Nova Scotia

Input from teachers, parents and students will guide N.S. education system, says minister

Education Minister Becky Druhan says including more voices in the decision-making process will be a key pillar of how the Progressive Conservatives run the province's schools, but whether that includes the return of elected school boards remains unclear.

'We are very interested in and absolutely need to hear from stakeholders within the system,' says Becky Druhan

Education Minister Becky Druhan is shown at the cabinet swearing in on Aug. 31, 2021. Druhan says visiting classrooms and sitting in on teacher staff meetings will help her understand what the day-to-day issues are in the education system. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Education Minister Becky Druhan says including more voices in the decision-making process will be a key pillar of how the Progressive Conservatives run the province's schools, but whether that includes the return of elected school boards remains unclear.

"We are very interested in and absolutely need to hear from stakeholders within the system, and that's teachers and principals and other staff, as well as families and students," she said.

On Thursday, the ministerial mandate letters for Druhan and her cabinet colleagues were released. They include what's expected of them by Premier Tim Houston during the government's mandate. Each is tasked with putting together a timeline for the work within the next 90 days.

"The education system is more than about just teaching students to go out and get jobs and do jobs, it's about creating and supporting students to become engaged and educated citizens," said Druhan.

Druhan has been asked to:

  • Review and update the curriculum for literacy, civics, environmental stewardship, physical activity, healthy living and diversity, including residential school education.
  • Spend time in schools and classrooms, have regular meetings with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and virtually sit in on at least one school staff meeting per week.
  • Set a goal of having 40 per cent diverse enrolment in the high school skilled trades programming by year four of the government's first mandate.

Teachers' union president Paul Wozney said holding regular meetings should help set up a framework for collaborative change.

"I think attending staff meetings and being present in schools is going to build faith that she [Druhan] really understands from a first-voice perspective that file she's been entrusted to provide leadership over," he said.

"Connecting with people who do the work can only serve to inform how you go about your work and lead change."

Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Paul Wozney says he appreciates the efforts by the province to improve communication and collaboration with the union. (CBC)

Wozney said teachers should have more ownership of the direction the education system goes in.

"They believe in a change because they've had an opportunity to influence its development and they see value in the change that's coming and are willing participants," he said. "In my mind, that's when you get transformative change in social institutions like public education."

Wozney said the previous Liberal government was "very autocratic."

By the eight-month mark, Druhan must provide a public update on the progress achieved on implementing the recommendations from the inclusive education report.

Released in March 2018, the five-year plan calls for improved training for teachers and support workers, more specialists, and improved co-operation with the departments of Education, Health, Community Services and Justice.

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