Westisle Family of Schools District Advisory Council
Members for 2020-2021: Sandee MacLean (Westisle Composite High School), Coralee Stewart (Alberton Elementary), JJ MacNeil (Bloomfield Elementary), Chris Dunbar (M.E. Callaghan), Sam Shaw-Venoit (O’Leary Elementary), Tina Blanchard (St. Louis Elementary), Teena Callaghan (Tignish Elementary), Sheila Gaudette (Tignish Elementary Teacher Rep), Sakura MacLean (Westisle Student Rep), Meredith Rix (Westisle Student Rep), Dionne Tuplin (PEIHSF Regional Director), Dannielle Sprigg (Hernewood Intermediate)
Vacant: Ellerslie Elementary
November 23, 2020 at Westisle Composite High
Guest: Dr. Tamara Hubley-Little, Director of English Education, Programs and Services
Discussions and Outcomes
English Curriculum Presentation
Dr. Tamara Hubley-Little gave a presentation about the background and steps for curriculum development from policy to implementation.
- She outlined the purpose and basic principles of the public education system, followed by the role of the provincial curriculum and the four key stages for program planning that encompass kindergarten to grade 12.
- She also outlined curriculum shifts in the following components:
- Front matter
- Essential graduation outcomes: as of 2015, competencies have been adopted
- Specific curriculum outcomes: the number of these outcomes has been reduced to help students have meaningful learning
- Assessment and evaluation
- Resources: this component has been updated
- Achievement indicators: these have been established to make sure learning is comparable across classrooms
- Weighting and pacing guides: these have been added to provide information to teachers on how long to spend on certain aspects
- Bloom’s taxonomy: creativity has now been placed at the highest level
- CAMET competencies adopted in 2015 include citizenship, communication, personal-career development, creativity and innovation, critical thinking, and technological fluency.
- The five phases of curriculum development were outlined:
- Phase 1 – Framework Development
- Phase 2 – Curriculum Development
- Phase 3 – Curriculum Implementation
- Phase 4 – Curriculum Publication
- Phase 5 – Curriculum Maintenance
- The process of curriculum design includes
- Essential graduation competencies
- General curriculum outcomes
- Specific curriculum outcomes
- Achievement indicators
- For classroom application, teachers develop instructional and assessment plans that allows them to make decisions about how to teach and assess students while meeting specific curriculum outcomes.
- Significant program developments include integrated curriculum, English language arts and integrated curriculum, intermediate curriculum delivery renewal, and flexible learning expansion.
These points were raised in the following discussion:
- The intermediate curriculum delivery renewal is focusing on the following:
- Engaging and relevant curriculum
- Increasing opportunities for teacher and student relationships by reducing the number of transitions for students in the day. This also gives more time to engage in coursework and materials. They are moving away from 40-45 minute blocks to 60 minutes blocks.
- Transitioning away from number of minutes to percentage of day focused on a component. There will be flex time to meet individual school needs.
- Working to make sure that each school has the staff and the curriculum ready for a shift in the program of studies.
- Trying to build consistency across schools.
- It is a 3-year process, and the Department has started to implement some of these changes already.
- Outdoor curriculum and mental health
- PE does have outdoor education components.
- The Department is providing exemplars to teachers on how to use the environment for educational purposes.
- The curriculum is in pilot this year with teachers. Students of piloting schools can expect to see this introduced in PE and health curriculum this year.
- The curriculum on outdoor education and mental health have not been published yet. They will be published once implemented.
- There was an in service for all k-12 teachers on mental health this year.
- Curriculum selection in high schools
- Program of studies provides parameters that ensure graduation requirements are fulfilled.
- Students register for courses, which are offered if numbers are high enough.
- Any concerns around outdated courses or lack of access to courses of interest should be discussed with the school administration.
- Flexible learning opportunities and online learning may help students access courses of interest not offered in their school.
- It can take up to five years to update the curriculum for one course depending on the extent of the revisions.
- Involvement in setting priorities in curriculum development
- The graduation requirements were reviewed back in 2016 and updated.
- Consultations involved groups such as home and school, cultural associations, industry, and UPEI.
- Students were not involved in the consultation process to update the graduation requirements.
- Students were involved in the piloting and evaluation of the Bridge Ed Program.
- The DAC would like to know whether ventilation systems were tested with students in the school. There have been complaints about headaches, temperature, and heating/cooling. The DAC would also like to know whether the federal funding will be used to upgrade ventilation in schools.
- UPDATE: There are no plans at this time for any upgrades to ventilation systems related to the COVID federal funding.
- The DAC would like a summary of how the federal funding for schools is being allocated across schools in PEI.
- UPDATE: This is being worked on, the allocations will be shared once this information becomes available.
- The DAC would like to know whether the Department is looking at how end of year schools trips might proceed under COVID 19 parameters (for example, can schools go on cross-island tours and stay overnight at camps).
- UPDATE: The PSB has not yet begun to look at year end trips. Currently, we are following our own PSB guidelines for school field trips as well as following direction from the CPHO.
- Water stations have now been installed in all schools in the Westisle family.
- The Department does have a plan for what would happen if schools need to close due to COVID. It is anticipated that there will be a joint DAC meeting, similar to the meeting at the start of the school year about school operational plans, at a later date.
