Baccalaureate program looked at by Nanaimo school district

NANAIMO – Increased enrolment could be among benefits of an International Baccalaureate program.

Increased enrolment could be among the benefits from an International Baccalaureate program the Nanaimo school district is seeking to implement.

Parents requested the primary years program from the Switzerland-based non-profit educational foundation, which has a goal to create curriculum that engages students aged three to 12 years.

A presentation to the education committee earlier this week suggested the program increased student numbers in other B.C. schools, such as West Bay Elementary in West Vancouver.

“There’s a component of the parent group who understands the IB program and maybe have seen it in other places and so I think that there has been a group of parents who have been looking to see this program be developed in our school district,” said Robyn Gray, school district assistant superintendent.

“We only have a French immersion option and we have a regular public school option and this would just be a third option. I think it increases options for our parent groups,” she said.

A steering committee is in the midst of preparing a pre-implementation plan for accreditation, according to Gray.

“It requires basically a three- to four-year program to actually develop it to get actually accredited as an IB school,” Gray said.

“It is a long process yet to be determined because at this point we are just going to be looking at a feasibility kind of process and a consultation process next year,” said Gray.

While it was proposed Randerson Ridge Elementary would offer the program, a recent motion to re-examine the district’s 10-year facilities plan could alter that.

“If it’s not Randerson Ridge maybe there’s another one where enrolment is maybe a little bit lower and maybe we can use that as a way to enhance or increase the enrolment in those schools,” said spokesman Dale Burgos.

Teachers would need foundation certification and the program, from inception to the third year, is estimated to cost $375,000. The school district would pay to develop the program curriculum.

Aspengrove School, an independent institution in Lantzville, has benefited from offering International Baccalaureate programming, said Elisabeth Reay, admissions director.

“From an admissions perspective, it’s really drawn a lot of people to the Nanaimo community … because [the program] is so widely known around the world,” said Reay. “Nanaimo tends to be a place where many people are moving from other parts of the world now and they identify with the IB program.”

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