Parksville-Qualicum Beach schools are ready to open doors

Grady Dragani plays in his mom’s Grade 1 classroom at Parksville Elementary School. He’s entering Kindergarten at the school this year. That’s his little sister Lynden, 2, in the background hamming it up. - Lissa Alexander
Grady Dragani plays in his mom’s Grade 1 classroom at Parksville Elementary School. He’s entering Kindergarten at the school this year. That’s his little sister Lynden, 2, in the background hamming it up.
— image credit: Lissa Alexander

On September 4 students will return to the classrooms, begin their regular routines, and all will appear as normal. But if you take a closer look there are actually big changes happening, and superintendent Jim Ansell is welcoming them.

“We’re in a significant time of change in education,” he said.  Ansell explained that breaking subjects down into “discrete focus areas” separate from each other only happens in schools, where the real world is about problem solving and “inquiring into situations.” New curriculum, he said, will reflect this.

For example Grade 7 science students will have five big open-ended questions they will be expected to have some understanding of by the time they finish the school year. Questions like: the earth is made is made up of tectonic plates; what does that mean, how do they work and how does that impact life on the planet?

This is a welcome change, Ansell said, where the current Grade 2 language arts curriculum has 97 different outcomes that students are supposed to accomplish in that one course alone.

“That’s absurd,” said Ansell, “I couldn’t even imagine what 97 things Grade 2’s should be able to do.”

The new curriculum will give much broader flexibility to teachers, he said, and move away from textbook-based learning into real practical learning that “engages kids and is much more hands-on and interesting.”

Another change is how student’s success is measured, Ansell said, explaining success doesn’t always translate to going to university and instead is measured in much broader terms.

This year that means more scholarships for grads in non-academic areas which will move away from scholarships based on provincial exams and concentrate more on student’s success, Ansell said. Close to 3,000 scholarships provincewide are being taken out of the academic category and given to districts to distribute across the spectrum of students he said, to support future learning in a variety of areas.

To help kids and parents transition to back to school Ansell recommends getting children back into a regular routine as soon as possible. He also encourages lots of communication with the schools and teachers to keep things flowing smoothly. He said this is an exciting time for children, and also for teachers and staff as they prepare at the schools.

“There’s a real enthusiasm and a real positive energy in all the schools right now and we’re really looking forward to a great school year.”

Schools re-open September 4 and start one hour later and finish one hour earlier than normal.

The first day for Grades 10-12 at Ballenas and Kwalicum Secondary schools is Sept. 5.

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