Headlines for October 1-8, 2021

In this week’s headlines: Ontario will revise its early elementary curriculum to include indigenous history, New Zealand’s math curriculum review has unearthed systemic failures, Poland will support incoming university students with remedial courses after a year of school disruptions, and Scotland has released a plan for its education system to continue to recover after the pandemic.

Ontario to Include Indigenous History in Early Elementary Curriculum

Ontario elementary students will get a new social studies curriculum that includes more indigenous history of Canada, the province’s education minister announced. Students in first through third grade will get the new lessons, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said, while Ontario will offer Inuktitut, an indigenous language, for all students. Canada’s most populous province will also invest CAN$23.96 million on improving the education of First Nation, Metis and Inuit students. The announcement was made in advance of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which was created by Parliament this year to honor the indigenous children who were forced to attend residential schools. Joanne Meyer, the chief operating officer of the Metis Nation of Ontario, said the new curriculum “…would ensure that age-appropriate mandatory curriculum content pertaining to residential schools, treaties and the lives of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples is made available to all students.” For more see CBC Canada.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce

New Zealand’s Math Curriculum Review Identifies Systemic Failures


New Zealand should eliminate some math courses and expand teacher training and student support, a panel of experts who reviewed the nation’s curriculum for the concludes. The review by the Royal Society Te Apārangi calls for more comprehensive teacher training, eliminating different level math classes in elementary and early secondary school, expanding supports to keep students on pace with the curriculum, and more direction and resources from the Ministry of Education. The ministry commissioned the examination of how New Zealand teaches math after declining international and national math scores over the past two decades. The panel identified major systemic failures such as a widening gap between rich and poor children, Māori and Pasifika students lagging behind their fellow classmates, and insufficient teacher subject knowledge. The panel’s recommendations include increasing math instructional time for students, providing ongoing math professional learning for teachers and convening a panel to look at Māori-medium mathematics education. Read more at the NZ Herald.

Poland Organizes Remedial Courses for Incoming University Students

Polish students heading to university will be able to take subsidized remedial courses. Poland’s Ministry of Education and Science will fund the classes out of concern that students may need additional instruction after spending much of the last year and a half learning remotely due the pandemic. The Ministry will develop a basic program and will also fund universities directly so that they can develop their own customized supports for first year students. The Ministry will fund approximately one third of the public and private universities across the country to organize these additional remedial classes. Read the Ministry’s notice here.


Scotland Releases a Pandemic Recovery Plan

Scotland’s education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville
Scotland’s education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville

Scotland’s government has published an Education Recovery Plan. The plan includes additional support—such as online review classes or targeted help—for students preparing to take exams this spring and summer. It will also expand mental health and counseling services for students. Schools will also be able to hire thousands of extra teachers and support staff this year, and expand early learning and childcare services for low-income households. The government will also provide digital devices to all students and invest £1 billion (US$1.4 billion) to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap and support education recovery. However, critics of the plan, including teachers unions and opposition parties, say the plan is not ambitious enough and simply repackages old proposals. Shirley-Anne Somerville, Secretary for Education and Skills, lauded the plan, “Our collaborative and ambitious programme of support to aid recovery right across our education sector has been underway for many months.”