Learning Partners Advisory Council Meeting - July 13, 2017

Location: Inspire Learning Centre, Key Boardroom, 57 Central Street, Summerside, 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm


4:30 - 4:40 Welcome and Introductions

4:40 - 4:50 Review and Approval of Discussion Summary Materials (Meeting 6, April 10, 2017)

4:50 - 5:10 BBQ for Learning Working Group - Update and Discussion

5:10 - 6:10 #LearnDay Working Group - Update and Discussion

6:10 - 6:40 Light Meal

6:40 - 7:30 Update, Work on Consultation Questions – Working Group # 1

7:30 - 8:00 PEI Education and Learning Data / Metrics

8:00 - 8:20 Give and Get

8:20 - 8:30 Closing Remarks / Next Meeting

Discussion Summary

In Attendance:

Co-Chairs: H. Wade MacLauchlan, and Bill Whelan

Members:  Amber Jadis, Anna MacKenzie, Bonnie Stewart, Donald DesRoches, Jackie Charchuk, Jeff Brant, Michelle MacCallum, Peter Rukavina, Rocio MacCallum, Tracy Michael

Ex officio members:  Craig Dalton, Neil Stewart, Susan Willis

Resource:  Wendy MacDonald

Regrets:  Amanda Brazil, Angela Arsenault, Anne Bernard-Bourgeois, Bethany MacKay, Kathleen Flanagan, Lori Johnston, Moira McGuire, Natalie Mitton, Ron MacDonald, Sharon Cameron

1. Welcome and Agenda Review

Co-Chair MacLauchlan welcomed members of the Council, and introduced Craig Dalton to the Council as new ex officio member, having joined the PEI government in May 2017 as deputy minister of the Department of Family and Human Services.

Co-Chair MacLauchlan then reviewed the agenda, noting that Peter Rukavina would be speaking to some concepts re the role of the District Advisory Councils, following his agenda item on the update on the BBQ for Learning. The revised agenda was approved by consensus.

Self-introductions and a quick roundtable on learning involvements and experiences followed. Highlights included the following:

  • Coordinating the Association of Newcomers to PEI’s summer camp, for children in low income newcomer families, serving 45 children a week in the K to Grade 3 age group, offered these past six or seven years at Trinity United Church;
  • Teaching a nine-day intensive course in educational leadership, with a particular emphasis on change management;
  • Preparing for the first annual PEI Film Fest, focusing on film, food, culture, and youth entrepreneurship;
  • Increasing the Community Services Bursary from a $500 maximum to $750, and extending it beyond Grade 11 and 12 youth to include Grade 10;
  • Teaching a food literacy course 2-3 times a week to off-reserve indigenous women;
  • Sponsorship by the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI of an excellent speaker on Collaborative and Practical Solutions;
  • Visiting a new youth bookstore in Summerside, and learning of the increasing diversity in youth reading interests;
  • Bringing the Canada 150 National Tour, “The Power of Ideas,” to PEI, to the UPEI Physics Department October 31-November 1 , offering two days of science activities, with a focus on engaging youth in the Grade 11-12 age range, especially indigenous youth;
  • Orienting and assessing the incoming kindergarten cohort entering school in September;
  • Attending the Special Olympics World Games and learning about the impact that Special Olympics has had on social justice and inclusion in some countries;
  • Working to develop a cultural strategy for the Island, building on the input of Islanders;   
  • Preparing an 18-year-old high school graduate with life skills for a gap year and a trip to Australia;
  • Moving from educational leadership of a rural school to a downtown school;
  • Holding science camps at UPEI for youth aged 10-15, and engaging them in inventing and building things to make life better for their mothers;
  • Reorienting approaches at College de l’Île to be more -learner centred, by assigning point people each responsible for a group of students throughout the various processes of language testing, placement and learning;
  • Developing program content and sessions for the upcoming Institute of Public Administration of Canada national conference being held in Charlottetown August 20-23;
  • Building a deck;
  • Attending a graduation and hearing the talk by the valedictorian, a student who came to Canada from Sri Lanka six years ago.

2. Review of Discussion Notes, April 10 2017 Meeting

The notes of the Council’s Meeting 6, April 10 2017, at Montague Regional High School, were approved by the Council, subject to one edit (consistency of terminology when referring to Co-Chairs.)

