Was a little delayed in getting this posted…never the less it is still an important update for those who have been following this issue in Prince Edward Island.
May 6, 2008 – CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — Premier Robert Ghiz and Gerard Greenan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development announced today that Patricia Mella has been appointed Public Kindergarten Commissioner.
As Commissioner, Ms. Mella will carry out her work over the coming year, submitting her report in June 2009. This report shall set out a vision and goals for the kindergarten program and shall recommend a detailed action plan to move kindergarten into the school system by September 2010.
Issues addressed in the report will range from the delivery model and curriculum to credentials for instructors and sensitively addressing the impacts on existing early childhood educators.
“Our goal is to create the best kindergarten system possible for Islanders,” said Premier Ghiz. “I am delighted that Ms. Mella has agreed to take up this challenge. I am confident that Island families and communities and those professionally involved in early childhood education will benefit greatly from her findings and recommendations.”
“I look forward to strategic direction and action plan that Ms. Mella will bring forward as Commissioner,” said Minister Greenan. “I look forward to the input from stakeholders and the general public, as we continue to strengthen our public education system.”
PUBLIC KINDERGARTEN COMMISSIONER
TERMS OF REFERENCE
On April 4, 2008, in the Speech from the Throne, the Province announced its intention to bring Prince Edward Island’s kindergarten system into the public school system. It pledged to achieve this goal within its current term of office, following a thorough, careful, and sensitive consultation process. As well, the Speech from the Throne announced the move of responsibility for early childhood development from the Department of Social Services and Seniors to a new Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
These initiatives offer an opportunity to create the best kindergarten system possible for Islanders – guided by the wealth of recent research knowledge about the early childhood years, and building on the strengths of our existing community-based system and our public school system to capture the best of both worlds. Rigorous study and extensive public engagement is vital to ensure that the full potential of this opportunity is realized, and that the future of every Island child is changed for the better. This work should yield a plan for an orderly transition to the new integrated model that maximizes opportunity and ensures fairness for all involved.
Accordingly, the Government has appointed a Commissioner to oversee this important task. The Commissioner will carry out her work over the coming year, submitting her Report in June 2009. This Report shall set out a vision and goals for the kindergarten program to guide the Province in addressing the full range of issues, including but not limited to those outlined below, and shall recommend a detailed action plan to move kindergarten into the school system by September 2010.
Issues to be addressed include:
• Delivery model: Assess various models of full-day and half-day kindergarten to identify the model that provides an optimal combination of learning outcomes, access, and family strengthening. This assessment will include a consideration as to whether such a program should be mandatory.
• Curriculum: Ensure appropriate kindergarten curriculum is in place using play-based strategies to achieve defined learning outcomes.
• Impacts: Examine implications for existing early childhood education providers and how those can be mitigated.
• Personnel: Define appropriate credentials and licensing requirements for the new kindergarten system; training and bridging systems for existing kindergarten teachers; early childhood training opportunities for existing teachers in the 1-12 system; consequential training needs for staff in the early learning and child care sector.
• Logistics: Integrate kindergarten spaces into schools in the larger context of a rationalization and renewal of educational facilities to address declining enrolment; consider transportation questions.
• Linkages: Integrate the public school kindergarten system with the pre-kindergarten early childhood system, and recommend measures to strengthen those systems as warranted.
• Legislation: Identify necessary legislative changes.
The Commissioner shall develop her own detailed work plan and time frames, as her first task. It is expected that this work will include, although not be limited to, the following elements:
• Review the available literature on early childhood development and learning.
• Carry out an initial stakeholder engagement process, including:
o interviews with key informants throughout the early childhood and public school systems and among community and other stakeholders to initially identify and define the key issues;
o stakeholder focus groups to refine and explore those issues;
o advisory groups to solicit expert input.
• Conduct additional research to investigate the issues identified, and to identify options and best practices, including as deemed necessary:
o further literature review;
o contracting of specific issues to selected experts;
o site visits to other jurisdictions.
• Produce a discussion document outlining the issues, findings, and potential approaches.
• Carry out extensive further public engagement through various processes to be determined, to refine the recommended approach and to build awareness and support.
• Prepare a final report recommending a vision, goals, strategic directions, and action plan.
The Commissioner shall be provided with research support by Executive Council Office, to include a Research Director, and other resources as required by the work plan.