NSTU releases position paper on Early Childhood Education and Nova Scotia’s pre-primary program

The NSTU provincial executive has approved a position paper on early childhood education and Nova Scotia’s pre-primary program (http://bit.ly/2ijiYRy). It examines Nova Scotia’s approach towards pre-primary in recent years, draws on research such as UNICEF’s Benchmarks for Early Childhood Services in OECD countries, and compares Nova Scotia’s model to what’s being provided in other jurisdictions, most notably Ontario.

“Nova Scotia’s pre-primary program should be a component of an equitable, universal, inclusive, accessible and high quality public education system,” says NSTU president Liette Doucet. “We recognize that well-designed early childhood education programs create a strong foundation for growth and development throughout a student’s education.”

The paper highlights the fact that while the Premier has promoted the success of Ontario’s public kindergarten program to justify the introduction of pre-primary, Nova Scotia is not copying the same model. Unlike Ontario, Nova Scotia’s program is: not universal, does not provide full-day programming, does not have a teacher in each class, does not have a completed curriculum, and is not administered on-site by the school principal.

“Ultimately teachers want the absolute best for students and their families, and from what we have seen to this point, Nova Scotia’s pre-primary program has raised more questions than answers.”

Doucet says she’s heard concerns about the rushed introduction of the province’s pre-primary, the lack of proper consultation throughout its implementation, and its impact on the already limited resources available in Nova Scotia’s public education system.

“Teachers and administrators are generally frustrated with the launch of this initiative, and are questioning if it meets the goals of the public school program,” continues Doucet. “When students lose access to a valuable learning hub, like their school library, to make room for a pre- primary class it impacts the overall learning environment.”

Currently the NSTU is carefully monitoring the situation and surveying administrators in the schools where the program is operational. She hopes government is “prepared to make major adjustments” before any expansion occurs.