School Food Program
- The presentation from the School Food Program Team on November 3 gave some context to the challenges that the program has had in the Westisle Family of Schools. It was helpful to know that the team is taking their feedback seriously in their roll out of a new menu in January.
- There are still issues with food quality, temperature, portions, and types of food served.
- The DAC would like to communicate that despite the declining uptake and issues the program is facing in their family of schools, they see the value of this program and are interested in seeing improvements to make it successful.
School Breakfast Programs
- Hernewood is looking to offer their breakfast program 3 days per week. The volunteers are in place to prepare food and have it delivered to classrooms.
- All the other schools in the Westisle family have their breakfast programs running. Many offer cold breakfast items 2-3 days per week, and hot breakfast items once a week. Some schools deliver items to classrooms for volunteers or teachers to distribute, while others have students pick items up at a table, depending on the layout of the school and age of the students.
- Distributing food in the classroom can be time consuming, and sometimes cuts into teaching time.
- Funding can be an issue for snack and breakfast programs. Members of the DAC offered to share information about funding and discounts they have received from organizations and suppliers.
October 6, 2020, WebEx Meeting
Guest: John Cummings, Executive Director, Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
Discussion and Outcomes
- The Engagement Officer will continue to develop the meeting agenda and organize DAC meetings.
- The DAC would prefer to meet in person rather than through WebEx.
- The DAC would like to meet at least six times this year.
- The DAC will decide whether to have a group chair later.
- The DAC would like to be meaningfully consulted by government on key issues.
- The DAC would like to ensure that the issues discussed at the DAC meetings get to the Minister.
- The DAC would like to focus on how to improve the Westisle Family of Schools.
- Questions raised by members at DAC meetings will be addressed during the meeting or following the meeting and directed to the appropriate individual or group (i.e. Department, PSB, Minister).
Anne Rooban, Engagement Officer for the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning, gave an overview presentation on the role of the DACs.
- Mandate of the DACs is to help shape an education system that is focused on and meets the needs of learners. The role of DACs is:
- to advise the Minister of Education on educational priorities for the District;
- to engage school communities in discussions;
- to foster collaboration among school councils, home and school associations and the community.
- Responsibilities of membership:
- Report concerns of your local Home and School to the DAC;
- Provide leadership in identifying priorities to focus on;
- Work collaboratively with members;
- Report back to your local Home and School the discussions and outcomes of DAC meetings.
School Operational Plans
- Some concerns were raised about music and sports programs in schools.
- UPDATE: The PSB values both sport and music programs in schools. Like other programs in schools, there have been adjustments made to comply with safety requirements from CPHO. Singing is permitted provided that masks are worn and people can maintain a 6 ft distance. Instruments are permitted, and depending on the instrument, certain provisions are in place to ensure student and staff safety.
- Teachers are struggling with the limitations of school operational plans and the extra duty and cleaning requirements. Sustainability is a concern. There needs to be additional support for teachers.
- There is a lack of opportunities for parents to meet with teachers and the school community. Communication with parents has been a huge challenge. Facebook and email should not be the main ways to get information to parents. Texting would be a valuable tool.
- The cohort system is negatively affecting social lives of students, especially junior high students. Some students are becoming isolated due to the cohort system. There was no opportunity for students to bond with their cohort groups this year.
- Ordering and installation of water filling stations is taking too long. Parent Council has purchased a water filling station but has not been able to get it hooked up yet.
- UPDATE: Other schools on the Island are also experiencing delays in getting water filling stations installed.
- It has been challenging to make breakfast and snack programs COVID friendly. The extra measures required put more pressure on teachers to distribute food. As a result, the breakfast programs have not started in most schools within the DAC.
- The current educational system is not designed for COVID. It is important now to be innovative and creative, and to re-think education models and structures. It is important to look at things like outdoor education. There is an opportunity for PEI to lead the way in taking this opportunity to change things.
- It is important to engage parents and let them know they can voice concerns to make changes that will benefit families, schools and communities.
- The Healthy Lunch program has started. There are concerns about the quality of food.
Topics for discussion for the upcoming school year
- School Curriculum
- The current model of school was created for past conditions.
- There needs to be updates to the curriculum and course offerings to reflect current issues like climate change, new jobs, treaty rights, etc.
- The curriculum should address loss of culture within schools by inspiring Island culture and heritage through music and storytelling.
- Addressing Diversity
- This is related to school curriculum
- PEI has become a very diverse culture. There needs to be some uncomfortable conversations about racism.
- Mental Health
- This needs to be addressed at the junior and senior high levels.
- There needs to be more support for student and teacher mental health (i.e. safe spaces, teaching stress coping strategies)
- Psych Ed Assessments
- Students with learning disabilities are waiting too long to get tested, and as a result, cannot read.
- What is the current wait time for Psych Ed Assessments?
- Absenteeism is increasing. We need to determine why this is happening and how to address it.
- Roles of Principals
- The mandate of principals is to help teachers and to grow and invest in them.
- However, with increasing responsibilities, this is challenging for principals to accomplish.
- School maintenance
- Establish better communication and building trust between parents, schools and department.
Previous School Years