These translate to “our vision/ future” and were developed collaboratively in 2022.
The superintendent’s community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) combined with working groups from the District Education Council (DEC) in 2022 resulted in a convergence of viewpoints and a sense of urgency to focus on key priorities, with carefully selected strategies and a commitment to results for long term student achievement.
Council chose to target student achievement as the priority, given existing results in Literacy, Numeracy, ILE and the importance of reading, mathematics (numeracy) and language growth (ILE) for success in school and in later life. Social responsibility is the other Council priority that overlaps these initiatives. The design of this strategic plan & vision complements the Council’s foundational policies, namely BDDEC policy A 02 Vision & Mission
Specific academic indicators in Literacy, Indigenous Languages & Culture (ILE), Numeracy and Social Responsibility were indicated over the next five years in 2026-27 to measure the success of the vision and the inquiry initiatives. Vision Targets 26-27
The fundamental purpose of the new district vision is to work collaboratively with each other and with our partners to provide the best possible education for all Beaufort Delta students. Accordingly, building and maintaining effective working relations with each other, and caring relationships with parents/guardians and students, is essential to our success.
The research base for this initiative was and continues to be inclusive of what is already working here (Indigenized Education) within the Beaufort Delta region combined with what the literature says is working out there (Inquiry learning).
Inquiry-based learning was identified as a pedagogical foundation for the district vision that would complement the existing Indigenized education efforts of the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council (BDDEC). Working groups of teachers and principals were formed for professional learning to help increase student engagement and achievement.
Inquiry-Based Learning is defined as students actively involved in solving authentic (real-life) problems within the context of the curriculum and/or community – formulating questions, investigating to find answers, building new understandings, meanings and knowledge, and then communicating their learnings to others; play-based at the Junior/Kindergarten level; powerful learning experiences engaging students deeply, increasing student critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, independence, emotional intelligence/self-regulation, and problem-solving skills. This is essential for students to take on the challenges and opportunities ahead.
BC-based Consultants Trevor Mackenzie, Shelley Moore and Leyton Schnellert were brought to advise BDDEC’s work with Inquiry, Inclusive Schooling and pursuit of student achievement. A new partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) was formed helping recruit new teachers to the district that come trained in Indigenous Education and Inquiry. Current BDDEC staff are being trained in inquiry and are working towards a decolonized model of education for our students. BDDEC consultants work with school staff and leadership teams to support all student growth indicators of the five-year vision. BDDEC principals develop school improvement plans (SIPs) at the school level based on the vision goals of the district. In 2022 BDDEC started a collaboration with Excellence Canada utilizing their Organizational Excellence Essentials standards as a guide to facilitate action research with employees and stakeholders. The goal being for employees and stakeholders to provide feedback for long-term improvement.
Traditional knowledge keepers and Elders will be utilized as much as possible to ensure learning is authentic, culturally relevant and Indigenized at the local level across BDDEC. All schools will follow a cultural calendar that is developed uniquely for their community. BDDEC is now designing student surveys along with the traditional parent/guardian surveys to launch in 2022-23 to actively engage students, parents and guardians.
In order for the vision of the district to be a success, BDDEC will support our students from a system-wide approach. All employees and stakeholders working towards a common vision to ensure long-term sustainable growth for the students of the Beaufort Delta region. The progress of the vision will be monitored and reported to the council bi-annually and reported on publicly at council meetings and shared on the BDDEC website https://beaufortdeltadec.ca/dec
Beaufort Delta District Education Council (BDDEC) is aggressively working to improve graduation rates.
Superintendent Devin Roberts said the district has gone so far as to expand its team of mobile teachers.
“This year new trades teachers were hired to travel the district and provide more high school courses to smaller schools outside of Inuvik,” he said. “The plan is to improve graduation rates and reduce the number of students who enter grade ten but do not graduate. This has become a focus of the BDDEC vision which we hope to report on over the next five to ten years.”
As of the 2020/2021 year, the six-year graduation rate for the Northwest Territories is 60 per cent. Split between regions, the rate is 74 per cent in Yellowknife, 55 per cent in regional centres like Inuvik and 45 per cent in smaller communities. Graduation rates for Indigenous students is 49 per cent across the territory, compared to 81 per cent for non-Indigenous students. Roberts said BDDEC wants to turn those lower numbers around.
It is part of BDDEC’s overall 2022 to 2027 vision, developed by a council with representatives from all eight Beaufort Delta communities. The vision will renew the district’s focus on the Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit curriculum, which teachers are expected to bring into lessons as much as possible. To help facilitate this, teachers are encouraged to bring in knowledge keepers and Elders to help students learn traditional skills, stories and languages alongside learning science, technology, engineering and math.
A renewed focus on trades education as well as mental wellness is also part of the new vision. Roberts said the vision follows a concept of three “I’s” — Indigenized Education, Inquiry and Inclusive Schooling.
“Decolonizing the education system as much as possible within our local locus of control is a main priority for BDDEC,” he said. “The efforts to advance truth and reconciliation can be seen with the Elders in the School programs and BDDEC’s new vision which includes a focus on voice and choice for students. The voices of the youth in the region must be valued, fostered and supported throughout their education. BDDEC has asked all schools to develop a student council. These student councils will work together to provide youth more of a forum to bring forward ideas and concerns about their education system in real time.
“Also in the day to day classes BDDEC teachers are providing students more opportunities for voice and choice using inquiry as the main method of teaching. Students become active in their learning. They are encouraged to practice and become more comfortable with oracy skills. This is supported through partner talks and small group work eventually building students up to become confident in public speaking, presenting, critical thinking and articulation. The students are the future leaders of the communities and thus BDDEC believes fostering communication skills will support the youth in becoming confident leaders.”
To help students feel more included, the district has re-branded its logo and purchased orange lighting to shine the message that Every Child Matters throughout the dark Beaufort Delta nights.
Implementation of the new vision is already underway, after a motion at the annual District Education Council meeting in March set it in action. Roberts said the first step of that is community engagement to gather feedback on where the vision is going. Changes from said feedback will be announced this fall. After that, the plan is to partner with the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to develop a 10-year plan for student success across the Beaufort Delta.
“In the meantime staff have been trained using the Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit curriculums learning how to Indigenize programming,” said Roberts. “Partnerships between schools, Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers are underway. An Inquiry network for teachers and principals meets monthly. The inquiry networks are supported by consultants and BDDEC senior management.
“BDDEC has a repository of lessons and strategies to support Indigenized Education, Inquiry and Inclusive Schooling through Google Drive available to staff. BDDEC senior leadership and a team of consultants travel the district supporting schools with the BDDEC vision.”
Every night since last Sept. 30, Beaufort Delta District Education Council’s windows have glowed orange to remind the world that Every Child Matters. Photo courtesy of Beaufort Delta District Education Council