About Us - Overview
The New Westminster School District has a rich tapestry of cultures, backgrounds, learning styles and needs. Together, we are a caring, inclusive, and committed learning community dedicated to supporting each of our unique learners so they will have the skills and competencies they need to be productive and successful citizens in a rapidly changing world.
Demographics: The City of New Westminster sits in the centre of the Greater Vancouver Regional District between the larger communities of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey and Richmond. Despite its location, the city is relatively small and has retained a strong sense of history and community. The total population is approximately 70,000 and is expected to grow to 84,000 by 2021. District schools are, in general, fully subscribed, and a modest increase in student enrolment is expected over the next few years.The New Westminster School District recognizes and acknowledges the Qayqayt First Nations, as well as all Coast Salish peoples, on whose traditional and unceded territories we live, we learn, we play and we do our work.
Unique Characteristics: The student population is reflective of the city’s population, with a full range of social and cultural backgrounds forming a diverse presence in our schools. In the Kindergarten to Grade 12 system as of 2017, there are 6,988 students including approximately:
- 316 Aboriginal students;
- 1,051 English Language Learner (ELL) students;
- 993 French Immersion students; and,
- 538 students with identified Special Needs.
Our learners are taught by more than 400 teachers in the District. We have 12 schools: 8 elementary, 3 middle, and one secondary school. Our most recent school addition, Fraser River Middle School, opened September, 2016, meaning that grade 6, 7 and 8 students across the district are now served by middle schools dedicated to programs for this early adolescent group.
Of particular note, the New Westminster Secondary School Replacement Project will see a $106.5 million new home in September 2020 for one of British Columbia’s largest high schools. More than 1,900 grade 9 through 12 students will benefit from a state-of-the-art school designed to provide excellent learning experiences for New Westminster students. This is the largest capital project of its kind to have ever been undertaken by the Ministry of Education in the history of the province.
In addition to our 12 schools in the District, we are proud to have three Youth Alternate Programs, two Adult Learning Centres, and a Home Learners’ Program with a satellite Home Learners’ Program on Bowen Island.
Our Programs and Services: New Westminster Schools has an annual operating budget approaching $70 million to provide educational programming for our students from kindergarten to grade 12.
We support the academic and social success of all Aboriginal Students in the District, guided by our second and most recent Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement.
We are committed to inclusive education, supporting the need for students to attend school with their peers and receive appropriate, quality programming with a continuum of supports.
Our programs of choice provide a range of options for early and late French Immersion and for Montessori Programs. In addition, highly motivated students can prepare for the rigors of post-secondary education through our International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, as well as the Pre-IB program in grades 9 and 10.
We are proud to offer apprenticeship programs in partnership with post-secondary institutions and the Industry Training Authority (ITA). Students can earn credit towards graduation at the same time as receiving first-level trades certification in piping, carpentry and professional chef programs. Our district partners with the Piping Institute College, BCIT and Vancouver Community College respectively in these programs.
We are also firmly committed to establishing and nurturing community partnerships to offer school-based programs and services that promote the well-being of our children, youth and families. We believe that strong families are critical to the success of our children and youth and, ultimately, our community as a whole.
Highlights for the coming school year: We have many exciting plans for the school year.
The implementation of British Columbia’s Re-designed Curriculum for Kindergarten to Grade 9 continues to take place across the province this year, bringing a strong focus to a student-centred, flexible, and innovative approach to learning. (Please visit curriculum.gov.bc.ca for more about this exciting learning journey.) We have three full-time Curriculum Facilitators who are working with teachers in their classrooms as they engage in inquiry-based and project-based learning designed to ignite student passions and engagement. We are also staging regular workshops, introducing resources, and facilitating collaboration through Innovation Grants for school teams to explore ways to implement the new curriculum. Stay tuned!
Another highlight this year is the new focus we are bringing to school libraries and the Learning Commons. The availability of digital resources and access to the internet is allowing us to re-think the traditional library. Learning Commons are comfortable places for students to use digital devices to learn with the help of the teacher-librarian who is the curator, facilitator and mediator of digital media.
The Board of Education of School District No. 40 (New Westminster) strives to provide a safe and nonthreatening environment in all schools and facilities and is guided in this by our District Code of Conduct.
At New Westminster Schools, we strive to be a learning organization, committed to reviewing, refining and reflecting upon our practice to provide the best possible outcomes for students.
There is much to explore in the coming year!