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BC Education Minister speaks to back-to-school

Contributor
By Contributor
September 2nd, 2013

This week more than half a million B.C. children are back in the classroom to continue their education journeys.

While our youngest students are experiencing their very first day of school and Grade 12s are looking forward to the next phase in their lives, the first week back is a special time when everyone shares in the excitement about the year ahead.

The back-to-school season is when students, parents and teachers set objectives and settle in as a group to work together. For our government’s part, Premier Christy Clark has set some clear goals: pursuing long-term labour peace, moving BC’s Education Plan forward, and building on our commitment to skills and technical training.

I know we all want to find lasting labour peace because it allows everyone to keep their focus on what matters most: helping every student learn and succeed.

To that end, we will continue to pursue our government’s framework for a 10-year agreement with teachers. We have already taken steps to do what the British Columbia Teachers Federation has asked for, which is to bargain directly with government on provincial matters. Stability is equally important for school support staff, represented in negotiations by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and other unions. As part of successfully concluding current negotiations, we also want to explore with these unions how to achieve long-term stability for support staff.

Long-term labour peace is a means to a far more important end: the ongoing transformation of our system to better support learning. While we have one of the best systems in the world, there is a growing body of scientific research on brain development and learning that we need to shift many of our traditional approaches.

Almost two years ago, we launched BC’s Education Plan to get more students engaged in their own learning and provide them the skills they need in a rapidly changing world. It starts with the recognition that no two students learn the same way or at the same pace, and that learning is far more than just memorizing facts.

As a result, BC’s Education Plan puts a strong focus on personalized learning, which aims to provide students more opportunity to pursue their individual talents, interests and preferences while keeping their focus on the important foundational skills of reading, writing and numeracy. It also seeks to better prepare students for 21st-century careers and workplaces.

Our cross-government Skills and Training Jobs Plan is another important change. This year, an estimated 134,000 students will take at least one applied skills course. A further 4,000 students will participate in the Secondary School Apprenticeship Program and ACE-IT Program (Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training), where they earn graduation credits while simultaneously earning credits toward post-secondary programs and apprenticeships.

We recently appointed a new superintendent for trades and student transitions whose role is to assist districts in expanding partnerships with local industry and post-secondary institutions. We will expand the YES 2 IT (Youth Exploring Skills to Industry Training) program that increases awareness among students in grades 6-9 and we will introduce a new course in February 2014 – Skills Exploration 12.

As students demonstrate everyday at school, dedication is the path to achievement. As another school year gets underway, our government will dedicate itself to pursuing lasting labour peace, transforming an already great education system, and growing skills and technical training in every district.

These efforts will keep more students on track to graduate and better prepared for the opportunities ahead – whether they have set their sights on technical training, university or jumping straight into the workforce.

Connect with the Province of B.C. at www.gov.bc.ca/connect

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