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July 20, 2009
For immediate release
Government Commits to Full-Day School-Based Kindergarten in 2010
Education and Early Childhood Development
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Following the release of the Public Kindergarten Commissioner’s report in Summerside today, Premier Robert Ghiz advised that Government has endorsed the direction of the report. Recommendations that require further analysis or consultation will be considered by groups of educator, parent and partner representatives.
Premier Ghiz commended Commissioner Pat Mella on an excellent report. “When we asked Ms. Mella to do this work, we had high expectations for the product she would deliver. As expected, she has produced a thoughtful and comprehensive report that addresses all the issues and is based on the most current research and extensive consultation,” said the Premier. “The Commissioner’s recommendations and research will be of tremendous assistance as we begin a new era of early learning that offers more opportunities for Island children to flourish and thrive.”
Government has approved the recommendation that kindergarten will be a full-day, mandatory program for the full school year.
Existing kindergarten teachers will be considered first for the new teaching positions in the school system.
Each kindergarten teacher will teach a maximum of 15 students.
The play-based curriculum that was recently developed by Island kindergarten educators will continue to be used. The curriculum is based on the philosophy that five-year-olds learn through play, and that they can best learn skills and concepts through active exploration, discovery and hands-on involvement.
Premier Ghiz said that while people are excited about moving kindergarten to schools, many are also concerned about the impact this will have on the early childhood sector. “Government understands the vital importance of early childhood education. We are committed to working closely with the sector to identify and address training needs. We are also prepared to fund a comprehensive review that will determine the short and long-term needs of the sector and policy direction to support a vibrant and sustainable early learning and child care system.”
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Gerard Greenan said the many strengths of the existing kindergarten program will be retained. “The people who work with young children in our province have a great deal of specialized knowledge and they are extremely dedicated to children,” he said. “It will be our priority to preserve these strengths as we strive to make our excellent early learning services even better.”
A Kindergarten Transition Team and nine work groups will begin immediately to draft action plans in such areas as supports for students with special needs, teacher training programs and certification levels, and transition issues for early childhood centres.
Collaborative work groups include representatives of government, school boards, UPEI, Holland College, Collège Acadie, Early Childhood Development Association, Early Learning Operators of PEI, CUPE, PEI Teachers’ Federation, PEI Home and School Federation, Féderation des parents and Canadian Parents for French.
To view the report: Every Child a Better Future, Public Kindergarten Commissioner Report
• In April 2008 responsibility for early childhood was moved from the Department of Social Services and Seniors to the Department of Education to support the development of an integrated early learning and public school system.
• Also in April 2008 Government made a commitment in the Throne Speech to bring kindergarten into the school system following a thorough, careful, and sensitive consultation process.
• In May 2008 Premier Ghiz appointed Pat Mella as Public Kindergarten Commissioner with a mandate to recommend the orderly transition of kindergarten into the school system by 2010.
• In June 2008 the Commissioner began her consultations which included 25 visits to early childhood centres and schools; seven public meetings; and 17 consultations with early childhood operators and organizations, post-secondary institutions, unions, parent organizations, school board and department staff.
• In July 2008 changes to the age of kindergarten and school entry were made to allow more children to benefit from structured early learning environments.
• In the spring of 2009 Government announced plans to add the following space for kindergarten:
- four new classrooms at École François-Buote at a cost of $600,000
- 11 new kindergarten classrooms at Westwood Primary at a cost of $2.4 million
- a new $8.7 million grades 4-6 school at Glen Stewart Elementary which will allow the existing school to become a K-3 facility.
• Kindergarten enrolment in 2008-2009 was 1,480. It is expected to rise to 1,540 next year and level off to approximately 1,450 in 2010-2011.
• Of the 83 kindergarten programs now in place, 18 are located in English schools and six are located in French first language school community centres. In West Prince and Kings County, three-quarters of all children are served in kindergarten programs that are located in schools.
• In September 2008 PEI implemented a full integrated play-based kindergarten curriculum. Research strongly supports this curriculum because it responds to how children learn best at age 4 and 5. The PEI curriculum was developed by early childhood educators. It encompasses a full range of learning domains including early literacy and numeracy, social studies, science, creativity and health and physical development. It uses natural situations and play activities and does not separate learning experiences into subjects taught in isolation. Play is not simply what children do when the work is all done. Through play, children make sense of their world and who they are within it.