News Release Archive

As students pack up their books at the end of another school
year, their principals, teachers and the Department of Education
and Culture are busy making plans for the fall.

One focus for school improvement will be increased support for
students during the critical middle years, Education and Culture
Minister Robbie Harrison announced today. He said the ideas will
grow from the schools themselves, supported in partnership with
school boards and the department.

"Anyone who has taught or has a child in junior high -- or
recalls their own school experience -- knows how challenging, yet
important, these years are," Mr. Harrison said. "We want to ask
principals, teachers, school advisory councils: how can we
provide more support and leadership at the junior high grades?"

Mr. Harrison said many principals and teachers are already doing
some exceptional work in middle years education. "We need to
support and nurture these champions, identify best practices, and
set up a network where educators and parents can share their
success stories to benefit more students in more schools."

For example, many schools have adopted "team-teaching," an
approach that allows teachers to instruct fewer students in more
subject areas. Students develop closer relationships with their
teachers and peers. And teachers come to know individual students
better as learners and provide them with more personal attention
and learning opportunities.

Junior high schools have been invited to submit proposals on
their "best practices" for school improvement. In October,
schools co-operating in the first stage of the project will be
identified and will receive support to put their ideas to work.

Throughout the next school year, the department and school boards
will arrange symposiums for the co-operating schools to share
what they're doing and learning.

A group of principals and other partners have already begun to
plan these initiatives with the department. Scott Milner,
principal at E. B. Chandler Junior High School in Amherst,
welcomed the department's leadership in this area.

"This new interest in the middle level recognizes that
adolescents have unique educational needs," Mr. Milner said.
"This proactive initiative by the department provides an
excellent opportunity for schools, advisory councils and school
boards to revisit what is happening in junior high schools. We
will be able to respond to the developmental needs by sharing
program ideas that will support and enhance the education of
adolescent learners."

A network of support for co-operating schools will be set up,
leading to a comprehensive Junior High School Network. A
co-ordinator will be appointed to develop partnerships, create
electronic links for information-sharing, organize provincial
conferences over the next three years, and work with school
boards and other education partners in supporting initiatives.

Elizabeth Hartt, chair of the school advisory council for South
Queens Junior High, called the project an exciting opportunity
for councils to make the most of their involvement in their

"Through advisory councils, teachers can work with parents,
community members and students themselves as they collectively
decide what will work best in their particular school," she said.

"The councils will also play an important communications role in
explaining the reasons behind any changes, so that changes
encouraged by this junior high initiative will take place
smoothly as young people make the transition from elementary
through to high school and beyond."

Research will be carried out to add to what schools are "learning
by doing." As a starting point, a paper on current and emerging
research in successful junior high schools will be released in


Contact: Doug Hadley
         Education and Culture

NOTE TO EDITORS: Principals from each regional school board and
le Conseil scolaire acadien provincial took part in a focus group
on this initiative. For contact names, please call Doug Hadley.

trp                       June 24, 1997 - 1 p.m.