FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has released a paper entitled Succeeding at Home: A green paper on education in New Brunswick that outlines specific proposals for transforming the education system.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is asking parents, teachers, students and the public for input on how it can make New Brunswick’s education system the best in the world.

“New Brunswick’s young people need access to a world-class education so they can make the most out of their lives and compete in future job markets,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “It is urgent that we act now to build a better future for our young people. The green paper outlines our vision for how we can create the best education system in the world – which is one of our government’s top priorities.”

The green paper puts forward ideas and actions aimed at ensuring every child gets the best possible education, with graduates being able to compete with the best in the world, and young people viewed as top candidates by post-secondary institutions and employers.

“Our education system faces significant challenges, ranging from extremely challenging classroom compositions, to large numbers of disengaged students,” said Cardy. “These and other factors have led to unacceptably low levels of student achievement. Our province’s current social and economic reality should be enough to trigger bold and immediate action. Together, we have a moral imperative to reimagine our education system and get to work on making necessary changes.”

Supporting and empowering teachers

“Teachers are essential to the success of our students,” said Cardy. “We have many highly trained and motivated educators, but they need more freedom to do their jobs.”

Actions include:

  • modifying the Education Act and introducing a Classroom Freedom Act to ensure classroom and teacher freedom;
  • addressing serious classroom composition challenges;
  • introducing a red tape challenge to address administrative overload;
  • updating and reinforcing the absenteeism policy; and
  • working with universities to transform education programs.

Ensuring students are engaged and challenged

Research shows that differences in development can be profound between younger children, and every student develops in his or her own time and at their own level.

“There are few activities in life where people are grouped based on their age,” said Cardy. “In order to provide students with the skills they need to be life-long learners, they need to receive support and have opportunities to excel.”

Actions and ideas include:

  • replacing early year grades with flexible learning environments;
  • partnering with post-secondary institutions and the private sector to provide additional opportunities to students;
  • building on the Integrated Service Delivery model to better address the needs of students; and
  • expanding the International Baccalaureate program.

“Literacy is the foundation for success in all areas of life,” said Cardy. “We must focus on improving literacy skills in order for our students to be competitive in the future. Improving our literacy scores in both sectors is a top priority for this government. We will ensure that all teachers have the necessary skills and knowledge to support learners as they increase their literacy skills.”

Currently, New Brunswick trails the country in literacy scores and ranks in 7th place.

Opportunities to learn a second language

The provincial government will ensure that all students in the anglophone sector achieve a minimum of conversational levels of French proficiency by the time they graduate from high school.

“We need to make sure that all students have an opportunity to learn our province’s two official languages,” said Cardy.

Exploring career paths and trades education

It is estimated that between 2018 and 2027 there will be 9,144 job openings in the construction sector alone. That is why providing trade training opportunities is so important.

The green paper calls for the government to work with industry and the New Brunswick community colleges to develop learning partnerships, and expand the availability of physical and virtual learning environments so that interested students can learn real life, on the job skills.

The green paper proposes other actions and ideas to ensure students and their parents are supported, including:

  • strengthening student relationships in the anglophone and francophone sectors;
  • developing guidelines regarding the use of technology in the classroom;
  • expanding First Nations language courses; and
  • improving civics education.

Other ideas proposed in the green paper that aim to ensure educators are supported, include:

  • protecting the health and safety of teachers and other adults in the school system by strengthening policies;
  • examining the structure and mandate of the department, school districts and district education councils;
  • empowering principals by giving them the tools to lead;
  • creating parent-teacher communication policies; and
  • reducing political interference through multi-year budgeting.

New Brunswickers are encouraged to submit their feedback on the proposals outlined in the green paper to consultation.EECD-EDPE@gnb.ca.

The provincial government will also host a summit to solicit further input and ideas. It will be held from Oct. 16 to 18.

Changes will be introduced as early as the 2020-21 school year and will continue through to 2030.

“We are asking New Brunswickers for feedback on how we can best implement the actions and ideas we have proposed; how to improve student experience and overall learning; and the role of educators and how we can support them,” Cardy said.

Building a world-class education system is one of the government’s top priorities, with progress regularly measured and reported on publicly. For more details visit www.gnb.ca/PerformanceNB.