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Appendix A: The K–12 Education System in British Columbia  

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Annual Service Plan Reports 2004/05 Home
B.C. Home  Annual Service Plan Reports 2004/05   Ministry Role and Services Adobe Acrobat Reader link page.

Ministry Role and Services

Vision, Mission and Values


The ministry's vision is a high quality education system that puts student achievement at the center of all decision-making.


The purpose of the British Columbia school system is to enable learners to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy society and a prosperous and sustainable economy.


The Ministry of Education is comprised of a professional, non-partisan public service that respects the Standard of Conduct for Public Service Employees. The ministry is an organization whose employees work together to improve student achievement in British Columbia. The ministry is committed to the goals and objectives set out in A Corporate Human Resource Plan for the Public Service of British Columbia and in the ministry's Corporate Human Resources Plan. Ministry employees agree that it is important to demonstrate the following behaviors in daily interactions with the public and with one another:

  • to behave with integrity, promoting relationships of mutual trust, confidence and respect;
  • to provide high levels of service to everyone with whom we come in contact;
  • to ensure information is shared in a relevant and timely manner;
  • to identify and acknowledge problems and work together to resolve them; and
  • to acknowledge each other's contributions.

Ministry Overview, Core Business Areas and Structure

Ministry Overview

The roles and responsibilities of the Ministry of Education and its partners are set out under the School Act, the Teaching Profession Act, the Independent School Act and accompanying regulations. The core business of the ministry is to provide funding, establish governance structures, set educational standards, monitor student performance and report results to the public. British Columbia's K–12 system10 serves approximately 574,230 public school FTE's11 (full-time equivalents), approximately 62,550 independent school student FTE's and over 3,060 home-schooled children (please refer to Appendix A for a more detailed description of the K–12 education system). The ministry focuses on its five core business areas (outlined below) to achieve its goals and objectives. (The resource information on core business areas is available in the Resource Summary on page 45).

10  The data used is for the 2004/05 school year.
11  The total of 574,230 Public School funded enrolment FTE's is comprised of 563,864 school age FTE's and 10,366 adult FTE's.

1. Public Schools The ministry provides operating funding to school boards and others to support the K–12 public school system.

2. Independent Schools As legislated under the Independent School Act, the ministry provides operating funding to approximately 352 independent schools. Approximately 10.5 per cent of the K–12 population is currently enrolled in independent schools. The Inspector of Independent Schools is responsible to the Minister of Education for the administration of the Independent School Act.

3. Debt Service and Amortization The ministry provides funding to public schools to finance capital projects including upgrades, renovations, expansions, new facilities and buses, and is also responsible for debt services and amortization.

4. Management Services Management Services provides corporate services to operating programs, including financial, budget, human resources, information management, administrative services, freedom of information and privacy services, and general services assistance for the Ministries of Education, Advanced Education, and Skills Development and Labour.

5. Executive and Support Services The ministry provides leadership and develops policy and legislation, oversees system governance, sets results-based standards and accountability frameworks, monitors performance, and reports results. This area includes the Minister's Office and Ministry Program Management.

Ministry Organization Structure

Key Ministry Functions

Key Ministry Functions.

Ministry Operating Context

The provincial government, through cabinet and the minister, determines overall education policy and direction, and passes legislation for the K–12 education system. Under s. 93 of the Constitution Act, each province has legislative authority over education. Within the public K–12 system, the duties and responsibilities of the Ministry of Education and school boards are described in the School Act and related regulations. In British Columbia, the Minister of Education is responsible for the education system from Kindergarten through Grade 12 and for the operation of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education has a substantive and primary role in determining education policies in the areas discussed below.

School boards, in accordance with specified powers, have a duty to govern schools in a fiscally responsible and cost effective manner. School boards may also set education policies that reflect the aspirations of the local community. School boards employ school district staff, prepare and manage the district's operating budget and capital plan, prepare an annual accountability contract, approve local courses, and adjudicate complaints from parents and students. While school boards may delegate administrative and management duties to employees, the responsibility for decision-making legally resides with the school board.

The Inspector of Independent Schools is responsible for the administration of the Independent School Act, regulations and Minister's Orders. Responsibilities include classifying and inspecting independent schools, ensuring schools meet the requirements of the Act and certifying independent school teachers. Other responsibilities include administering the offshore school certification program as well as setting home-school policies.

Funding to BC public schools has increased by $303 million between the 2000/01 and 2004/05 school years — $150 million for district operating grants and $153 million for special, one-time grants. Between the 2000/01 and 2005/06 school years, public school enrolment is projected to decline by almost 30,000 FTE's. The 2005 Throne Speech announced $150 million in new funding to help school districts continue to focus on improving student achievement. The challenge the ministry faces is to ensure that resources are distributed in a way that best meets the goal of improved student achievement, while continuing to respect local autonomy.

