New vision for public education in New Brunswick (07/06/05)

NB 707

June 5, 2007

FREDERICTON (CNB) - A new plan for public education in New Brunswick was unveiled today by Premier Shawn Graham and Education Minister Kelly Lamrock.

When Kids Come First is government's vision for building the best education system in the country.


"As we embark upon a new era in New Brunswick, our government is focused on achieving self-sufficiency for our province by 2026," Graham said. "In order to reach that goal, we must begin with our most important resource, the children of New Brunswick."

When Kids Come First has three goals that reflect the three fundamental stages children will pass through on their journey into, and through, the K-12 education system. These goals are:

  1. Every child will arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.
  2. Every child will leave Grade 5 having mastered the tools to learn - reading, writing and numeracy.
  3. Every child will graduate from high school having had the opportunity to discover their personal strengths and to find something they love doing.

"Over the past seven months I took the opportunity to meet with as many students, teachers, principals, parents, community members and business people as possible," Lamrock said. "I asked them for their ideas about how to encourage innovative teachers, how to intervene earlier if a kid has learning issues and how to make sure that schools give the opportunity for each kid to discover something in learning they are passionate about. The answers to these questions helped guide the development of When Kids Come First."

When Kids Come First contains eight commitments with over 140 specific actions that will move New Brunswick toward becoming a leader in education:

  • To Ensure School Readiness
  • To Work Urgently on Literacy, Numeracy and Science
  • To Help Children Develop a Passion for Learning
  • To Give Educators the tools to Innovate and Lead
  • To Live Up to the Promise of Inclusion
  • To Engage Communities and Partners in Improving Schools
  • To Promote Cultural Identity and Linguistic Growth
  • To Create Healthy and Safe Schools

To help measure the progress of When Kids Come First, a balanced scorecard model has been developed. This concept is essentially a composite index, whereby 23 targets, linked to the eight commitments, are used to determine whether the education and school systems are improving relative to their current status and the targets and standards identified.

Successful implementation of When Kids Come First will require continued co-operation and increased collaboration of everyone. To show New Brunswick youth that politicians, educators, family, community, and business have an active interest in their education, a covenant will be developed that will serve as a symbol of the collective commitment these various stakeholders must make to our kids' education.

"I invite all New Brunswickers to work together in realizing the vision of this five-year plan," Graham said. "When kids really do come first we will truly know we are making progress in building a self-sufficient New Brunswick."

When Kids Come First is available online.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Highlights of the eight commitments of When Kids Come First follow. MEDIA CONTACTS: Jason Humphrey or Angélique Binet, Education, 506-444-4714.

When Kids Come First

1. To Ensure School Readiness

  • Design and implement the I'm Ready to Learn Initiative to prepare children and their families for entry to Kindergarten, including an outreach program, school readiness clinics and an early language skills assessment.
  • Ensure children who need a Special Education Plan have one in place before entering Kindergarten.
  • Improve school-readiness through better collaboration with the Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services.
  • Support provincial efforts to improve adult literacy.

2. To Work Urgently on Literacy, Numeracy and Science

Insist on early achievement in the early years by: launching the K-5 I Can Learn Initiative to ensure kids acquire the basics in literacy, numeracy and science by: adding new resources; adding a literacy test in Grade 4 and a numeracy test in Grade 3; provide funding through the Innovative Learning Fund to support best practices in helping struggling students; ensuring specific practices are identified in school improvement plans in need of better results; and placing more focus on early science.

