Curriculum development update
Curriculum change is underway in BC and includes positive aspects, as well as outstanding concerns.
Since 2013, teachers and Ministry of Education staff have been revising the current curriculum. Teams of teachers appointed by the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), the Federation of Independent School Associations BC, and the First Nations Schools Association have worked collaboratively, with Ministry staff facilitating, to
update the K–9 curriculum. Work on the first drafts of the new Grades 10–12 curriculum is now posted.
aim to simplify and deepen curriculum
In general, the revisions are intended to make the curricula more manageable for teachers, and to provide more opportunities for teachers and students to focus on particular topics of interest in their schools and communities. The learning outcomes in
several subject areas have been reduced, providing more time and flexibility to explore topics in depth.
Currently posted on the Ministry’s
Transforming Curriculum and Assessment web page are the new Core Competencies and 11 curriculum drafts for the following subject areas:
- arts education
- applied design, skills, and technology
- career education
- core French
- English language arts
- Français langue première
- Français langue seconde-immersion
- physical and health education
- social studies.
Use of new curriculum is voluntary
Teachers and school districts received information from the Ministry emphasizing the voluntary, exploratory nature of the draft curriculum for the 2015–16 year. If you wish, you are free to explore the new curriculum, but no one is required to use it this school year and no one should feel pressured to do so. The Ministry
has communicated this message to superintendents as well, so there should be no confusion about this issue. As with all other changes in our day-to-day working lives, teachers are encouraged to use school-based union meetings and staff committee meetings to discuss the issues arising from these significant
Aboriginal content interwoven
The BCTF strongly supports inclusion of Aboriginal content and understandings across the curriculum. This long-overdue development builds upon work the Federation has already done in supporting employment equity, enhancement agreements, and changes to teacher training programs. Following on the landmark
Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, now is an important time to focus on education for reconciliation.
The BCTF has been advocating for the time and resources teachers need to ensure they are well supported as the new curriculum is implemented. Two additional in-service days have been added to this school year and two days over each of the next two years. The framework for the in-service will be collaborated on
between the BCTF and the Ministry.
BCTF reps will continue to emphasize the important distinction between implementation funding and teachers’ autonomous use of professional development funding.
The process of education change in BC is multifaceted and complex. Some changes are positive, but many ongoing concerns and unanswered questions remain. Support for special education is one key area of concern. Many teachers have heard that the current special education categories—and the funding that flows from them—will
be eliminated. A decategorized model for special education raises disturbing issues about how the needs of these students will be met.
In addition, there is a lack of clarity about the scope of changes contemplated for students in the senior secondary grades. Teachers are worried that the main objective is to fast track students into apprenticeships or the work force in order to further reduce education expenditures. To learn more about the
Ministry’s proposed directions, see
Graduation Years Curriculum: Proposed Directions. Teachers require more information about the organizational framework for the graduation years.
In BC, as in countries around the globe, teachers and their unions are deeply concerned about the increasing pressures toward privatization and commercialization of public education. Members are encouraged to be aware of these ongoing intrusions into quality public education. We need to continue
promoting the importance and values of public education as outlined in the
Charter for Public Education.
Dealing with questions from parents
If parents of your students come to you with questions about curriculum change, it’s a good idea to direct them to district administrators or the Ministry itself for information. Teachers should feel free to be straightforward with parents in expressing their concerns. As well, you may want to explain that for
curriculum change to be successful, resources and support are required—including support for students with special needs.
The BCTF will keep you informed on an ongoing basis as the process of curriculum change unfolds. Watch for webinars, provincial specialist associations’ activities, and other supports. Additionally, you may contact your local executive committee with any questions about the draft curriculum.
As the redesigned curriculum is in draft format, all current provincial curricula and provincial examinations remain in place.