3. Update, BBQ for Learning: Working Group # 2

Peter Rukavina reported on the work done to organize the BBQ for Learning agreed upon at the Council’s April 10 meeting.  This task was taken on by the PEI Home and School Federation.  The Lieutenant Governor is a patron of the PEIHSF, thanks to the work of Owen Parkhouse (President 2010-12), and this relationship includes the hosting of one event annually at Fanningbank, Government. The event is planned for July 27, 4:00 to approximately 5:30 p.m., and the invitation list includes approximately 80 people, including Council members, the PEIHSF board, education partners, and a wide range of community partners.  The goals are modest – to enable people to put faces to names and to be more comfortable discussing education issues with each other. A brief written report had been circulated to the Council in advance of the meeting.

4. Ideas for the Evolution of the District Advisory Councils

Peter Rukavina outlined some ideas for the evolution of the District Advisory Councils, for consideration by the group. These ideas and supporting information had been previously circulated to the Council.

He opened with a brief history of the PEI Home and School Federation, for context.  He noted that the Honourable David MacDonald is currently organizing and hosting a series of breakfast seminars on the topic of sustainability, and is using his life experience with Home and School as one jumping-off point for the discussion.  When he began Grade One in 1943, his school had problems with safety, washrooms, etc. His mother’s concerns to the school board were not addressed, and consequently she and other parents organized the School Improvement League and organized a student strike, keeping their children home until some improvements were made. 

Since then, much has changed, but the fundamental priorities of the Home and School – student needs and wellbeing, student learning, infrastructure, resources and supports – continue today.  And Home and School remains deeply rooted in local schools and communities.  Currently, there is a home and school or parent body in 55 of the 56 English schools.  They vary widely in makeup, formality and approach but remain united in their shared goals.  The Federation and its office staff exist to serve the locals, help them thrive, and unite and funnel their voice upwards and outwards.  To illustrate how these roles are carried out, Peter described:

  • A major initiative on healthier food in schools, including a visioning summit, a speaking tour by “Cafeteria Man” Tony Geraci, a soon-to-be-released video, partnerships with local chefs, and a pilot universal school food program now under development;
  • The resolutions process through which local associations bring forward matters of province-wide relevance for discussion and submission to government; and
  • Funding support for formal training of members as Dr. Helen MacDonald Scholars in Facilitation and Collaboration, who in turn provide 30 hours of pro bono services to the Home and School Federation.

Then, Peter noted, in November 2015, a new layer was injected into the governance structure: District Advisory Councils. This has created a new layer of involvement and discussion for Home and School members. Now, almost half a typical HSF provincial board agenda is devoted to discussing DAC-related matters. 

In the earlier stages of the DACs, Peter noted, concerns emerged: there were perceptions that members were reacting, and there was a desire for more agency.  Since then, there have been good discussions, and increased potential is seen for the future of DACs.  To pursue this, Peter outlined four measures which the Home and School federation is proposing, to move from the current consultative model, “Here’s what we’re doing – what do you think?”  towards a collaborative approach – more “What can we do together?”:

  • The operation of the DACs should model collaborative behaviour.
  • PEIHSF will offer the support of the HSF Dr. Helen MacDonald Scholars in Facilitation and Collaboration to DACs to achieve this and to run meetings in an open and positive way.
  • Where not already happening, HSF will encourage DACs to have their meetings chaired or facilitated by someone other than the departmental liaison.
  • HSF will invite DACs to submit resolutions to HSF’s annual and semi-annual meetings, to augment DAC’s day to day communications with government via the departmental liaison. To accommodate this and to address issues in a more timely way, HSF will move to having resolutions meetings twice a year.

As well, Peter noted, HSF will encourage DACs to work with each other.

In this approach, the departmental liaison will continue to play a different role – still important, but with more self-determination by the DACs.

Discussion of these proposals by Council members raised the following points:

Have these ideas gone to the DACs? Peter indicated that the ideas had been developed collectively by the PEIHSF regional director members of the DACs, and will be brought to the DACs next. These measures will not involve legislative or regulatory changes – since the theme is greater agency, HSF will not be directing DACs on how to respond.

