Parents explore educational program

NANAIMO: School officials explore idea of offering an international education program.

Nanaimo school officials are exploring the idea of offering an international education program in one or more of the district’s elementary schools after hearing from parents Wednesday evening.

Sarah Lee, who has two children at Hammond Bay Elementary School, was one of a handful of parents who spoke with trustees at the education committee meeting about the International Baccalaureate primary years program for children aged 3-12.

Some parents at her school first learned about the program during playground discussions and the group has since hosted information sessions to get the word out to other parents and started an online petition with more than 100 signatures so far, she said.

“We’re proposing they do it at different schools throughout the district,” said Lee. “I think once people are curious enough to understand what is being proposed and what IB offers, they will get excited about it. For the early years, it’s really about engaging the kids and teaching them to be inquiring.”

The IB program is taught in close to 3,500 schools in 143 countries and is recognized worldwide for having high standards.

Aspengrove School – a private school in Lantzville – offers the IB early years program, the middle years program (Grades 6-10) and plans to offer the diploma program for its senior students next fall.

Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, said the committee recommended staff examine the possibility of offering IB programs throughout the district.

“It’s a good idea to look at it,” he said. “It would be a good addition if you have the support from the school community. There’s a lot of work that would have to be done.”

Brennan said there would be additional costs associated with offering the program, including mandatory professional development for all teachers at a school offering it, and there needs to be strong support for the program at the school. An IB program was offered at Nanaimo District Secondary School in the 1980s, but Brennan was not sure why it was discontinued.

For more information about the IB program, please go to www.ibo.org.

To sign the petition, please go to www.change.org/petitions/trustees-of-school-district-68-adopt-the-ib-in-sd68-schools or e-mail the parents involved at ibnanaimo@gmail.com.

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