Wyant sticks to familiar script

Column: 
May 29, 2018

Education Minister Gord Wyant.

Anyone who might have been looking for something new in the address Minister of Education Gord Wyant delivered at the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Annual Meeting of Council would soon have realized they were in the wrong room.

Wyant, who is still in his relative infancy as Education Minister, utilized the opportunity to reaffirm what he has been saying since assuming the role just over two months ago. Speaking to a room full of teachers, he consistently referred to the important role they have to play as vital partners in the delivery of public education in the province.

“You provide a strong voice for the teachers in Saskatchewan, who are the face of education–spending time with students day in and day out: educating, mentoring, encouraging, supporting, inspiring and ultimately changing the lives of our students,” Wyant noted.

The Minister was keen to refer to his commitment of a new way of doing things, “not just in the results we achieve as a government, but just as important, in the way we govern.

“We have a common goal–ensuring the success of our children. If we focus on that shared goal, I am confident we will build the respectful relationship we all want. You have my commitment to that.”

According to Wyant, the foundation for all of the work the Ministry does continues to be the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) as its goals are ultimately tied to ensuring each of the nearly 180,000 students in our provincial system reach their full potential.

Wyant shared that “we remain committed to these goals, and this fall we will be planning for the future. We can’t do it without you.”

Against that backdrop, Wyant also alluded to the STF’s anticipated Re-Imagine Education campaign.

“I am encouraged by the STF’s plans to begin consultations to help inform the future of public education. Your commitment to engaging with parents, students and the public at large is commendable.

“While our current ESSP work proceeds, we look forward to continuing our work with you as we begin to look beyond 2020 and set the priorities and goals that will shape our sector over the next decade,” he said.

With an eye to the future, Wyant indicated he has asked Deputy Minister of Education Rob Currie to lead the creation of the next long-term strategic plan together with the STF and other education sector partners.

Wyant referred to what he called some significant steps in curriculum renewal in a number of subject areas since last year’s Council.

“When curriculum development resumed, we tasked our Ministry staff to work with both educators and industry to develop relevant and engaging curriculum opportunities for Saskatchewan students.”

He drew particular attention to new coding and robotics opportunities for middle years and high school students in Saskatchewan.

“These new course offerings reflect our commitment to meeting the needs of today’s students by providing them with fundamental exposure to opportunities that develop interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Wyant also talked about new financial literacy curricula being developed, adding that “these curriculum initiatives were advocated for by many of your [STF] members, and we hope this is an encouraging sign of our commitment to having a renewed dialogue with the educators in our province.”

Wyant stressed there are many opportunities for teachers to be involved in curriculum development and renewal. Such opportunities include involvement in reference committees, piloting new curricula and other forms of vetting, as well as writing and reviewing resources.

“It is truly an exciting time for education in Saskatchewan, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Wyant said. “We will continue to focus on the goals set out in the sector plan, and I look forward to working with you as we renew those goals in order to ensure we are supporting our classrooms with students in mind. We must not be afraid of renewal. We must welcome and embrace it. Renewal isn’t breaking with our past; it is setting the table for the future,” he summed up.