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PRIORITIES FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

A Brief to the Ministry of Education from the BC Teachers’ Federation, August 2017 

Curriculum Change: Process, Content, and Timing

The issue

Since 2012, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has been advocating for a curriculum implementation plan from the Ministry of Education. Key issues that have been raised, and are ongoing, include the following:

  • responsible implementation timelines that will ensure successful and sustainable implementation
  • funding, development, and distribution of accurate, up-to-date, and inclusive teaching and learning resources in French and English to all communities around the province
  • facilitation of ongoing teacher collaboration and planning at both district and school levels through time for in-service, as well as a clear commitment to funding and support for curriculum development and implementation
  • dedicated time for teachers to explore and collaborate on the transition from a content-focused curriculum to one that is more student and competency focused, maximizing the potential of a less prescriptive curriculum, opportunities for local decision-making, and depth of study
  • ongoing teacher engagement in new facets of the curriculum, including the integration of Aboriginal ways of knowing, the finalization of the core competencies, sexual health components of the new physical and health education curriculum, addressing potential inequities in access to the new applied design, skills, and technologies curriculum, and the heightened focus on careers
  • clear and ongoing communication to districts, teachers, and the public regarding curriculum change.

Background

Curriculum change in BC is taking place on an unprecedented scale. Teachers have been actively involved in writing the revised curricula, and have enjoyed a good working relationship with the Ministry in developing an innovative, revised curriculum for the province. As development moves into implementation, we need to reaffirm the commitment made by the BCTF, the Ministry of Education, the BC School Superintendents’ Association, and the BC Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association that “curriculum implementation is an ongoing process built around cumulative, reflective practice supported by all learning partners” (Curriculum Framework Document, Stage One). We have a mutual interest in ensuring that implementation is successful and sustainable. System-wide change done well requires time, support, resources, and strong working relationships. It also needs teacher expertise that is shared collaboratively in districts and schools.

Key recommendations

Recommendation 1

Ensure ongoing and representative teacher participation in the process of curriculum change. The Ministry has publicly recognized the crucial role that BCTF members have played in the process of curriculum change to date. The BCTF has well-established and successful participation protocols to ensure the active and equitable representation of teachers at all levels of curriculum change. The BCTF is committed to communicating these protocols to all divisions of the Ministry.   

Recommendation 2

Establish a clear, realistic, and multi-year curriculum implementation plan. The BCTF calls upon the Ministry to instate an immediate pause on all curriculum change initiatives until a clear and realistic curriculum implementation plan is in place for the next five to ten years. This plan should be developed in collaboration with all partners and be clearly communicated to districts, teachers, and the public. 

Recommendation 3

Sustainably fund curriculum change. To date, the Ministry has only committed $25.6 million for curriculum implementation (2015–18), $4 million of which is specifically for coding. This number is grossly inadequate for the curricular materials, technology, and sustained teacher collaboration and planning required at both school and district levels to make curriculum change a success. The multi-year curriculum implementation plan must make clear commitments to funding and support for curriculum change, including the following:

  • additional non-instructional days during the 2017–18, 2018–19, and 2019–20 school years
  • extending and supporting the successful collaborative model developed in 2015 for joint district and local planning for the additional non-instructional days, in which local teacher associations took the leadership role within districts
  • sustained consultation with local communities and nations on approaches to integrating Aboriginal ways of knowing into the curriculum
  • development and distribution of accurate, up-to-date, and inclusive teaching and learning resources to all schools around the province, including culturally appropriate materials to support the integration of Aboriginal ways of knowing into the curriculum at all grade levels
  • equitable access to technological networks, supports, and tools that meet curricular demands
  • ensuring access to a wide variety of professional development and in-service opportunities in all regions of the province to support implementation of the revised curriculum and other ongoing needs
  • working with the BCTF and other organizations to develop and make available accurate, up-to-date, and inclusive materials and in-service for the sexual health curriculum.

Overall, teachers who are actively engaged and well supported in the change process will have the time, resources, and conditions necessary to meet the needs of all students in their care and make curriculum change a success in BC.

Further reading

Curriculum framework documents (produced by the BCTF, the Ministry of Education, the BC School Superintendents’ Association, and the BC Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association)

Education Change Bulletin (informs teachers about education change)

Letters sent by the BCTF to the Ministry advocating for the successful implementation of curriculum change, 2012 to present

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