The Gleaner

NFSB will launch tutoring services to help students catch up

“We are getting our plans in place,” says New Frontiers School Board general director Michael Helm, of a board-wide initiative to ensure students can catch up following teaching days lost to strike action late last year.

The board decided to rely heavily on the results of an interactive survey launched on the ThoughtExchange online platform to determine how best to provide support services and additional tutoring to students who need it. Over 500 people participated in the polling process, which revealed a preference for tutoring services to be offered immediately following the school day. “It was very powerful,” says Helm of the response to the survey. “It was clear what staff, parents, and the community preferred. Having those voices really helped us,” he revealed.

Helm says the response from teachers and support staff regarding after-school tutoring has been very positive. “Over 140 in the board said they would volunteer to put in this extra time to support these plans,” says Helm. “They want to see their students succeed and work through the time that was lost,” he explains, while noting that additional resources may be offered during the school day to students who need extra support.

“The goal is to put this into action for term three,” Helm confirms, pointing out that 60 per cent of final grades are determined during the final stretch. “This is really where the push needs to be,” he explained.

As the new support services will start in the third term, the board has decided to maintain the original schedule for term two report cards. The upcoming parent/teacher interviews will also not be affected by any of the plans being put in place.

There will also be no change to the schedules at the vocational level, where teachers have said they will be able to adjust within the remaining timeframe without affecting students’ ability to complete the various programs.

Helm says the board has also decided to make every effort to ensure March break is not impacted. There is some discussion around the possibility of offering online services at the secondary school level during this time. “We are looking at pros and cons,” he admits, saying there are no concrete plans in place yet.

The additional support being offered to students will be funded by the provincial education ministry, which announced a $300 million catch-up plan in early January. Ministerial exams that had been scheduled for early January were postponed to the end of the month and the beginning of February. End-of-year exams will also be delayed by a few days and will not be weighted as heavily.

Helm says the NFSB’s primary focus is setting up the tutoring services, so students will be supported through the third term and prepared for final exams come June.

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