FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government will honour a commitment to reinstate French immersion in Grade 1 beginning in September 2017.

“New Brunswickers want results and they want the best education for their children,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “We are delivering on our promise and supporting those who want their children to have the opportunity to learn French at an earlier age.”

The government committed to make improvements to the previous Grade 1 immersion program including initiatives to address classroom composition issues and to provide more access to immersion in rural areas.

A curriculum based upon the best practices for younger learners in second-language instruction is being prepared and teachers will be hired to provide early immersion.

The government will work with the teachers’ associations to find opportunities for teachers displaced by the reintroduction of Grade 1 immersion through initiatives such as providing support to classes with challenging classroom compositions, using displaced teachers to replace retired teachers and to support the objectives in the education plan, particularly literacy and inclusion. In addition, the government will discuss ways to address K-2 educational time with teachers in order to improve learning outcomes and reduce future classroom composition issues.

The government will seek to improve access in rural schools by undertaking an early expression of interest from parents and working with districts in all schools to make immersion available in as many schools as possible. In schools where there is some interest in immersion but insufficient interest to create an immersion class, research will be undertaken to find innovative solutions to access to enhanced French learning in rural schools. These initiatives will also be launched in the fall of 2017.

“This is something many, many parents have been asking for and we are proud to be supporting them,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “We understand that as a bilingual province we must offer strong French second-language learning opportunities.”

Objective eight of the 10-year education plan, Everyone at Their Best, is to improve levels of French language literacy to help all learners gain access to a variety of bilingual opportunities and life experiences. To achieve this objective, the education system will support high-quality learning experiences, instruction and assessment to ensure foundational or higher levels of oral, reading and writing French language proficiency for all learners. Learner access to French Second Language opportunities will also be improved at all grade levels.