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New Directions

Over the last few years there has been an exceptional partnership developed among the major groups and agencies concerned with public education in Nova Scotia. The Department of Education, the regional school boards, the universities, the Nova Scotia Educational Leadership Consortium and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union have worked together to establish a common vision in some pivotal areas. The process began with the Education Professional Development Committee (EPDC) that mapped out a better approach to professional learning focusing on student learning and the research finding that when teachers are engaged in their own learning, students benefit. Two subsequent initiatives came out of the EPDC efforts. The first was the establishment of the Instructional Leadership Academy. EPDC noted that the principal was the key figure in encouraging learning within the school. The regional school boards indicated this was the weakness of their own leadership programs. The second development was another multi-partner group tasked with determining what professional learning communities would look like in our schools. The EPDC report identified collegial and collaborative professional learning as the key factor to promote student learning. The Report of the Professional Learning Community Study Group (alternate link) defined how they should be supported, advanced and developed in Nova Scotia. In July 2012, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the NS Department of Education reached aggreement on a number of critical topics for educators and education. The Report of the Joint Committee is the summation of these discussions and provides an important understanding of some critical issues. For those interested in sustaining and developing a high quality public education system, recommended reading must include the new book by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan, Professional Capital (currently available from This book provides a clear synthesis of how we need to move forward not only in countries such as Canada which already have excellent public education, but also in places such as the United States that are currently in the process of destroying public education and the foundation for their wealth and strength.