News / Halifax

Council on classroom conditions revises Nova Scotia attendance policy

The council members hope a province-wide policy can bring some consistency with clearer expectations.

Sean Barker speaks to other members at the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions on Tuesday.

Patrick Fulgencio -for Metro

Sean Barker speaks to other members at the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions on Tuesday.

Liz Brideau-Clark says that she’s seen the frequency of absences go up in the most recent years of her teaching career.

She teaches Grade 8 and 9 at Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay and is a member of the Council for Improved Classroom Conditions, which has reviewed and revised an attendance policy from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development during their meetings this week.

Now they’re looking for feedback from other Nova Scotians.

"Our goal is to make students very good citizens, whether that's at our school or if that's in the future and we feel the attendance policy will certainly support that,” said Pam Doyle, a guidance counselor at Lockview High School in Fall River and member of the council, during a press conference Thursday.

Current attendance policy is school based and not province wide. Doyle hopes a policy will bring some consistency because there are clear expectations.

The policy clearly defines excused absences and unexcused absences. It also outlines a plan of intervention: if a student is late or absent for 10 to 15 per cent of classes, they will meet with a group of school staff, address the issues keeping them from school and a plan moving forward.

"Some students will work well with an incentive-based plan: others will not,” said Doyle.

The policy focuses on removing the barriers between individual students and coming to school.

"It might be that someone is having issues personally and so they're not able to show up for whatever reason" said Brideau-Clark.

The policy emphasizes that students who are missing school for reasons such as mental health issues will be referred to supports, such as a guidance counselor.

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