Dozens turn out for meeting about French Immersion program

Adam MacInnis
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There were few empty seats in the A.G. Baillie gymnasium as parents gathered for a meeting about the future of French immersion in Pictou County.

Scott Milner, director of educational services speaks at a meeting about French Immersion.

Changes are being considered that could mean phasing out the Middle French Immersion Program and replacing it with either Early or Late Immersion or Integrated French.

The Chignecto Central Regional School Board says the reason they are looking at the possibility of phasing out the Middle French immersion program, which starts in Grade 4 is because of declining enrolment and the extra costs associated with that.

Scott Milner, director of Education Services said the ideal class size is around 25. He explained that if there aren’t that many in a middle immersion class, it could mean they have to hire an extra teacher, which is why this can be costly. 

The Middle French Immersion Program is now a French Second Language Program within the Nova Scotia Public School Programs.

There are three options the board presented as possibilities, although they said the final decision may not be limited to just those, as they will be taking into account public input.

The first option would keep things the same for the schools feeding into North Nova with middle immersion still offered at Frank H. MacDonald and A.G. Baillie while it would be eliminated from West Pictou, which feeds into Northumberland Regional High School.

The second option would phase out middle immersion all together and start late immersion in Grade 7 for both North Nova and Northumberland.

The third option would see early immersion start at A.G. Baillie and late immersion at East Pictou and New Glasgow Academy, which would carry on at North Nova. For schools feeding into Northumberland Middle Immersion would be phased out and replaced with Integrated French, which has students start in Grade 7 and receive up to 25 per cent of their instruction in French.

Parents expressed concerns about losing the middle immersion program. Several expressed concerns that the program isn’t adequately promoted. Others wondered why it seemed that the western portion of the county seemed to be getting less consideration when West Pictou has had some of the most consistent numbers in its program.

Another meeting will be held next week at Frank H. MacDonald. After that there will be a school board educational committee meeting on Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. that the public can present at and then also the school board meeting on Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. where they can express concerns. A decision is expected to be made at the January meeting about what to do moving forward.

The board is looking to get as much input as possible before making a decision. If you’d like to write a comment to them you can email it to buottmathesond@ccrsb.ca or by mail to Debbie Buott-Matheson, CCRSB Communications Manager, 60 Lorne Street, Truro, NS, B2N 3K3.

 

CCRSB French programs currently

Courtesy of CCRSB

 

Compulsory French Program

Core French: Mandatory class for Grade 4 through Grade 9. For Grade 10 to 12 Core French is an elective and is offered when enrolment permits.

 

Optional French Programs

Early Immersion  (Grade Primary point of entry)

• Grades P to 9 – Majority of instructional time in French

• In senior high, nine French Immersion credits are necessary for completion certificate

 

Middle Immersion  (Grade 4 point of entry)

• Grades 4-9 – Majority of instructional time in French

• In senior high, nine French immersion credits are necessary for completion certificate

Late Immersion (Grade 7 point of entry)

• Grade 7-9 – Majority of instructional time is in French

• In senior high, nine French Immersion credits are necessary for completion certificate

 

Integrated French (Grade 7 point of entry)

• Middle level – up to 25 per cent of instructional time in French language arts and French social studies.

• In senior high, six integrated French credits are necessary for completion certificate

Organizations: Chignecto Central Regional School Board, Northumberland Regional High School, East Pictou and New Glasgow Academy

Geographic location: North Nova, Nova Scotia, Northumberland

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