North

Whitehorse school scraps French immersion 'contract'

F.H. Collins high school in Whitehorse has cancelled a "contract" sent home this month with French immersion students, after some parents raised concerns.

'Discussions about the contract were distracting from what is most important — student learning'

Students in the French immersion program at F.H. Collins high school in Whitehorse were asked earlier this month to sign a contract to minimize their use of English in the classroom. Some parents objected. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

A Whitehorse high school has scrapped a controversial "French immersion language contract" that was given to students earlier this month.

The contract outlined how teachers in the program at F.H. Collins Secondary School would begin keeping a record of each time a student used English in class. Parents would then be notified after a student's third time speaking English.

The errant student would then have to do a project to demonstrate their commitment to the program.

Some parents balked, saying the contract seemed "punitive."

In a written statement this week, F.H. Collins Principal Jay Thomas said it's now been dropped. He said some parents liked the contract, others had questions, and a "small number" expressed concern.

"We recognized that discussions about the contract were distracting from what is most important — student learning," the statement reads.

"As a result, we decided to withdraw the contract at this time in order to have further conversations with parents, students and staff about addressing this issue, which may or may not include a type of contract or agreement."

The contract outlined how teachers in the French immersion program would begin keeping a record of each time a student used English in class. Parents were to be notified after three instances. (CBC)

According to Thomas, the school's French immersion teachers were concerned because students are using more English in class. The teachers came up with the contract as a way of promoting and encouraging fluency in French. 

Thomas's statement say the "spirit of the contract will remain in effect," by finding ways to encourage French in the classroom, and improving communication between teachers, students and parents.

There are 255 Grade 8 to Grade 12 students enrolled in French immersion at F.H. Collins. It's the only secondary school in Whitehorse to offer French immersion. 

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