Compulsory Academic and Career Guidance Content on its Way

Starting this fall, 28 Québec schools will systematically apply the Guidance-Oriented Approach to Learning to raise students’ awareness of their academic and career options. It’s part of the broader effort to lower the dropout rate by making school more relevant. Following this pilot project, the MELS will require all schools to integrate academic and career guidance content into the curriculum, effective September 2015.

By Marsha Gouett & Laurene Bennett

Making Dream Come TrueIf you have worked in education in Québec in the last 15 years, you may have heard about GOAL, the Guidance-Oriented Approach to Learning. At least, those of us who directly support GOAL activities certainly hope this is the case! Since 1998, when the Ministère de l’Éducation documented the Complementary Educational Services that must be offered to all Québec students, helping young people with their academic and career choices has been an expressly stated objective.

An initial financial measure to support “l’approche orientante” and a series of ministerial documents in 2002 (À chacun son rêve/Making Dreams Come True) put GOAL in place. Since then, many educators have integrated GOAL into classrooms across the province. The GOAL Network and the The GOAL Post have supported their activities in the English sector.

Systematic inclusion in each cycle

After many requests from the educational community to improve academic and career guidance for students, the MELS is taking this process a step further. For the first time, it is identifying compulsory content that will allow schools to fulfill their obligation to students in this area of Complementary Educational Services. In a June 2013 letter to the directors general of Québec’s school boards, then Deputy Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, Bernard Matte, announced the implementation of “apprentissages obligatoires en orientation scolaire et professionnelle” in Elementary Cycle Three and Secondary Cycles One and Two, effective September 2015. This compulsory learning in academic and career awareness is expected to require five to 10 hours per year. Its systematic inclusion in each of these three cycles should gradually reinforce students’ appreciation of their own interests and aptitudes, their understanding of how they might fit into the world of work and their knowledge of the possibilities for education and training available to them. As they move from one cycle to the next, their choices should also be more informed.

This is an exciting breakthrough that validates what
so many teachers are already doing.

For those of us who have seen the many ways GOAL can positively influence students’ desire to learn and stay in school, this is an exciting breakthrough. It validates what so many teachers are already doing in the classroom, whether they specifically refer to it as GOAL or not. The process of developing an action plan will allow school teams to take stock of their current GOAL activities and to coordinate them for even greater impact. It will also allow them to identify new opportunities for making kids more aware of their academic and career choices.

Four English schools involved in pilot

Of the 28 schools who will pilot compulsory academic and career guidance content, these four are from the English sector:

  • Cedar Street Elementary School – RSB – Elementary Cycle Three
  • Mary Gardner Elementary School – NFSB – Elementary Cycle Three
  • Beaconsfield High School – LBPSB – Secondary Cycle One
  • Massey Vanier High School – ETSB – Secondary Cycle Two

From the outset, the MELS has recognized there is no set way to improve student awareness in this area. Over the 2014-2015 year, each pilot school will experiment with different ideas and activities that best reflect its particular context. A series of videoconferences will enable all the pilot schools to share their experiences, identify an array of initiatives and activities that work, and pinpoint which elements could use some rethinking before the province-wide launch.

– M.G. & L.B.

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