Ambition, Excellence and Prosperity: Priorities and Directions for Learning
Prepared by the Learning Partners Advisory Council
In November 2015 the Government of Prince Edward Island announced the establishment of three new groups to advise it on matters of education and learning. One of these groups, the Learning Partners Advisory Council, is charged with taking a broad look at learning throughout the lifespan from birth to the senior years. Its 25 members have been asked to advise government on policies, programs and strategies needed to support Islanders’ learning
throughout our lives.
The individual learner is at the heart of our purpose. Learning is the means through which all Islanders can develop our full potential as confident, creative, skilled, and caring members of our society. Learning can play a powerful role in overcoming the challenges and barriers that make some Islanders vulnerable from childhood onward. The
opportunities that learning provides must be accessible to all. In turn, Islanders must have a hunger for learning throughout our lives, and strive towards excellence and continued learning and growth.
While the two other advisory groups – the District Advisory Councils and the Principals’ Council – will focus efforts on the kindergarten to grade 12 public school system, the Learning Partners Advisory Council will contribute at a broader level, looking at learners of all ages, and linking with a wide range of community groups and across at least three government departments:
- Education, Early Learning and Culture,
- Workforce and Advanced Learning, and
- Family and Human Services.
This cross-jurisdictional nature uniquely positions the Council to address issues that do not have a “home” in any one government department.
The roles of all three Councils will evolve together, and as such, there is a need to stay in touch and to work together, in order to ensure that we complement and strengthen each other. To date, we have met five times. We have considered our purpose, shared our experiences, generated ideas, and discussed priorities and directions for learning. We have considered what PEI might look like in the future – our people, our communities, our prosperity, and how our learning systems might adapt to prepare our children and our society for possible futures. We have also
considered the trends shaping education worldwide, as identified by the OECD how they might affect Prince Edward Island, and how we might respond. Our discussions to date are documented in the Meeting Summaries.
Drawing from these discussions, our collective thinking to date is captured in this paper on priorities and directions for learning. The purpose of this paper is to engage with all Islanders on the importance of learning excellence, to consider what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. We hope to inspire everyone to think big, to
innovate and to identify actions aimed at advancing excellence for all learners. Simply put, we are all in this together because learning is key to the best possible future for all Islanders.
The Council has had many rich conversations over the past year. We agree on the following priorities and directions for learning, and we believe all Islanders have something to contribute to make these come alive with action.
The Island community must:
- Build a culture of acceptance, inclusion, civic engagement, and belonging. Learning, both formal and informal, should foster within each person a responsibility to care for and support all those within society, to value our diversity, and to contribute to our social fabric.
- Promote the mental health and well-being of Islanders at all ages.
- Embrace a lifespan perspective on learning to prepare Islanders for long, healthy, engaged, and productive lives. To do this, we must continuously reshape and renew the systems and organizations that support learning and learners.
- Raise the level of ambition for all learners to foster curiosity, innovation, creativity, adaptability and resilience needed to thrive in a global future.
- Create paths to prosperity for all, so that all learners can and will experience success in whatever unique form this takes.
- Support educators to respond to multiple learner interests, talents, capacities, aspirations, needs and contexts, and to engage learners in active, collaborative and rigorous learning.
- Build digital literacy among learners and leverage existing and new digital technology tools to enhance learning.
- Prepare learners to successfully transition into, through, and out of learning systems and opportunities throughout our lives. Transitions matter and need to be carefully planned, coordinated and supported with a focus on the learner.
- Diversify learning beyond the traditional classroom to multiple settings that reflect the diversity of learners lives, our interests and talents. This will better serve our unique needs and that of our communities, including our languages and cultures.
- Strengthen existing and forge new partnerships among learning sectors, communities, municipalities, employers, government departments, non-government organizations, public libraries, culture groups, and others to share in the thinking, planning, and resourcing of learning opportunities for all learners at all ages.
Acting on these priorities and directions may require a new way of thinking about learning and our learning systems. We believe that our existing learning systems (e.g. early childhood, K-12, post secondary, and workplace learning) should be more interdependent, and that learning opportunities, both formal and informal, should be more interconnected. To achieve this, we must take a more holistic view of learning as a single Island-wide ecosystem. This ecosystem should make the most of the many people and places that could support excellence for all learners from early childhood to adolescence, to adulthood and the senior years.
Building on these priorities and directions, we have identified three initial areas that we will begin to explore further: learner well-being, learner transitions and learning partnerships.
This paper will be shared with the District Advisory Councils, the Principals’ Council, all learning partners, and the general public.
We ask all Islanders to consider what you can do to raise the level of ambition and to advance learning excellence as set out in this paper. Tell us what you are already doing to move in these directions. Share with us other learning priorities and directions you feel are important.