Reform Update of April 3, 1998, No. 4
Bill 180 (An Act
to amend the Education Act and various legislative provisions), assented
to December 19, 1997, is a key component of the reform set out in A New Direction
The purpose of the amendments
made in Bill 180 is to give schools more responsibility so that they can better
adapt their teaching and organization to the needs and characteristics of their
students. Some of the duties and powers which currently lie with the school
boards are transferred to the schools and, more specifically, to the governing
boards. These amendments are also aimed at according more authority and professional
autonomy to teachers, who will shoulder major pedagogical responsibilities under
the authority of the school principal.
Other amendments provide
for the creation of new types of educational institutionsadult education
centres and vocational education centresand of the Commission des programmes
détudes and three ministerial committees. One of these committees
will be responsible for the evaluation of instructional material, and the other
two, for matters related to teacher training.
This issue focuses on the
new powers of the school and the responsibilities entrusted to school
principals and teachers. The governing board and the implementation calendar
will be the subject of a future issue of Education Reform Update.
amend the Education Act?
Responsibility for students
success rests first and foremost with the schools. In order to provide quality
education across Québec and enable the greatest possible number of students
to succeed, each school must have the means to adapt its teaching and organization
to the needs and characteristics of its students, within the guidelines of the
Empowering Schools to
Fulfil Their Mission
More specifically, schools
must be given greater scope for independent action so that teachers can have
a say in decisions which have an impact on classroom teaching or school life.
Schools must be freed from the many rigid standards and guidelines restricting
Supporting Schools through
Active Community Involvement
Students success is
not only up to the school: it concerns the community as a whole and requires
a collective effort. School staff must receive strong support from the community.
Parents in particular must become true partners of the school and help set and
implement policy directions.
Schools the Autonomy they Need
Bill 180 gives schools the
leeway to set their own objectives and plan of action, and to carry out and
evaluate their own educational projects. It transforms schools into institutions
based on a partnership between users (i.e., parents) and the school staff, in
which the role of each party is respected.
The main orientations of
Bill 180 are to:
- give schools the autonomy
and powers they need to fulfil their mission;
- create a partnership
between users (i.e., parents) and school staff;
- promote the professional
autonomy of teachers under the authority of the principal.
Outcome of Collective Reflection
The locus of responsibility
for education must be as close as possible to the very place where education
is dispensed, namely the schools. This view, often expressed by the Conseil
supérieur de léducation in its briefs and more recently
by the Commission for the Estates General on Education, was supported by all
those who took part in the process leading up to the approval of Bill 180.
The fifty or so organizations
that were heard during the parliamentary commission on the draft bill in the
fall of 1997 were of the same opinion. In December, the National Assemblys
Committee on Education studied Bill 180 at length. The hearings it held gave
the main partners in education an opportunity to reiterate their willingness
to work with the government in order to give schools the autonomy they need.
Powers for Schools
In order to reconfigure
the education system around autonomous, accountable schools, Bill 180 gives
each school all of the powers and means it needs to fulfil its mission in all
areas of activity related to school organization.
Each school must first set
its objectives on the basis of its students needs and determine the measures
required to achieve them. Thus, the governing board adopts, oversees the implementation
of, and evaluates the schools educational project. It also approves the
schools student supervision policy, rules of conduct and safety measures.
Powers Related to Educational
Very important powers are
transferred to the school so that it may adapt its educational services to students
needs. Hence, the governing board will:
- approve the approach
for the implementation of the basic school regulation;
- approve the overall
approach for the enrichment or adaptation of the programs of study and the
development of local programs;
- approve the time allocation
for each subject and see that the minimum time prescribed for moral and religious
education is respected;
- approve the approach
for the implementation of student services and special education services;
- approve programming
which entails changes in the time at which students arrive or leave, or which
takes them off school premises.
Powers Related to Human,
Material and Financial Resources
The school must have control
over the resources it needs in order to achieve its goals. To this end, Bill
180 gives the governing board the authority to:
- inform the school board
of the schools needs in terms of human resources, goods, services, and
- adopt the schools
budget and submit it to the school board for approval;
- approve the use of school
premises and enter into agreements regarding their use.
Powers Related to Community
So that the school can truly
provide a stimulating environment which meets the needs of the community, the
governing board is given the power to:
- organize educational
services other than those prescribed by the basic school regulation and social,
cultural or sports activities for its students or the community;
- contract with persons
or organizations for the provision of goods and services related to community
- require a financial
contribution for community services and solicit contributions to be paid into
Powers for Teachers
The fact that teachers are
represented on the schools governing board gives them a greater say in
policy directions of a pedagogical nature.
on the board will be entitled to vote on matters of importance such as the definition
of the educational project, the approach for the implementation of the basic
school regulation, the overall approach for the enrichment or adaptation of
the programs of study and the development of local programs, the time allocation
for each subject, and the implementation of student services. Before making
any decisions on the above matters, the governing board must consider proposals
made by the school staff.
Furthermore, Bill 180 fully
recognizes the exclusive authority and professional autonomy of teachers by
delimiting an area of responsibility that is specifically theirs. Teachers will
be responsible for making proposals to the principal on the following points:
- the content of local
programs and the standards for the introduction of new teaching methods;
- the choice of textbooks
and instructional material;
- standards and procedures
for the evaluation of student achievement as well as the rules for the placement
of students and their promotion from one cycle to another in elementary school.
Finally, teachers will be
consulted by the principal as regards the organization of professional development
Provisions for Teachers Autonomy
The educational policy set
out in Québec Schools on Course provides for teachers professional
autonomy by giving teachers more freedom in the classroom within the guidelines
of the standard curriculum.
For example, at the elementary
level, the new subject-time allocation will allow greater flexibility in the
amount of time devoted to each subject within a given cycle. At the secondary
level, all new programs will leave 25 percent of the allotted time open so that
teachers may use it to enrich or adapt content as they see fit.
SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS
about the education reform, please contact the Ministère's regional
office in your area.
next issue will look at:
- the governing board;
- the role of the school
- the implementation calendar.
purpose of Education Reform Update is to keep readers up-to-date on the progress
of the reform set out in A New Direction for Success: Ministerial Plan of Action
for the Reform of the Education System. The newsletter is published by the communications
branch of the ministère de l'Éducation, in cooperation with the
office of the Deputy Minister of Education.
of Communications: Daniel Legault
Coordinator: Michel Moisan
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