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NWSS students: Talking about BC’s new curriculum

In the news: New Westminster Secondary School grad 12 students Gustavo Magan Campos, Sonia Sarai and Alia Homenuke with social studies teachers Stacey Robinsmith and Stacy Brine. Photo: Jason Payne/Postmedia

In the news: New Westminster Secondary School grade 12 students Gustavo Magana Campos, Sonia Sarai and Alia Homenuke with social studies teachers Stacey Robinsmith and Stacy Brine. Photo: Jason Payne/Postmedia


September 23, 2019: High school students at New Westminster Secondary School were among those who shared their insights with the Vancouver Sun as BC’s new Grade 11 and 12 curriculum is introduced this year across the province – bringing with it new excitement, as well as a degree of anxiety about the shift to post-secondary schools.

As NWSS student Sonia Sarai told Vancouver Sun reporter Lori Culbert, “We are the transition year, because no one has answers for us.”

The curriculum redesign in BC was introduced in younger grades starting in 2015 and means a new style of learning that focuses on student-driven projects, more hands-on learning, new courses and options – as well as an emphasis on the ‘core competencies’ that can guide students into the future: communication skills, critical thinking, and personal and social responsibility.

Hear what NWSS and other BC high school students have to say in:
“BC’s new high school curriculum: Genocide and Indigenous studies, drones and mechatronics, more projects, fewer exams”

Education Minister Rob Fleming told the Vancouver Sun that the post-secondary sector both inside and outside BC has been consulted about the curriculum redesign –  which will strengthen student ability to research, analyze, synthesize and communicate.

A renewed appreciation for  practical skills, professions and job training in high school courses has also opened the door to more opportunities.

At NWSS, for instance, musical theatre courses are now recognized as part of the provincial curriculum, giving them ‘more academic clout.’

For grade 12 student Gustava Magana Campos, who is considering film or art history at university next year, that means “more appreciation focused on kids who want to take arts courses.”

The redesigned curriculum also means an end to provincial exams focused on specific course-based knowledge. Instead, students will undergo three assessments in Grade 10 and in Grade 12 on literacy and numeracy.

NWSS teacher Stacey Robinsmith explained that he decided to do away with quizzes, tests and exams altogether in his Social Justice 12 class as he tested out the new curriculum last year – engaging students in more active learning through research and team presentations on key issues.

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