The Prince Edward Island Government responded this morning to the Public Schools Branch school review recommendations.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Doug Currie made the announcement following Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting in response to last night’s meeting of the directors of the Public School Branch.
“We have listened to Islanders throughout this process. It is clear that Islanders across the province feel strongly about their schools and have a great deal of passion for their communities,” said Premier Wade MacLauchlan. “We want to channel that passion and support the challenge Islanders have given themselves to grow their communities, local economies and populations.”
The review was an unprecedented process of engagement that heard thousands of Islanders commit to working to ensure their communities grow and prosper.
The following key elements were announced based on the commitments from Islanders:
• all schools will remain open;
• new student well-being supports will be introduced to schools across the province; and
• regional economic development councils will be established in the coming weeks to capitalize on the energies and momentum of communities to help them grow and prosper.
The Public Schools Branch has the authority to make changes to zoning. Government has asked the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture to ensure the Public Schools Branch provides timely, thorough information to families and educators on the rezoning changes approved by the Board.
“Educational excellence must be centred on the child, family, educators and the community,” said Minister Currie. “Although challenges remain, Islanders have told us through this extraordinary process of engagement that they want to have time to achieve their visions for their communities. Now that Islanders have taken on this challenge we want to give them the opportunity to succeed.”
Student Well-being Supports
“Families made it clear through the school review that more and better coordinated services are required to meet the growing social and emotional needs of students. Government agrees that achieving excellence in education means supporting the whole child – which includes academic achievement as well as the child’s social and emotional well-being. Providing services in schools – where children are – makes the most sense. Government is committed to expanding these front-line services and a new approach to directly deliver services in schools, while enhancing collaboration between service agencies, and providing more timely access for youth.”
– Education and Early Learning Minister Doug Currie
New supports for students will be introduced, building on government’s recently-released Mental Health Strategy. These changes will be fully implemented over three years, beginning with the Montague and Westisle Families of Schools this fall. These initiatives will reduce wait times, improve service coordination, increase awareness of supports available, increase the focus on prevention, and ultimately result in better outcomes for youth and families.
Student well-being is one of the education system’s three overarching goals. It was also identified as a major priority by the Learning Partners Advisory Council, the Principals Council and the District Advisory Councils.
All councils agree that more supports could help students with challenges that impact their achievement, and support teachers with the growing complexity in Island classrooms.
Government is responding by expanding and enhancing student well-being supports in all Island schools.
Action will be taken in five key areas to improve student well-being:
• establish core service delivery teams in schools;
• improve coordination of community services to make them easier for families to access;
• address identified service gaps in communities;
• invest in prevention and early intervention; and
• increase collaboration between schools and agencies that serve children and families.
Core service delivery school teams will include a Mental Health Therapist, School Nurses and Youth Workers. Key support resources will be reviewed across the province. Additional resources will be added where gaps have been identified, including alternative education programs and occupational therapy services.
Principals and staff will play an integral role in this new approach, working closely with the core school teams to identify and meet the needs of children, youth and their families.
New health curriculum in elementary and intermediate schools will focus on health promotion.
Access to family support programs will be increased, including the Strongest Families, Telehealth Service, and the Triple P parenting program.
“This process and the level of engagement through it led to a much broader discussion beyond schools or infrastructure. Islanders came together to share the passion they have for their communities and their desire to see them grow and prosper. We applaud Islanders and communities for this passion and are glad they are up for the challenge. In order for our province to thrive and for Islanders across the province to benefit, all regions must be strong and working together to seize opportunities for growth. We have built an economy that is balanced, connected and growing. We must continue this work to advance growth and prosperity across our mighty province.”
– Premier Wade MacLauchlan
Communities have told Government through this extraordinary process of engagement that they want to have time to achieve their visions for their communities. Now that Islanders have taken on this challenge, Government wants to give them the opportunity to succeed.
To support the work of Islanders in growing their communities and local economies, government will establish four new regional economic advisory councils – West Prince, East Prince, Central and East. These councils will guide, develop and help drive economic growth across Prince Edward Island. They will allow for the context, opportunities and challenges of each community to be recognized and prioritized. At the same time there is an interconnection between Island communities that can be strengthened and leveraged to ensure prosperity for all. Islanders will be invited to apply through Engage PEI to serve on the new councils. More details on how Islanders can participate on the councils will be announced in the coming weeks.
The councils will:
- Develop economic growth strategies for each region, identifying strength areas and drawing on existing economic development organizations, as well as municipal and federal government, to ensure a collaborative effort;
- Identify platforms and clusters and advise on growth and investment opportunities in these sectors;
- Identify youth entrepreneurship activity;
- Provide strategic advice and initiatives to retain Islanders and enhance population growth;
- Advise on strategic infrastructure development that supports growth;
- Report to Cabinet Ministers with economic portfolios;
- Be supported by staff within the Departments of Economic Development and Tourism, and Rural and Regional Development; and
- Consist of 5-7 community members.