It was noted that the question remains of how the LPAC should interact with the DACs. Peter suggested that the DACs could send requests to LPAC, or provide advice, bearing in mind that the DACs are mostly focused on the K-12 system. As well, we need to educate each other on what we do.

Support was expressed for the proposed direction, with collaboration seen as a more positive approach than consultation – leading to joint action, and change.  

It was also noted that the #LearnDay event in September may offer more insights on how the councils can work in concert – it may be the start of a larger collaboration.

5.  Update, #LearnDay Planning:  Working Group # 2

Following supper, Bonnie Stewart, Co-Chair of the #LearnDay Working Group, provided the Council with an update of the planning and proposed approaches for #LearnDay on September 30, 2017, expanding on the information in a previously circulated update - see Working Groups Reports.

The Working Group had met four times to date and is proposing the following approaches:

The program as currently conceived would include the following elements:

  • Following welcoming remarks, the day will open with keynote speaker George Couros, educator, former principal, and author of the Innovator’s Mindset.  His focus is on people and practices, not tools, and it is expected that he will seed the day with new ideas. 
  • Following this, there will be a short session of table conversations, using the Open Space approach with assistance from BraveSpace.  These will focus on identifying the conversations that people want to pursue.
  • Next, there will be a half-hour showcase of five or six Lightning talks.   This approach will highlight a diversity of learning initiatives and innovations across PEI. 
  • During the afternoon, there will be a second, longer round of table conversations, again using the Open Space methodology. These will aim to flesh out and build the ideas identified during the morning session.

Budget: $30,000, including

  • $5,000 for a contract with BraveSpace to assist with facilitation and to create a graphic record of the event, similar to that created for 2016 YDay;
  • $5,000 for food, setup, materials, etc.  (The meeting is being held at Holland College’s Community Engagement Centre, provided in kind by Holland College.)
  • Just under $10,000 for the keynote speaker’s fee and travel expenses;
  • $10,000 for proposed micro-grants to continue and support the ideas and collaborations arising from #LearnDay.

Several questions were posed and addressed about the planning for the day:

Regarding outreach and recruitment of participants, an open website is proposed.  A letter of invitation has been drafted by working group member Jackie, modelled on the letter used by PEIHSF for the BBQ for Learning event.  It is hoped that Council members will attend, and special efforts will be made to engage members of the District Advisory Councils and the Principals’ Council; however, the aim is also to keep many seats open for the community at large.  Depending on takeup, there may need to be a review and selection process as the facilitation methodology works best with small to medium sized groups of up to 150 participants. It is contemplated to fill the first hundred seats on a first come first served basis, and then to use targeted outreach and if necessary a selection process to increase the diversity and representativeness of the participants. An initial invitation list was presented, which had been cross-referenced with the BBQ for Learning invitation list. LPAC members offered a number of suggestions for additional organizations and sectors.  

As #LearnDay approaches, Bonnie noted, further LPAC members will be needed on the applications review team.  As well, she asked LPAC members to promote participation to their networks and through their social media channels. Neil offered the assistance of Workforce and Advanced Learning with LDay communications and logistics, building on the department’s experience with YDay.

Regarding the day itself, it is intended to live stream on Facebook, the keynote talk. As well, it is hoped to live stream the Lightning talks. BraveSpace will capture the discussions through their mural and table materials.  During the day, there will be photos and impromptu video. Selected materials from this output could be added to the LPAC website.

Regarding the proposed micro-grants, this work is in the early stage. Bonnie indicated that Sharon, Co-Chair of the Working Group, is leading work in this area. Amber is exploring a partnership with Education 2020 to adjudicate applications.  As this area is further developed, a committee will be set up to review and select projects. LPAC members will be invited to participate. In response to queries, Bonnie provided further information: 

The overall aim of the day is to have people leave feeling that they talked about things that matter, met people they can work with, and made some plans for action. The grants, set at $500 to $1,000 are intended as seed money to encourage further interaction and collaboration. Some of the ideas may be cross-group initiatives, or connect things that are already happening. The intent is to announce the grants competition at the end of the day, to ensure that during the day the focus remains on the ideas and the interactions.  It is anticipated that people will have about one month to apply, fast but not so fast as to be a barrier. In keeping with the goal of promoting connections and collaboration, a wide range of people and organizations will be eligible to apply. To refine this element, the Working Group plans to look into and adapt the approaches used by experienced organizations like Education 2020, PEIHSF, and the PEI Businesswomen’s Association.  

