Heavy lifting ahead in new curriculum

A new curriculum is being introduced into B.C. schools this year, as an option in the elementary grades, but the real “heavy lifting”...

A new curriculum is being introduced into B.C. schools this year, as an option in the elementary grades, but the real “heavy lifting” in school reform will come in the next two years.

That’s when the province’s high school curriculum will get its overhaul, and Jan Unwin, the former superintendent of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District who is now an architect of a new curriculum, says the stakes are higher.

Unwin is the Education Ministry’s superintendent of graduation and student transitions, having left School District No. 42 in 2013 for the new challenge.

The new curriculum gives teachers flexibility and choice in how they choose to engage their children in learning.

“We’ve moving away from teachers feeling they have to cover curriculum,” she said. “It’s a new way of doing business.”

For the present school year, the new curriculum is optional for K-9 teachers, a “play-around year,” Unwin calls it.

Next year it will be mandatory across the province, and the high school curriculum will be at the introductory phase.

In the third year of the curriculum overhaul, changes in high school will also be mandatory.

Unwin gives a lot of credit for the work to the province’s teachers, who played a key role in developing the new plan for education, over a period of years.

But the graduation years loom – the “leaving years” from Grades 10-12.

“There’s more at stake there,” said Unwin. “And it’s much more content driven.”

The architects of the new curriculum will also need a buy-in from post-secondary institutions, and Unwin said there is ongoing dialogue between the ministry and universities.

The move away from letter grades is less controversial at the elementary level, but some people can’t imagine high school without letter grades. It will be impossible for universities to decide who they should admit, they say.

What’s more, Unwin said the new curriculum, with an approach that tailors learning to the student, should allow “way more” students to be successful in high school. So universities will need to develop systems that screen for the students they want.

“The big idea is that everyone [post secondary institutions] want kids to come to them and have their best chance at success.”

Unwin anticipates the curriculum to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

She agrees the province will need to support teachers in their changing role, and coming reforms would benefit from a “skookum implementation plan.”

A plan of support is needed.

“It’s almost a shift in identity from a teacher of content to a coach, mentor and activator.”

Unwin said B.C. educators are not necessarily forerunners in their new approach. Ontario and Alberta have been doing similar work.

“It’s definitely not a B.C. phenomenon,” she said. “But you need to develop the model yourself. You have all your own nuances and culture in the province.”


Just Posted

Pitt Meadows woman arrested after violent car robbery in Richmond

The woman along with a 28-year-old man from Delta arrested in Vancouver

Four officers at Maple Ridge’s regional prison charged with assault

Case in Port Coquitlam court adjourned until February.

Medical causes behind death in Memorial Peace Park

Happened early Saturday in downtown

People asked to report any cougar sightings in east Maple Ridge

WildsafeBC asks people to keep attractants in

Pitt Meadows council allows electronic attendance

Members of the public opposed, veteran councillors say change is not new

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

South Surrey mother didn’t have the intent to kill her daughter: defence

Closing submissions in case of Lisa Batstone underway

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Most Read