(Fellow parents – We’d like your help in promoting French immersion at the Grade 1 level to parents who might want their children to be educated in French but did not enter at the kindergarten level. Backgrounder below, it’s a little long — jump to the end if you’d like. Really appreciate any help that you can provide. Thanks, Gord.)
It has been a long nine months since we were informed that Trafalgar was one of five Vancouver elementary schools losing a French immersion kindergarten class. Although discovering the reasons behind this decision was a frustrating exercise, the process showed what a passionate, engaged and determined community we have at Trafalgar.
We learned that although there were many contributing factors (details here and here), a critical issue was lack of staff. As of May 31st last year, even after reducing five kindergarten classes, there were 15 full-time French immersion positions to be filled for the 2017-2018 school year.
As the school year started in September, it was clear that the VSB had been unable to fill those positions and would not be able to restore the kindergarten classes this fall. Throughout the fall, we continued to remind the board of their stated commitment to the French immersion program. Numerous stakeholders encouraged the board to take steps to improve their recruitment process.
The board has recently stated that due to issues hiring qualified staff, they do not expect to be able to restore these kindergarten classes for the 2018-2019 school year. As of January 12th, they were still short the equivalent of 9 full-time positions for French immersion across the district (details here).
This news is both disappointing and concerning (and leads directly to my ask).
- It is disappointing that the board has been unable to hire enough French immersion teachers. Although we recognize that hiring should be a slow, careful process, there have been anecdotes of qualified FI teachers being turned away from our district only to be offered positions elsewhere. We’ve asked the board to investigate what might be occurring in these cases.
- It is concerning that schools like Trafalgar might have a second year with a reduced kindergarten intake. One immediate concern that was raised by the school community is that a single kindergarten class would inevitably lead to a single class in every following grade, shrinking the size of the program. The board response was “there will be sufficient uptake at the Grade 1 level to fill (those) classes”.Faced with a second year of a reduced kindergarten class, we have expressed our concerns to the board that there will not be sufficient interest to sustain the program at Trafalgar and other schools. We are concerned that the program will shrink in size.
Parents, this is where you come in. Although we’ve asked the board to monitor registrations and promote FI Grade 1 entry if registrations look like they are falling short, you can help by making your social circle aware of this opportunity.
- There are more spots open for children to enter French immersion in Grade 1 than in previous years at Trafalgar and other schools that lost a kindergarten class last year.
- Registration for FI Grade 1 is open until the end of March.
- More information and the registration form is available on the VSB website