Atlantic Caucus

The 2019 Atlantic Caucus Meeting of the School Council Federation and Home and School Associations took place on Saturday, November 16th in St. John’s, NL. Representatives from the Home & School Federations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the Federation of School Councils in Newfoundland Labrador met to discuss priority issues in education and share ideas.

“It was a very productive meeting, says Don Coombs, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils (NLFSC). There is tremendous benefit in having all 4 Atlantic Provinces meet on a regular basis to discuss the importance of education advocacy, legislative changes and best practices. It’s a good way to network, share ideas and discuss commonalities in education advocacy.”

Representatives expressed unified concern about the scourge of vaping among students, and are calling on all levels of government to take urgent action in this regard. The targeted marketing of our youth by the scions of big tobacco companies needs to stop now! The group also called for stricter legislation to limit youth access to these products through a combination of regulation and or taxation.

The meeting highlighted the importance of regional and local partnerships in strengthening student outcomes and achievements. The provincial representatives would like to thank Dean Ingram, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association, for his presentation on class sizes and the impacts on student achievement. There is clear research that shows smaller class sizes have a positive impact on learning and achievement.

Appreciation was also extended to Ken Hopkins, Executive Director for the Newfoundland and Labrador School Lunch Association, who talked about goals, outcomes, and operations of the School Lunch Program.The School Lunch Association is a registered charity whose mission is to operate a non-stigmatizing program that provides a hot, nutritious lunch for school children, regardless of a families’ financial situation. The program serves over 6,300 meals each day, in 36 schools across Newfoundland. Last year the program served over one million meals to children.

Another area of shared concern was access to mental health services for students. While it is recognized many governments share our concerns regarding expanding mental health access throughout society – timely access to assessment and services requires more attention. The Atlantic Caucus is calling for expanded supports for mental health services in all schools.

Each provincial representative presented a written report on current provincial education initiatives, on-going concerns and priorities.

“There are educational items of mutual interest to parents and educators in Atlantic Canada,” says PEI Home and School President, Cory Thomas. “The Home and School/School Council Caucus meeting held in St. John’s provided an opportunity for delegates to meet, discuss and learn about issues that impact student learning, health and well-being in our respective provinces.  Working with our neighbours to come up with solutions for issues is essential.’

“Atlantic Caucus provides each of our provinces the opportunity to discuss the educational issues and changes within our individual provinces,” says Cynthia Richards, President of the New Brunswick Home and School Association. “Seeing our children receive the best education we can provide, and having their nutritional and mental health issues addressed is of the utmost importance. To accomplish these goals, we need to collaborate and discuss the best practices for now and the future.” The Atlantic Caucus of Home and School/School Council Federations aims to encourage discussion on common issues in public education in Atlantic Canada, and bring added value to provincial associations.