Niagara Catholic District School Board has made a “tough decision” to stop offering core French to students in grades 1 to 3.
Kim Kinney, family of schools superintendent and superintendent of education for program and innovation, said the school board had been providing the instruction to the primary grades without Ministry of Education funding.
“Niagara Catholic recognizes the value of core French as part of the elementary school curriculum,” she said. “While we value the benefits of offering core French to students as early as possible, we have done so at the expense of other compulsory parts of the Ontario curriculum.”
Niagara Catholic is one of only a handful of school boards in Ontario that offers core French to primary students.
“Removing core French from our primary division in the coming school year will align Niagara Catholic with the majority of school boards across Ontario,” said Kinney.
Niagara Catholic elected not to seek community input in its decision.
“In this case, consultation from the community would have provided a false sense of optimism to families whose children would participate in core French as primary students next year,” Kinney said.
The decision to permanently remove core French from the primary division “was not made easily, or lightly,” she said.
Niagara Catholic faces a shortage of qualified French teachers for mandatory core French programs in grades 4 to 8 and French immersion programs.
“Despite doing our best to find additional qualified French teachers, we continue to have a shortfall,” said Kinney. “As a result, with the best overall interest of students in mind, our senior staff made the difficult decision to end core French for primary students at the end of this school year.
“We understand that this is disappointing for our primary families, but are obligated to do our best to ensure adequate staffing for students who have core French as part of their required learning in Grade 4 to 8 and the additional daily minutes for primary students will be dedicated to other subject areas such as science, technology, health and physical education.”