North Vancouver school district mulls IB for Norgate

Norgate Elementary may be the next school in North Vancouver to sign on to the International Baccalaureate program.

North Vancouver school trustees recently endorsed the idea of expanding the primary IB program – already in place at Capilano and Queen Mary elementary schools – to Norgate.

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The International Baccalaureate program emphasizes problem solving and global citizenship – which is similar to what is already being encouraged in schools under B.C.’s new curriculum said assistant superintendent, Chris Atkinson.

The program encourages students to think critically, work collaboratively in groups and take risks, Atkinson added.

The program has been very popular with families at both Capilano and Queen Mary. Currently, Capilano is so full the school doesn’t accept students from outside its catchment area, while Norgate operates at about 53 per cent capacity.

That’s in part what recently prompted the school district to change school catchment boundaries, essentially removing an area west of Capilano Road and north of Marine Drive from the Capilano catchment and placing it into the Norgate catchment. The area includes an area slated for development as Lions Gate Village in lower Capilano.

But not all families have been happy with the change – particularly those who hoped their kids would attend Capilano’s IB program.

According to a report from school district staff, if no local IB expansion is considered, it’s possible those students will opt to attend a French Immersion IB program in West Vancouver instead.

Following staff training and community consultation, a trial year for the IB program could start at Norgate in September 2020, with formal evaluation and acceptance into the program the following year.

Trustees also approved the idea of expanding the IB primary years program to Larson Elementary as well, although that wouldn’t happen until after the program was up and running at Norgate.

“It’s important to go slowly in this and get it right,” said Atkinson.

Both Larson and Norgate feed into the catchment for Carson Graham Secondary, which also offers the IB program.

Putting the IB program in place comes with costs. A budget presented to trustees put that at approximately $264,000 extra per year to start to offer IB at Norgate. About $100,000 of that would go to pay an extra classroom teacher as IB classes in North Vancouver do not include split-grade classes. About another $100,000 would go towards paying a language teacher as part of the IB curriculum. Other costs include paying for teacher training in IB and curriculum support.

Staff are expected to report back to trustees in January following consultation with parents and the Squamish Nation.


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