Against a backdrop of teacher protests three local schools Myrtle Philip elementary, Valleycliffe elementary and Pemberton secondary have come through the provincially mandated accreditation process with what looks like flying colours.
It was a challenge, noted Myrtle Philip elementary principal Bob Daly at the parent advisory council meeting held earlier this month. But, he doesnt blame his teachers who were instructed by their union to restrict their involvement in the process this year.
The B.C. Teachers Federation feels the additional workload imposed on teachers involved in the accreditation process does not warrant its usefulness and presents a source of frustration for teachers province-wide.
For a while last year it was touch and go as to whether the accreditation process would be scuttled altogether, but the B.C. Labour Relations Board ordered the union late in September last year to rescind its "Say No to Accreditation" campaign and to refrain from discouraging teachers from participating in the school evaluation process until June 30, 2001.
There was, however, limited involvement from teachers. They did not have to follow the traditional accreditation process but rather an interim accreditation policy that was negotiated between the province and the union last year.
Myrtle Philip, Valleycliffe and Pemberton secondary were among about 255 schools across the province due for an accreditation process this school year.
Schools are slated for accreditation every six years. It takes a full year to undergo the review, which involves students, staff, parents, to some extent the community and an external accreditation team.
The outcome is a five-year growth plan that is approved and then monitored by the school board.
Once approved the growth plan becomes a public document.
The Howe Sound School board recommended at their May meeting that Valleycliffe be accredited. In June, the board expects to be doing the same for Myrtle Philip and Pemberton secondary, both of which got top marks from their respective external teams.
Pemberton principal Marg Pallot said accreditation is an opportunity for schools to be reviewed on an individual basis, rather than being lumped in with provincial averages in reports such as the one released recently by the Fraser Institute.
She said that Pemberton secondary, like many other schools in smaller communities, face unique challenges. Her school suffered from lower than expected ratings in the Fraser Institute report. Pallot said the accreditation review has revealed different results.
"The team not only found opportunities and programming outstanding, but the culture and tone of the school safe, positive and invigorating."
Pallot said specific mention was made of Pemberton's career and personal planning and career awareness programs designed to help students make the transition from school to careers of their choice.
Myrtle Philip received similar accolades from its external review team.
Daly told PAC members the team found the school to have a high level of parental involvement, happy kids, parents and staff and a positive and welcoming atmosphere.
The team also made recommendations for improvement in certain areas. The document will be made public when it goes to the school board next month.
Circumstances will change at Myrtle Philip within the next five years with the opening of the new Spring Creek elementary school but Daly said the growth plan can be revised accordingly.