What's happening at Foothills

Simon Says: Foothills Academy's Response to Alberta's Draft K - 6 Curriculum

Published: April 13, 2021 3 p.m.

You are most likely aware that the new draft curriculum was announced by the Minister of Education during the first week of Spring Break. Media attention about the draft curriculum has been rife, and there is some consternation about the draft. The draft curriculum is K-6 (Math, English Language Arts/Literature, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts and Physical Education & Wellness), and will be trialled by some schools this September. At this juncture, Foothills has no intention to volunteer to trial the curriculum this coming school year.

Dear Parents, Guardians and Community,

Thank you all for your continued support and cooperation following the important COVID protocols. Without your efforts, we would not be able to maintain as safe an environment as possible for students, staff and visitors. Thank you once again, and hopefully, we are coming towards the final phase of this unprecedented and tiring pandemic. 

Focusing upon educational matters, you are most likely aware that the new draft curriculum was announced by the Minister of Education during the first week of Spring Break. Media attention about the draft curriculum has been rife, and there is some consternation about the draft. The draft curriculum is K-6 (Math, English Language Arts/Literature, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts and Physical Education & Wellness), and will be trialled by some schools this September. At this juncture, Foothills has no intention to volunteer to trial the curriculum this coming school year.  

The draft curriculum intends to focus upon the knowledge, skills and competencies students should have to be successful and thrive in Alberta. It follows the Ministerial Order on Student Learning, focusing upon Knowledge Development, Character Development and Community Engagement. The idea is that it does not dictate how things will be taught, just what will be taught; although it appears that the draft falls short in this area.

Many subjects have not been reviewed or updated for many years, so a curriculum update is appropriate (science for example has not been touched since 1996).  The key themes of the curriculum for student success are:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Citizenship
  • Practical Skills

The overview of the curriculum has an appropriate direction, and the high-level description for literacy and numeracy follows best practices. However, the specific details of the curriculum do not quite align with the high-level description.

There are sound elements added to citizenship and practical skills, including financial literacy, computer science, public speaking and consent. However, the specific details of these areas of the curriculum appear less than ideal. There are numerous concerns, many of which have been highlighted in the media. These include issues of appropriate/inappropriate developmental levels of prescribed learning (which is even more crucial for our students), the autonomy of teachers, and increased complexity of learning in younger grades. We could go on, but these are some of the major concerns we are going to address with our own feedback to the government. There definitely needs to be a clear approach and understanding for how this draft fits for students with Learning Disabilities.

Please note, the new curriculum is a draft and is intended to be reviewed over the coming year, and implemented across the province for K-6 in September 2022. Regardless of how or when the curriculum is rolled out for all schools, it will not impact the approach Foothills Academy has on teaching, supporting and caring for students with Learning Disabilities.   

There is also an opportunity for the public to review the draft curriculum and share feedback online with the government (K-6 Draft and Survey). We see the importance of providing feedback about the curriculum, especially pertaining to students with Learning Disabilities. 

We will continue to advocate where we can, and continue to work with the current curriculum as it is. Hopefully, in time, the appropriate changes are made to the draft, and we will try to have continued input over the coming years as the draft 7-10 curriculum will be piloted in September 2022, and the draft 11-12 curriculum will be piloted in September 2023.

Thank you all for your ongoing support as we navigate all aspects of this year. We truly appreciate, and share, your commitment to helping Foothills be the safe and caring place where your children can thrive.

Most sincerely,

Simon