Students attending English schools in Quebec represent less than 10 percent of all students in the education system and many of the 340 English schools are small and isolated. These schools are often the last remaining English institutions in their communities and are increasingly being turned into community centres, “responsible not only for the students’ academic performance but also for the development of their language and culture” (Advisory Board on English Education, 2000).
In 2005, the Ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur(MEES) developed an action plan to support the development of community schools that would serve as “hubs” for English-language education and community development.
With funding from the Government of Canada’s Department of Canadian Heritage to support Official Language Minority (OLM) education, Quebec’s community schools movement, known as the Community Learning Centre (CLC) Initiative, was introduced in 15 schools in 2006.
In 2014, the CLC Initiative began scaling up and now includes more than 87 English schools in urban, rural and remote communities across Quebec.
Schools taking part in the CLC Initiative have a dual mandate:
•Mobilize community stakeholders in support of educational success;
•Mobilize schools in support of community vitality.
In participating schools, a Community Development Agent manages the development of local partnerships in close collaboration with school principals.
Schools that are CLCs most commonly report experiencing improved school climates, greater student engagement and increased access to services for the English-speaking community.
Now considered to be a global education strategy, the community school concept first appeared in the 1930’s in the United States as a way to integrate community resources into schools. In Canada, British Columbia is generally recognized as the first place to systematically develop community schools in the 1970’s.
The National Centre for Community Schools in the USA recently described community schools “as a strategy for organizing the resources of the community around student success.”
Community Schools are results-focused:
• Children are ready to enter school
• Students are actively involved in learning and their community
• Families are involved with their children's education
• Students are healthy - physically, socially, and emotionally
• Schools are engaged with families and communities
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