3. To Help Children Develop a Passion for Learning

  • Ensure new learning opportunities by: developing the Diversity in Learning Initiative to increase learning opportunities related to the trades and the arts; ensuring teachers are trained in student-driven and experiential learning; and examining best practice options for alternative learning environments.
  • Recognize that quality learning starts with quality teaching through: developing a multi-year professional development strategy; ensuring the Education Leave Program is linked to provincial priorities; holding an annual Minister's Forum on Best Practices; initiating a Teacher Workload Review; developing an accreditation program for faculties of education; and implementing a teacher recruitment strategy.
  • Engage kids as active citizens by: launching a Ministerial Task Force on Citizenship Education to review the curriculum and made recommendations; consulting with youth and engaging students in decision-making at school; using interactive learning such as mock elections and model parliaments; ensuring environmental science is integrated into the curriculum; and exploring the feasibility of making service learning a requirement for graduation.
  • Celebrate rural schools through: establishing a rural schools policy to examine the unique funding challenges of rural schools; exploring online homework and tutoring; and encouraging greater participation in online courses.
  • Modernize school libraries by: developing a five- year plan for school libraries focused on service standards, training for staff, technology and other resources; encouraging greater collaboration between the New Brunswick Public Library Service and schools; and supporting the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport in implementing a Book Policy that promotes New Brunswick authors and local culture.
  • Provide strengths-based guidance and evaluation by: developing a student strengths-based guidance model for grades 6-12; making greater use of portfolio-based learning and assessment; and working with schools and other departments to foster successful transitions between the different school levels and among schools, postsecondary education and training, and work.
  • Enhance post-secondary participation and success by: working with universities and colleges to offer post-secondary experience camps to middle and high school students; implementing dual enrollment options with colleges and universities; and partnering with post-secondary institutions to determine the correlation between high school marks and post-secondary success.

4. To Give Educators the Tools to Innovate and Lead

  • Establish an Innovative Learning Fund that supports innovative teachers and school teams and encourages private sector and community participation.
  • Mandate a Critical Thinking Team to ensure critical thinking components are reflected throughout the curriculum and evaluation mechanisms.
  • Create a Teachers' Virtual Resource Centre to provide new online opportunities for sharing best practices and professional development.
  • Support new teaching ideas that challenge and energize gifted students.
  • Develop a multi-year plan to create technology-enriched classrooms, and invest in adaptive technologies to improve learning in compositionally challenged classrooms.
  • Invest through the Innovative Learning Fund to provide laptop computers to schools with the best-developed plans for using technology to support learning.

5. To Live Up to the Promise of Inclusion

  • Initiate the development of a five-year strategy designed to minimize class composition issues in a systemic manner.
  • Work with the Ministerial Committee on Inclusive Education to clarify, define and promote the goals of inclusive education.
  • Initiate a review of roles, responsibilities and qualifications of key personnel in the school system.
  • Determine core services needed for students with particular learning and medical needs in collaboration with the Department of Family and Community Services, the Department of Health and the Officer of Human Resources and integrate services for children.
  • Ensure Special Education Plans are more meaningful by setting clear targets and holding schools accountable for results.
  • Begin to increase the number of methods and resource teachers consistent with the MacKay recommendations.
  • Develop an Autism Strategy and train 400 staff in autism over four years.
  • Develop a Learning Disabilities Strategy.
  • Initiative a review of the funding formula to ensure funding is more directly linked to student needs.
  • Work with the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate to improve dispute resolution mechanisms.

6. To Engage Communities and Partners in Improving Schools

  • Launch 75 new community school projects (30 in Phase 1), within the context of a new Community Schools Policy.
  • Work with the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport to implement the GO NB program to provide after-school, early morning or lunch-time physical activities.
  • Work with the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport to implement the LINK program in Grades 6-12 to promote use of community resources.

7. To Promote Cultural Identity and Linguistic Growth

  • Commission a review of French Second Language programming in the anglophone sector.
  • Review English Second Language programming in the francophone sector.
  • Work with the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport to develop and implement a linguistic and cultural policy.
  • Support second language experiences and exchanges for students.
  • Provide language training for new Canadians.
  • Commission a review of French first language programming for francophone students.
  • Support language upgrading for students of "ayant droit" parents who do not have sufficient command of the French language.
  • Improve education for First Nations students by establishing new partnership agreements with the federal government and First Nations on improving education programs and services for Aboriginal students.
  • Establish a new First Nations Ministerial Advisory Committee on Curriculum.
  • Develop and implement a First Nations Education Strategy founded on work of the provincial Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee.

8. To Create Healthy and Safe Schools

  • Explore new tools to reduce bullying, violence, homophobia and other forms of discrimination, including student surveys.
  • Review Policies 701 and 703 and add a Student Code of Conduct.
  • Work with the RCMP and law enforcement to develop threat assessment and emergency protocols.
  • Encourage healthy students through developing a Physical Education and Activity Plan for all schools, and supporting the Premier's Pedometer Initiative.
  • Support the organization of the NB Games by the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport.
  • Work with the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport to define physical fitness.
  • Require DECs to develop comprehensive infrastructure plans and explore potential for multi-year capital budget funding.
  • Improve the energy efficiency of schools.
  • Review building standards and audit school transportation.