Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
Suggestions for the Renewal of Secondary Education The School as an Educational COMMUNITY

In a brief made public on April 30 in Québec City, the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation makes an urgent appeal to the Minister of Education and to schools to work on the quality of the learning environment at the secondary level.

"Structural reforms in the school system will have been to no avail if the relationships among those working in the school are not improved, and if students are not increasingly motivated and do not have a greater desire to learn and succeed," said Conseil President Céline Saint-Pierre in encouraging future governing boards and school teams to take into account human factors as much as organizational elements.

The brief, entitled The School as an Educational Community, differs from most Conseil briefs, which tend to address specific issues. This one is aimed at giving secondary schools a vision and some courses of action for creating a sense of belonging among students. The document is a follow-up to a recent Conseil brief, entitled Restoring a Sense of Belonging to Prevent Dropping Out at the Secondary Level, which highlighted the direct link between a sense of belonging and student success.


What is an educational community?

Aware that there is no magic solution to problems in secondary schools, the Conseil recommends that they commit themselves to a process of transformation. That is to say that schools become "educational communities" involving all players, including those in the surrounding community, and that they rely on cooperation and the quality of the relationships among the players to fulfil the school's educational mission.

The Conseil urges governing boards to define their own institutional values based on the ideal of an educational community. Citing examples from Québec schools as well as from schools outside Québec, it suggests several avenues for change that seem particularly characteristic of an educational community: a shared vision, open and participatory management, and quality human relations.

These features must be found not only in the classroom but throughout the school. The Conseil also advocates the establishment of ways of organizing teaching that are flexible enough to foster a sense of student belonging. Promising experiences should be shared to stimulate other schools to improve their internal operations.


A necessary partnership

Lastly, the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation draws attention to the need for schools to work as partners with parents and local institutions and organizations. It feels that the amendments to the Education Act, which mean major changes in responsibility-sharing, provide an unprecedented opportunity to review the parent-school dynamic from the viewpoint of cooperation.

The Conseil also recommends that each school have a mechanism for explaining to parents, Cycle Two students, and staff the issues involved in the new Act as well as the powers and responsibilities that fall to them. It also urges secondary schools to reach out to community organizations that are able to share their education objectives and to help achieve them.

Panorama • Volume3, Number2 • May 1998

Document complet - in French (PDF)


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