versus the educational value of the event must be considered.  Administrators have to decide if attending a one-hour event which keeps students out of the classroom for most or all of a day has the educatinal value to suppot attending.  For example, occasionally a decision may have to be made as to whether an event outside the classroom is curriclulum related or simply entertainment.

However, we feel good decisions are being made that do not deprive students of educational opportunities outside the classroom – regardless of geographic location.  We ahve travel budgets for schools that reflect their geographic location and every effort is makde to grant requests that schools make to attend events.

Western School Board:  There was a similar resolution in 2010 – Resolution 5/10 Equal Access to Extra Curricular Activities.  Here was the response:

As we have indicated in the past, there is no question that educational experiences may occur outside the classroom and occur in a variety of venues and though a variety of activities.  In fact, all schools regularly include such experiences as an integral component of their programs.

The issue is not access based on geographic locaiton of the school and the proosed event as much as the type of activity and its relative worth in comparison to the amount of time missing from classroom instruction.  In terms of approving participation by students and staff in such events and activities, the Superintendent / Director / Principal is expected to make his/her decision on the educational value of said activity, the amount of instructional time lost to allow participation in the event, and, as part of this decision an assessment of whether it is an educational experience connected to learning outcomes or merely entertainment.  As you point out in your resolutions, our focus needs to be increased student achievement for all learners; therefore, proposed field trips and excursions must be viewed through that lens.

We have schools that would be goegraphically distant from a number of activities within our own Board or in other parts of the Province; for example, we routinely see schools from all areas of the board participate in events and activities at many locations both near and far  (ex. Tignish, Summerside, Charlottetown, Eastern PEI, and inclduing off-Island).  These trips occur on a regular basis.  The approval is based on their educational merit, not distance.