BC’s Education Plan: making a great system even better

VICTORIA – British Columbia has a great education system. We have
skilled teachers and high levels of student achievement. But as good
as it is – education must keep pace with a rapidly changing world.

As a teacher and a parent of two children, I’ve seen first-hand how
our classrooms are changing. Students graduating today are expected
to navigate through more information in a single year than those in a
previous century were likely to encounter in a lifetime. More than
ever, tomorrow’s jobs will demand some form of post-secondary
education or training.

With this in mind, 18 months ago the Ministry of Education launched
BC’s Education Plan with a simple, but ambitious goal: to make B.C.’s
education system more flexible, dynamic and adaptable. The aim is to
put students at the centre of their own learning and ensure a better
connection between what kids learn at school and what they experience
and learn in their everyday lives.

This is not a top-down transformation. If anything, it is an
acknowledgement of the great things already happening in high-
performing classrooms, schools, and districts right across our
province. Nor is BC’s Education Plan a detailed blueprint. Rather, it
sets out a vision for where we want to go and how we want to get
there.

To help guide the transformation, the plan focuses on five key
elements and innovations: personalized learning for every student,
quality teaching, flexibility and choice, high standards, and
learning empowered by technology.

Personalized learning is a recognition that no two students learn the
same way or at the same pace. It recognizes that to succeed in school
– and after graduation – students must be engaged and invested in
their own learning as they develop and mature.

Quality teaching emphasizes what has been long known — great
teaching has always been the key to student success. So we’re
strengthening the emphasis on teachers as guides, coaches and mentors
as they focus more on helping students learn how to learn.

More flexibility and choice means more choice for students and
families with respect to how, when and where learning takes place.
BC’s Education Plan will help give teachers and schools more
flexibility to design programs that really work for students.

It is important to maintain the high standards for which British
Columbia is recognized internationally. We’re staying solid on the
basics, meaning a strong emphasis on reading, writing and math skills
for all students.

With technology playing an integral part of a student’s world outside
of the classroom, it is only natural to extend that relationship to
their education. BC’s Education Plan encourages new and creative ways
to use existing, accessible technology to better support student
learning.

We’ve seen significant progress and engagement since we launched BC’s
Education Plan. In consultation with a wide range of education
stakeholders, we are transforming curriculum to make it easier for
teachers and students to explore key concepts in greater detail, and
as a result, develop the skills and competencies students will need
in the 21st century. In a similar vein, the ministry has reached out
to stakeholders to review B.C.’s graduation program and will soon
start to explore the future of student assessment.

The government introduced new legislation to provide school districts
with more flexibility on school calendars and to make our teacher
regulation system more accountable and transparent. The Learning
Improvement Act created a new $210 million Learning Improvement Fund
to better address complex classroom and composition issues.

We appointed a Superintendent of Reading who is working with school
districts to improve reading skills, particularly for students in
kindergarten to Grade three. We also appointed a new Superintendent
of Aboriginal Achievement to build community partnerships and
strengthen Aboriginal completion rates.

We introduced ERASE Bullying, a comprehensive anti-bullying and
threat assessment program to create safer and more inclusive schools.
And more recently, we launched a comprehensive Skills and Training
Plan to raise the profile of skilled trades and provide more
opportunities for students to earn graduation credits that can also
be applied to a trades certificate or technical program.

We’ve all got a stake in preparing our young people for success. So,
our challenge is clear. The world has changed and will continue to
change, so the way we educate students must continually adapt as
well. Meeting that challenge is the continuing goal of BC’s Education
Plan.