Minister meets with NWT Education Leaders to discuss initiatives aimed at improving student success
Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) Minister Caroline Cochrane met with leaders of territorial education bodies during the first week of October to discuss progress.
Leaders had previously identified the need to improve different supports to students in order to increase their success. They discussed the importance of mental health supports and received an update from the Minister of Health and Social Services, the Honourable Glen Abernethy, who joined the meeting to speak to leaders on the inclusion of child and youth care counsellors in school support teams. This initiative, in partnership with ECE and Education Bodies, is part of the Youth Mental Health Strategy. It has rolled out this year beginning in the Dehcho and the Tłı̨chǫ regions and will be extended to all other regions over the next three years. There was a great deal of interest and enthusiasm for the planning of a territory-wide roll out of these additional resources and education leaders are actively involved in helping to shape this work.
Building on the group’s recognition of improved supports for students, Education Leaders received a briefing on Northern Distance Learning which will be available in more small communities this school year. Leaders were pleased with the increased opportunities this initiative brings students to participate in high school courses in their home communities. Leaders cited examples of student success in Ulukhaktok and Fort Liard. Challenges were discussed regarding aligning all school calendars in order to allow for full student participation in this program. Leaders agreed this issue needs further work and discussion on committed collaboration to address this issue.
New funding has also been allotted for staffing of six territorial Career and Education Advisors which will enable students and youth to receive advice and guidance to help them focus their course choices in areas that will allow them to pursue their chosen career. To support this, a presentation on high school pathways provided leaders with information on proposed new ways to exit high school with the right courses, supports and information to move students towards those choices. A public communications plan was discussed and leaders emphasized the importance of including students and parents in the consultation. Public dialogue will begin this school year.
Education leaders brought forward the issue of managing awareness of the legalization of cannabis in schools. Much work has been done by ECE on the compilation of information for students, teachers and parents so they are fully aware of the regulations surrounding the matter. Minister Cochrane directed that this information should be circulated well in advance of the October 17th legalization date. It was agreed that all education bodies will share the finalized information with schools and that department officials will be available to answer any questions superintendents may have.
The national teacher shortage and how to recruit and retain good teachers was an issue for education leaders. There was some discussion of intensifying efforts to attract and recruit teachers including actively participating in national job forums. Teacher housing was also an issue particularly in small communities where housing is scarce. ECE works collaboratively with the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation (NWTHC) on opportunities to develop more sustainable housing. The NWTHC has been increasing the level of market rental housing in communities to respond to the housing needs of community workers.
Leaders agreed the two-day meeting was helpful to their efforts to improve student success in their communities and were generally pleased with the progress being made.
“I was very pleased at the positive and intelligent discussion Education Leaders and I had around many issues of interest and concern. Everyone was completely engaged in working toward student success and not only brought questions but solutions to the table. This is a very cohesive and productive group that I am proud to be part of. I am confident that our continued dialogue will bring about very positive change in education.”
– Caroline Cochrane, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
“A particular area of interest for Education Leaders is the meaningful inclusion of indigenous culture and practices when planning the work of the child and youth care counsellors. We were glad to be able to speak to both Minister Cochrane and Minister Abernethy about this and that they both immediately saw the value and assistance Indigenous Elders will bring to this work.”
– Ted Blondin, Chair, Tłįchǫ Community Services Agency
For more information contact:
Chair, Board of Trustees
Yellowknife Education District No. 1
Ph: (867) 766-5050
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Department of Education, Culture and Employment
Ph: (867)767- 9352 ext. 71073