6. Update, Work on Consultation Questions: Working Group # 1

Co-chair Whelan provided a report on the efforts of Working Group # 1, which had been struck at the April 10 meeting to consider and propose questions on learning for consultation with stakeholders and Islanders.   The working group had met twice, in late April under Teresa Hennebery’s leadership, and early in July under Bill Whelan’s leadership. A written update was circulated and recapped - see Working Groups Reports. It was noted that the preamble arises from the Working Group’s discussion of context, ownership, and shared responsibility.  It was seen as important to recognize the process of the Council’s past year.  The four questions had then been developed – starting and ending with the individual, and exploring opportunities in between. 

A discussion followed, first touching on the questions themselves and how they could be refined:

  • Did the term expectations refer to entitlements, or aspirations? 
  • How can the questions be tied in to #LearnDay?  It was suggested they could be connected to the event, but not part of the formal agenda. Alternatively, it was noted, there is a 15-minute slot at the start of the day during which they could be posed to participants.
  • How should the District Advisory Councils become involved with developing the questions?  It was suggested they could help to refine them following #LearnDay.
  • A view was expressed that the questions are worded in a very direct way and that people might be more open if the questions were worded in a more conversational way.  “Are we gathering data or stories?” it was asked.  The latter approach was seen as a more effective way of finding out people’s feelings and views
  • On a related note, it was suggested that the questions could be reworded in plainer language to be more accessible to all Islanders.

Discussion then moved to the overall purpose and plan for the questions.  

  • It was noted that if LPAC is going to undertake public engagement, we need to be clear on what we will do with what we learn.  If we cannot do this, and if the data is not subsequently used, it will be more difficult to engage people a second time. 
  • It was asked if we have a communications plan for this aspect of the work. If so, it should be aligned with the #LearnDay communications plan.
  • Who are we consulting with these questions?  Some felt these questions should be used to engage individual Islanders in discussion, especially those who did not have a voice in the school review process – both those who were in school families not affected by the review, and those who are not represented by a stakeholder group.  Others suggested they should be used to reach beyond the usual stakeholders to a much broader range of community organizations not normally part of education discussions, such as harbour authorities and watershed groups.  It was noted that the questions do not fit all these audiences, and might need to be modified to fit the target groups.

In sum, it was concluded to look to the #LearnDay event first for input, and then revisit this issue. The issue of how to work with the DACs will be further considered at that time.

7. Overview of Learning Metrics

Wendy MacDonald provided an overview of education and learning metrics and trends in response to specific data requests from Council members at previous meetings. The presentation provided information on the following matters:

  • Trends in the size and composition of the PEI labour force
  • Educational attainment of the labour force
  • Enrolment at UPEI and Holland College
  • The completion rate for high school, Holland College and UPEI, and how this compares to other jurisdictions.
  • Number of K-12 schools, teachers, EAs, and PSE professors/instructors.
  • Funding and resources for ELCC, K-12, PSE, Workforce training, and how this compares to other jurisdictions.

A point was raised that population and labour force projections for PEI had just been updated to reflect very strong continued population growth.  Accordingly, slides 3 to 5 have been updated to reflect these projections. 

8. Give and Get

In closing, the Co-Chairs thanked members for their contributions to the working groups and to the evening’s discussions. 

Co-chair MacLauchlan noted that the Council had been founded with a mix of two and three-year terms in order to balance renewal and continuity.  He indicated that his term on the Council was drawing to a close at yearend, and that his intent from the onset had been to serve an inaugural term during the Council’s initial years.  Accordingly, he plans to attend #LearnDay and the Council’s final meeting in late fall, and then complete his time on the Council on December 31, 2017.  

Co-chair Whelan noted an opportunity for Council members to attend a Roundtable on “Community Partners in Learning and Innovation,” hosted by the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC) in partnership with Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation.  Two seats have been offered to the Council for the July 20 afternoon event. Interested members are to contact Co-chair Whelan and he will email them the invitation.


Published date: 
December 28, 2017
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