Our growth is our (and your) opportunity

Our growth is our (and your) opportunity

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Steve Gallagher (Regional Executive Director, Halifax Regional Centre for Education) | Published: May 1, 2024

As HRM’s population skyrocketed, enrolment increased in an unprecedented way across Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s 137 schools. Between September 2023 and March 2024, we welcomed 599 new students, and over the past five years, our enrolment has grown by more than 8100.

This growth shows no signs of slowing. During the month of February, which is Registration Month in HRCE, more than 2125 students were registered for September 2024—a number that will continue to grow daily until we open our doors in the fall. While these new students are often Pre-Primary and Primary students, many are also newcomers to our communities.

To account for this constant change, over the past six years, we have opened five schools (with three more in progress), added 141 modular classrooms, and made use of 60 portable classrooms. This year, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) announced four more schools to come for HRM.

While there are certainly challenges presented with this level of growth, we also recognize and celebrate the opportunities it creates—specifically, diversity. Of the 58,858 students in HRCE, 11 per cent are newcomers, a figure that encompasses students who have lived in Canada for five years or less.

As our system grows, so does our need for quality applicants to fill hundreds of roles across HRCE. (Insert shameless plug here: we update job postings every Wednesday all year round because we are always hiring!) Now, more than ever, it is necessary for us to recruit staff that reflect the diversity of our student body. We are committed to an inclusive education system that is high-quality, culturally and linguistically responsive, and supportive of the well-being and achievement of every student.

To take a closer look at our existing workforce, HRCE joined all Regional Centres for Education and Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial earlier this year in polling all staff to better understand the diversity of our current workforce. Once compiled, we will use this data to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within our workplaces.

As diversity expands, it’s essential that we are intentional in our work to ensure inclusion for all students. To support newcomers and their families in the transition to school, we recently opened a Newcomer Welcome Centre, located at St. Agnes Junior High. This is the first of its kind in Nova Scotia and an initiative we expect to grow. Our goal is to provide a welcoming environment for newcomers to complete registration and orientation to HRCE, offering language intake assessments to support school transition and access to programming supports for students and families.

In this launch phase, the Newcomer Welcome Centre will only support families associated with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) who will primarily be of refugee background and asylum seekers supported by the Halifax Refugee Clinic. As we expand, the Centre will begin to support families with other immigration status.

Your opportunity

You may be wondering, why does this matter to me? The old adage “many hands make light work” stands true in this situation. We always encourage community involvement. In the first semester of this year, businesses and organizations across HRM hosted more than 700 co-op students for hands-on learning opportunities. To accelerate English language acquisition among newcomer students, we’re piloting a new program of community-based learning experiences for Grade 10 students (the Newcomer Career Pathways Trial) who are interested in career exploration and preparing to explore our Options & Opportunities and co-op programs. These learning opportunities, facilitated by the local business community, help us champion the next generation of your workforce.

For more information on how your business can get involved with community-based learning opportunities for HRCE students, reach out to our Youth Pathways Consultant, Tom McCutcheon, at 902-464-2000 ext. 8499.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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