Northern Lights Public Schools will not be participating in piloting the new draft Kindergarten to Grade 6 provincial curriculum during the 2021-2022 school year.
“The last two school years have been very challenging for our students and staff and we need to focus on addressing the academic and mental health impacts of the pandemic and try to restore a sense of normalcy for our students,” Board Chair Arlene Hrynyk said. “We support Administrations’ decision not to proceed at this time, as this will only add to the stress and anxiety our students and staff are already experiencing.”
While NLPS will not be involved in piloting the new curriculum, it will be conducting a comprehensive review of the curriculum with its teaching staff. This review will include providing feedback to Alberta Education, collaborating to evaluate and develop resources for teachers to use when the curriculum is implemented in 2022-2023, and providing professional development opportunities to teachers to help them prepare for the transition to the new curriculum.
“We want to encourage and stimulate a dialogue with our professional staff, review the curriculum and provide feedback, while not impacting our students,” Superintendent Rick Cusson said. “Providing our staff with time to work through things next year will be beneficial to our students when we are required to implement the new curriculum in the 2022-2023 school year.”
The Board is also encouraging stakeholders, including parents/guardians, students, and community members to participate in any opportunities available to them to provide input to Alberta Education.
“We value all of the feedback we have received since the new draft curriculum was announced and we will certainly use what has been shared with us when we are providing input to Alberta Education and our provincial elected officials,” Hrynyk said. “We believe strongly that parents play a critical role in education and their voices need to be heard in the decision-making process.”
The division says it will also be looking at ways to engage parents in discussions about the draft curriculum and collect feedback.
Further details will be shared once they have been finalized.
St. Paul Education
St. Paul Education will not be piloting the new K-6 curriculum in classrooms this fall.
After feedback from the Board of Trustees and stakeholders in the division’s communities, the division has decided to focus on consistency in the 2021-2022 school year by continuing with the current curriculum.
“Over the course of the year we’ll undertake a review of this curriculum with all our stakeholders and provide Alberta education feedback via the channels that are available,” said division superintendent Glen Brodziak during the April 14 board meeting.
According to Brodziak, part of the reason they’ve chosen not to pilot the new curriculum is the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student learning.
He said there were areas the division was intrigued by and saw positive steps being taken, especially literacy, numeracy, computer coding, and public speaking skills.
“At the same time of course, we identified very early on some concerns in social studies. The appropriateness and omission of curriculum lessons regarding diversity, religion and Truth and Reconciliation, and specifically with treaties. Truth and Reconciliation was really not in the (new) curriculum prior to grade four, which for myself and I think our staff and our parents was really a non-starter in that respect,” said Brodziak.
“We believe that education, those teachings, should start from kindergarten on.”
There was a rally protesting the new curriculum in front of the school board office on April 1.
Board Chair Heather Starosielski said the decision to not pilot the new curriculum does mean foregoing the money associated with it, but noted the province has indicated there will still be money in future budgets to assist with the implementation across the province. The new K-6 curriculum is expected to be rolled out in schools for the 2022-2023 school year.
“Trustees agree with the administration’s view on this,” said Starosielski.
She said the curriculum has been in a state of flux since the review was initially announced in 2012.
“Nobody could foresee that there would be a pandemic of this magnitude and obviously we are all feeling those impacts, every individual that works within our education system. It is a challenging time and to add another layer of on top of things is probably not in the best interest of our students,” said Starosielski.
She urged the wider community to participate in the review process and provide feedback.
-With files from Meredith Kerr