SAINT JOHN (GNB) – A government investment of $3 million over two years will support the continuation of a Saint John initiative that helps the most vulnerable children succeed in school.

The When Children Succeed project was launched in 2018. It helps students overcome learning barriers in kindergarten to Grade 2 by providing intensive in-class support designed to close the education achievement gap by the time students complete Grade 3, which research shows significantly boosts their graduation rate.

“There are children who enter kindergarten significantly behind their peers, which creates a significant barrier to their success,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “We need to tear down those barriers and do everything we can to make sure no one is left behind. This project is closing that gap, and we are proud to provide support to build on the early success of this program.”

While New Brunswick has one of the highest graduation rates in Canada overall, averaging about 84 per cent over the past five years, there is data indicating the rate at targeted schools is only about 70 per cent.

To help address this gap, the project was developed by the Anglophone South School District and initially funded by the Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative in Saint John. It is carried out at seven schools in the region deemed to have the most significant need.

The approach uses the Building Blocks of Reading program, giving students strong early literacy skills to support long-term achievement in all subjects. Best practices will be reviewed to support similar programming in other elementary schools throughout the province.

“We are incredibly proud of the work the team at the Anglophone South School District has put into this project at the local level and the early results they have achieved,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “This project will give our most vulnerable students a stronger foundation that will help them with academic achievement and graduation and to achieve their full potential as citizens.”

The schools involved are:

  • Seaside Park Elementary School
  • Glen Falls School
  • Princess Elizabeth School
  • Centennial School
  • Prince Charles School
  • St. John the Baptist / King Edward School
  • Hazen White-St. Francis School

“We are privileged, in Anglophone South School District, to have the support of Education and Early Childhood Development and Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour on this initiative,” said district superintendent Zoë Watson. “We wish to recognize the incredible assistance we received from the Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative and LivingSJ, which allowed us to develop and explore this project in our seven schools. This could not have been realized without the support of our community leaders and their shared belief that every child has the right to achieve their potential, regardless of their circumstances.”

About 700 children are part of the project, giving them a better opportunity to pursue post-secondary education and become contributing members of the workforce.

“The Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative would like to thank the government for their leadership on this file and recognize the excellent work of everyone in our project schools, and the community investors who financially supported When Children Succeed since its earliest days,” said project chair Roxanne Fairweather. “This innovative investment and interdepartmental partnership in educational equity is exactly the kind of action required to close the education gap in high-needs schools and create long-term benefits for these children, their families and our future provincial workforce.”

This initiative supports the provincial government’s 10-year education plans, Succeeding at Home: a green paper on education in New Brunswick and three government priorities: energizing the private sector by improving workforce participation; creating vibrant and sustainable communities by breaking the cycle of poverty; and establishing a world-class education system by ensuring every child succeeds.

Funding is provided through WorkingNB as part of the Canada-New Brunswick Labour Market Agreements.