The start of a new school year in Saskatchewan means more than 190,000 prekindergarten to Grade 12 students are returning to classrooms in more than 770 schools across the province.
From early learning and prekindergarten, to K-12 and post-secondary, dedicated parents and caregivers, teachers, bus drivers, counselors, educational assistants and administrators, school support and maintenance staff are working together to ensure all students receive a high-quality education.
Your Saskatchewan Party government is dedicated to ensuring all students have the proper supports to reach their full potential. This year, school divisions have been provided $285.5 million in funding for programming and supports for children with intensive needs – a $2.8 million increase from last year’s budget.
Since 2007, our government has increased K-12 operating funding by 34 per cent compared to enrolment growth of 13 per cent within the same time frame; we have also added more than 1100 teachers and support staff, along with 46 brand-new or replacement schools.
Our government continues to provide Saskatchewan students with relevant classroom opportunities that will prepare them for emerging careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Saskatchewan school divisions now have the opportunity to offer robotics and automation classes for their students. Robotics and Automation classes, which include coding, are now available for Grade 7-12 students, ensuring classrooms are meeting the needs of 21st century students. Boards of education will determine what schools will offer these classes within their division, supporting the local needs of their students.
Nearly 9,000 students, parents and community members had their say in a recent online survey about what students in the province need to be successful in school. Students who responded to the survey identified that the most important things to help them learn include quality teachers and staff and a comfortable, quiet learning environment. Students also said it is important to have a variety of program and elective options so they can work toward goals and study topics of interest. In addition to the students, non-students also provided survey responses indicating that quality teachers and educational assistants, as well as issues at home and access to supports are the top three things impacting students’ well-being and learning.
While quality of teaching was noted as extremely important by student respondents, some noted that quality of instruction can also be a challenge. Classroom environment and student behaviour were similarly noted by some as being a barrier to learning. The survey results from non-students identified that updated curriculum and classroom supports are important. Many students who responded to the survey also said they believe hands-on learning and interactive activities help them to learn at school. Non-student respondents also say that inclusion, diversity and acceptance are some of what is working well in our schools.
I want to thank the thousands of people that we heard from, and in particular the students, who took the time to tell us what they need. Student voice is key as we begin to plan for the future success of all of Saskatchewan’s learners. The results of the survey together with the feedback from engagement sessions that were held by education partners and school boards around the province will be used to build a framework outlining the key areas of focus in education over the next 10 years. The framework, which will be used to develop a new education plan, will be presented to the Minister of Education later this fall.
Students are excited for the new school year. Please remember to obey the posted speed limit and be extra careful when approaching and driving through school zones – watch for crosswalks and school crossing guards as well as school buses that are loading and unloading children.
To all parents, educators and support staff, thank you for all you do. Best wishes for a successful year of growth and learning!