(File photo)

French Immersion program at Vanderhoof high school undergoing changes

The program will no longer be offered to grade 7 and 8 students at Nechako Valley Secondary School.

The French Immersion program for grade 7 and 8 at Nechako Valley Secondary School has been discontinued, as per a Board of Education update from SD91 officials.

The program at NVSS did not operate this year because of the district’s “inability” to hire a qualified French Immersion teacher, stated a May 12 press release from SD91.

Instead, the Vanderhoof based high school has moved to offering enhanced French language opportunities for their middle year learners.

Ken Young, principal of Nechako Valley Secondary School said,”It is truly difficult for us to lose the French Immersion program here at NVSS for our Grades 7 and 8.”

He said staff hoped that they would be able to work through the shortage of staff for the French program, “but it became evident to not only the consultant, but staff at the school as well that the lack of French Immersion specialists across the province (even nationally), would cause problems in ensuring staffing would be in place year to year.”

In terms of the French language opportunities for middle school learners, Young said, “As we transitioned from a full French Immersion program this year to an English program for our students in Middle Years, we provided our former French Immersion students in 7/8 with a more suitable level of French (Francais Langue) for their skill set than the core French option could provide. This option will then transition their language learning to Francais Langue (for grades) 9/10/11/12.”

The decision to discontinue the program was passed by the The Board of Education on May 11, 2020.

The process to conduct a comprehensive review of French Immersion programming in SD91 started in the Fall of 2019. This program is offered at SD91 schools in Burns Lake and Vanderhoof.

So last Fall, the school district hired Anne Cooper from AZ Cooper Consulting to conduct the review and report recommendations. After recommendations were received in April, the board reached out to parents, students and the community before they took their decision on May 11 to cancel the French Immersion program for grade 7 and 8 students.

The second motion passed by the Board of Education was to table a final decision on the recommendation for the William Konkin Elementary program until “a time when BC education has returned to normal operations after the health pandemic.”

Meanwhile, as a result of these decisions, schools will continue planning for 2020/21 school year based on “current programming, budgeting and enrollments.”

“The Board of Education would like to thank everyone for the feedback over the past few weeks and they acknowledge and appreciate the current challenges for students and families. Any future processes regarding French Immersion at William Konkin will be shared publicly to allow notice and an opportunity for continued feedback,” the May 12 press release stated.

Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express


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