Personnel administratif – Handbook for French Immersion Administrators

Long-range Planning

Providing Jurisdictional Leadership for French Immersion

Long-range Planning

The establishment of a French immersion program represents a long-term commitment. Any school jurisdiction establishing this program will need to provide the necessary resources for the program from Kindergarten through Grade 12; otherwise, the objectives of the program are seriously compromised.

Funding and Accountability
All of the funding provided to English language programs should be available for French immersion programs as well. This includes funding for basic instruction, funding for students with severe disabilities, English as a second language support, technology integration, learning resources credit allocation and the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement.

In addition to this, jurisdictions offering French immersion programs have access to federal funding through the Protocol for Agreements for Minority-Language Education and Second-Language Instruction. These funds are intended to address the additional costs involved in offering a French immersion program.

In developing and implementing long-range plans for French immersion, boards are encouraged to access all available funding and to direct it to the French immersion program to ensure its long-term viability and success. Jurisdictions must be prepared to demonstrate to their communities that funds provided for a French immersion program are used for that purpose.

Stability and Growth
Program stability contributes to the overall credibility of the French immersion program, making it a viable choice for parents and students. The factors that make up a stable program include:

  • a declared commitment to offer the French immersion program from Kindergarten or Grade 1 through Grade 12 or at one of the other entry points;
  • visible support from key decision-makers in the school jurisdiction, for example the superintendent and trustees attend functions held in French immersion schools;
  • initiatives that support the French immersion program such as French public speaking competitions, the summer language program, Explore, organized by the Council of Ministers of Education (Canada) and exchange programs; and
  • a leadership group that specifically looks at French immersion issues and makes recommendations to senior central office administrators. This group may include teachers, administrators, parents, trustees and students.

A firm commitment from the Board ensures the best learning conditions for students and contributes to the quality and stability of the French immersion program. Long-term growth may include:

  • ensuring the availability of the program from Kindergarten to Grade 12;
  • locating the programs in facilities that can accommodate both growth and expansion and that ensure access by the broadest population;
  • ensuring that supports are in place to meet the needs of all students;
  • helping parents make informed decisions by providing them with the information and support they need; and
  • tracking enrolments, identifying reasons for changes in enrolments and addressing the issues.

The following are suggestions for long-term planning for staffing needs:

  • When hiring teaching staff, consider French language proficiency, understanding of immersion methodology and subject area specialties.
  • When staffing leadership positions, attitudes towards French immersion and second language learning in general should be key considerations.
  • Hiring of all staff, whether directly involved in the French immersion program or not, should take into consideration positive attitudes towards French immersion and second language learning—look for acceptance and inclusiveness.

Professional Development
Some suggestions for long-term planning for the professional development needs related to French immersion are as follows:

  • Recognize that French immersion teachers have specific professional development needs in addition to their subject areas, such as methodology and language and cultural development. The Alberta Regional Consortia offer workshops intended for French immersion teachers.
  • Plan the school year calendar so that professional development days are scheduled to permit French immersion teachers and/or administrators to participate in major conferences when held nearby, such as:
  • Subscribe to professional journals related to French second language education and ensure access to these documents.
  • Promoting networking opportunities within and among jurisdictions.
  • Encourage educators to apply for individual teacher bursaries to attend French language courses that can provide them with enhanced language skills and the opportunity to experience second language learning personally.

Support Services
Typically, jurisdictions have support systems in place for the programs they offer. These may include centralized document production, student transportation, counseling and other student services, and system committees for such tasks as designing report cards. Are the needs of the French immersion program considered when staffing for and providing these services?

In addition, those professionals offering support services in the jurisdiction should have a basic understanding of how immersion works and its implications within their own areas of expertise. For example, guidance counselors should be able to support the French immersion student in choosing appropriate high school courses or postsecondary programs in French as well as providing information about career opportunities.

Quality and Assessment
It is important that the jurisdiction undertake regular program reviews to ensure that the following three elements are in place and working well:

  • Programs of Study and support documents are available and being used effectively.
  • Adequate resources are available to administrators, teachers and students and are being used.
  • Teachers are well supported.

The data collection procedures listed below may help determine the levels of success:

  • provincial achievement tests and diploma exams results;
  • jurisdiction-wide surveys administered to teachers, parents and students over a period of time to measure satisfaction with the program;
  • tracking of enrolments from grade to grade to monitor retention of students;
  • student interest as demonstrated by enrolment in the program over time.

For more information on quality and assessment of the French immersion program, Canadian Parents for French has produced a self-assessment tool to help schools assess and evaluate their French second language programs.