The province announced last December that it would phase out the current French immersion program beginning in September 2023 and replace it with a new program.
At a press conference on Friday, Education and Early Childhood Development Secretary Bill Hogan confirmed that the proposed changes would not go ahead and that the decision was taken following recent public consultations.
The New Brunswick Secretary of Education and Early Childhood Development announces it is shelving its plan to eliminate immersion in English schools.
Photo: Radio Canada
We did some consultations and realized that what we had proposed as a framework wasn’t the best idea for all students, so we won’t do it, he explains.
According to the province, more than 13,000 people took part in these public consultations last month. The minister says her advice has been taken into account. He adds that nearly 400 teachers in the regular English language school program have expressed concern about the reform.
“We realized that this wasn’t the best choice for all of our students. »
– A quote from Bill Hogan, Secretary of State for Education and Early Childhood Development
It is now possible for parents to enroll their children in the immersion program at English schools for next September. This option had been removed since December due to the reform of the programme. The French immersion program is offered to first-year students.
Keep in mind that the reform stipulated that all Kindergarten and 1st grade students in English-speaking schools would spend half the day in French, which is much less than the 80-90% of French instruction that primary school students currently have in immersion classes .
This decision was sharply criticized by several organizations, teachers and students’ parents during recent consultations organized by the province.
The programs need to be improved, says the minister
The minister assures that the issue is not closed. His team will continue to explore options to improve the French immersion program, but this is a long-term process.
We will measure the results and an improvement plan for learning the French language in terms of immersion and [du programme régulier].
Education and Early Child Development Secretary Bill Hogan announced on Friday that reform of France’s immersion program would not go ahead.
Photo: Radio Canada / Alix Villeneuve
Bill Hogan said a committee of teachers, education system stakeholders and parents will be formed to guide the next steps in the process of improving the teaching of French in English language schools in the province.
The Minister reiterated the importance of being able to have a conversation in English and French for all New Brunswick students.
A relief for many
Canadian Parents for French NB Managing Director Chris Collins is relieved by the news. He says he would have been surprised if the government had implemented the reform because of widespread criticism from parents in the province.
We are very proud that parents and teachers in this province have spoken out against this idea, this program and called for its discontinuation.
When the reform was announced, Canadian Parents for French NB executive director Chris Collins felt the government was taking a step back in French instruction for English-speaking students.
Photo: Radio Canada / Michel Corriveau
He believes the province now needs to look at retaining teachers in the French immersion program and making the program available to other schools.
The Minister for Official Languages, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, is pleased with this decision and notes that the current immersion program has proven its worth. The minister had threatened to cut federal funding for the province’s immersion program if major changes were made to it.
She adds that citizen participation in the public consultations could have had a significant impact.
“I want to highlight the record mobilization of New Brunswickers during the consultations over the past few weeks and welcome the provincial government’s decision after listening to their demands,” she said in a written statement.
The Minister for Official Languages, Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Photo: The Canadian Press/Patrick Doyle
The same story with the New Brunswick Teachers Association. Its President Connie Keating welcomes that the department will now try to consult the stakeholders involved.
We are encouraged that Secretary Hogan announced today that the Government will slow down, carefully consider feedback and consult with multiple stakeholders before making any further decisions on systemic changes.
With information from Nicolas Steinbach, Alix Villeneuve and Pascal Raiche-Nogue