FREDERICTON (GNB) – A new Education Act was introduced in the legislative assembly today with the goal of making the public education system more accountable and responsive to the needs of children, families, and communities through improvements to its governance structure.

“Building a better education system is our focus,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Bill Hogan. “Everything we have done and will do is guided by one goal: to leave the education system better than we found it. The changes we are putting forward today are an important part of that work and will bring us one step closer to achieving our goals.”

The act would change some aspects of the roles of superintendents and district education councils in the anglophone sector, and would make changes related to family and student representation in both education sectors.

The changes in the act would not impact the everyday classroom experience for students and teachers. A separate initiative has begun in the anglophone sector, with the establishment of a steering committee and two working committees, to improve results for students.

In the anglophone sector:

  • District education councils (DECs) will change from a decision-making body to an advisory body.
    • The composition will stay the same, but with an additional seat for a student member-in-training.
  • Parent school support committees (PSSCs) will continue their role in advising schools and principals. The committees will now receive training in school improvement planning and will be tasked with approving goals and objectives for school improvement plans.
  • Superintendents will now report directly to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

In the francophone sector, district education councils will retain their existing authorities as per Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which grants the francophone community the right of management and control as it relates to educational governance.

Under the proposed model, student councils with new authority will be formally established in each high school in the anglophone and francophone sectors. The student councils will meet with their parent school support committees and district education councils to discuss the needs of the students at the school and district level.

“It is important that we create spaces for students to be active citizens,” said Hogan. “Student councils will ensure all high school students engage in discussions and decisions that impact their learning experience and environment.”

The proposed changes would be effective July 1. Hogan said the government will work closely with partners across the system on implementation plans over the coming months and years.

More information about the new Education Act is available online.