News release

Province Putting Kids and Learning First

From Primary students learning to read, to Grade 12 students preparing for good jobs and higher education, Nova Scotia's children and youth are benefiting from a plan to help every student succeed.

Since Education Minister Ramona Jennex introduced Kids and Learning First in February, the province has launched or expanded initiatives including more help for young readers, more time for math, a new resource for students with autism spectrum disorder, and a credit that encourages high school students to practise leadership in their communities.

"We listened to families, teachers, school boards and community members and came up with a plan to do things differently. Now we're putting it into action," said Ms. Jennex. "I'm pleased with the strides we made this year, but I know there's still more work to do."

The province is doing more to help children before they start school. The Early Years strategy will co-ordinate support for young children and their families, while all children with autism spectrum disorder who need early intervention can now receive it.

In the classroom, Succeeding in Reading reached more than 3,800 students in Grades Primary and 1 in its first year. The program expanded into Grade 2 this fall.

Teachers are training in a new math curriculum that will give students more time to grasp the most important concepts at the right grade level. Starting next fall, students in the Mathematics 10 course will also have twice as much time to learn math in the classroom.

As part of its commitment to support effective teaching, the province hired 73 more teachers in Grades Primary to 3 to keep class sizes low. A working group is developing recommendations to help ensure teachers' educational backgrounds are more consistently aligned with the subjects they are assigned to teach.

Valerie Payn, president of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, says Kids and Learning First has a strong focus on supporting teachers and equipping students for opportunities in Nova Scotia's growing economy.

"Preparing our children to succeed throughout high school and beyond is a vital part of creating a skilled work force and competitive province," said Ms. Payn. "Programs like co-op, skilled trades and personal development bridge the gap between learning and doing, giving students access to mentors in the business and entrepreneurial sectors."

New skilled trades centres announced for Cole Harbour and Forest Heights in Chester Basin will let students explore trades like construction and transportation. The co-op program, which gives students hands-on experience in a workplace, is now available in 85 of the province's 87 high schools.

The new Personal Development Credit allows students to earn a credit for developing skills in leadership, languages and the arts through community-based programs like Junior Achievement and Cadets.

The province is providing more help for students and families who need extra support. SchoolsPlus services like mentoring and parenting workshops are now available in 95 schools, and the province committed $1.4 million for mental health clinicians to work alongside guidance counsellors in all SchoolsPlus schools.

"This new system means so much to our school, and to our community," said Dana Young, student council president at New Germany Rural High School, a SchoolsPlus hub site. "Mental health care will be so much easier for teens in our school to access."

School boards continue to implement Well-Beings, the mental health framework that includes curriculum, counselling support and training for teachers. Twenty-seven schools are using restorative approaches to deal with conflicts, and a province-wide program is being developed.

The province also hired an anti-bullying co-ordinator, introduced legislative changes to address bullying and cyberbullying, and worked with students to develop a public awareness campaign. A provincial action plan will be introduced early next year.

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From Primary students learning to read, to Grade 12 students preparing for good jobs and higher education, Nova Scotia's children and youth are benefiting from a plan to help every student succeed.

Since Education Minister Ramona Jennex introduced Kids and Learning First in February, the province has launched or expanded initiatives including more help for young readers, more time for math, a new resource for students with autism spectrum disorder, and a credit that encourages high school students to practise leadership in their communities.

New skilled trades centres announced for Cole Harbour and Forest Heights in Chester Basin will let students explore trades like construction and transportation. The co-op program, which gives students hands-on experience in a workplace, is now available in 85 of the province's 87 high schools.

The province is also providing more help for students and families who need extra support. SchoolsPlus services like mentoring and parenting workshops are now available in 95 schools. The province also invested 1-point-4 million dollars to place mental health clinicians in SchoolsPlus schools.

Ms. Jennex says the province has listened to parents, teachers, school boards and communities and came up with a plan to do things differently. She says she is pleased with the progress so far but she knows there is still more work to do.

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Media Contact:

Dan Harrison
Department of Education 902-424-8286 E-mail: