FREDERICTON (GNB) – Fifteen French immersion leads and a refreshed curriculum have been added to the anglophone school system to support the return of Grade 1 French immersion in September.

“The reintroduction of Grade 1 French immersion this school year has been a tremendous effort between government and its partners in the school system,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “Your government has worked hard to ensure the proper resources are in place to make this program a success.”

French immersion leads are teachers with expertise who will work in the classroom with teachers and students to enhance French learning. Leads were hired based on the number of immersion classes offered in each district. Two were hired for the Anglophone North School District, three for the Anglophone South School District, five for the Anglophone East School District, and five for the Anglophone West School District.

The Grade 1 curriculum aims to foster a stronger focus on literacy. The emphasis on oral language, reading and writing will be integrated into subjects such as science, health and social studies. To familiarize themselves with the curriculum, teachers took part in professional learning this summer.

In addition, a two-year French-language pilot project will begin this school year at one school in each of the four anglophone districts. The schools are Miramichi Rural School, Campobello Island Consolidated School, Riverside Consolidated School and Doaktown Elementary School. The pilot project will allow students to learn to speak, read and write in French in the areas of literacy, numeracy, art, music and culture for a minimum of 15 minutes per day.

“As part of the commitment to move early French immersion back to Grade 1, your government also committed to finding innovative solutions to providing enhanced French learning in rural schools,” said Kenny. “The schools offering these pilot projects will have the flexibility to determine how the pilot will be implemented at their school, including which grade levels will participate.”

In total, 68 schools will offer early French immersion beginning in September. Blackville School, Nelson Rural School, North and South Esk Elementary School, Keswick Ridge School, Minto Elementary Middle School, Montgomery Street Elementary School and Petitcodiac Regional School will offer French immersion for the first time.

“Ensuring the proper resources are in place and available plays an important role in the success of any program. This support will be particularly important this year with the introduction of refreshed curriculum for French immersion,” said French immersion lead Nikki Bélanger-Turcotte. “Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction of providing teachers with the resources and tools needed to help students succeed.”

One objective of the anglophone sector’s 10-year education plan, Everyone at their best, is to improve levels of French-language literacy to help all learners access a variety of bilingual opportunities and life experiences.