Over the last several decades there has been an increased focus on education at the local, provincial, national and international levels. The definition of education has expanded to include all types of learning at any time, and any place. Educational services have likewise expanded to keep up with the public's expectations, to include distance learning, early childhood education, as well as a renewed focus on health and literacy. Other factors affecting the education system include:

  • Student enrolment is expected to decline over the next five years due to a declining birth rate and an aging population. Most regions are already experiencing declining enrolments, with peak enrolments at Grade 11 and small, but consistent declines for each grade thereafter.
  • The Aboriginal population in BC is young and growing at a faster rate than the non-Aboriginal population. As the Aboriginal population grows there will be increased demand for programs that improve outcomes for this population group.
  • Many working parents would like schools to provide, or link to, additional services such as preschool and full-day kindergarten/childcare. The importance of early development in a child's school success is becoming more generally appreciated. Such factors are creating pressure to provide preschool or early childhood education programs.
  • Immigration has fueled an ongoing need for English as a Second Language (ESL) services in several districts, and some districts provide settlement support services for immigrant families with school-aged children. In 2004, a total of 37,045 immigrants landed in British Columbia, an increase of 1,806 individuals over the previous year.12
  • An aging workforce is fueling an ever-growing need for qualified young people to meet employers' demands, particularly in the trades sector.

The rapid growth of technology will continue to alter the face of education as it has traditionally been known. New opportunities exist for delivering services, monitoring and reporting performance and managing schools. Providers from other jurisdictions are now able to deliver educational programs into British Columbia, and vice versa. The capacity of information technology to collect, package and deliver educational services will continue to grow in the years ahead. Across many occupations, technological advances necessitate higher levels of employee knowledge and skills, even in entry-level positions. The high-tech and trades sectors continue to expand, as does the long-term requirement for employees with specific technical and computer skills.

12  Source — BC Stats website: (data provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada).

Strategic Shifts and Significant Changes in Policy Direction

2004–2005 Strategic Shifts and Changes

There were no strategic shifts or changes in policy direction for the reporting year.

2005–2006 Strategic Direction

For the upcoming year, the Ministry of Education will focus on three key areas: literacy, health, and school/community partnerships.


The Provincial Government is committed to helping children and adults gain the literacy skills they need for full participation in society. The government's literacy strategy is aimed at promoting improvements in reading, writing, numeracy and computer literacy for all British Columbians. A Premier's Advisory Panel on Literacy is assessing literacy challenges, identifying urgent needs, and developing an action plan to help BC meet its literacy goals. As well, government's LiteracyNow initiative is supporting community-based literacy programs, and working closely with volunteer and non-profit organizations. Finally, this year the government will again match donations raised by the successful Raise-a-Reader program on a dollar-for-dollar basis. All of this will move our province closer to its goal in education and literacy.

The Ministry of Education has a number of initiatives and strategies that build on government's efforts to make BC the most literate and best-educated jurisdiction in North America — these include:

  • A $5 million program for literacy innovation grants for public schools;
  • $10 million for new textbooks, to ensure students have the tools they need to achieve their best in school, and a book for every Kindergarten student in the province, in order to encourage parents and children to read together;
  • Ready, Set, Learn13 — this initiative was developed for families and their three-year olds, in order to create positive connections between families, the school system and community agencies that provide early childhood development support and services;
  • A Literacy website with a wealth of resources for teachers and parents;14
  • Numeracy Resources — for Kindergarten and Grade 1, numeracy resources are available that will help teachers and parents improve children's math skills; and
  • Guides to Reading and Writing Standards for parents of students in Grades 1 to 4 to help parents understand what their children should be learning at school.

13  For information on Ready, Set, Learn please visit:
14  To view Literacy website, please go to:



Health Promoting Schools

In January 2005, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health Services hosted a province-wide forum to promote health in schools and to begin work on a policy framework for health-promoting schools.15 By adopting a health-promoting schools approach, the British Columbia school system can enhance the health and learning capacities of all British Columbian students. The school setting provides a unique opportunity to positively influence the many domains of student health in and outside the classroom. By working with teachers, parents, school administrators, health authorities, government, community groups and students, the ministry is creating an environment that fosters healthy living habits that last a lifetime. This initiative supports the Government of BC's commitment to enhance the health and education outcomes of all BC's children and youth, and the goal of significantly improving the health of its citizens by the 2010 Olympics. Areas of focus for Health Promoting Schools in 2005/06 include:

  • Promoting healthy food choices and physical activity
  • Enhancing health-related learning in and outside the classroom
  • Encouraging partnerships, community links, and support services that promote health

A health-promoting school embraces the view that promoting children's health is a shared responsibility with parents, the health sector, and the community.

15  For more information on health-promoting schools, please visit:


Community Connections

School Community Connections

In 2004–2005 the Ministry of Education facilitated the launch of School Community Connections with a grant of $10 million. The purpose of this initiative is to increase the number of schools that are centers for community activities and services. As shifting demographics and population patterns have left a number of schools underutilized or vacant, School Community Connections will benefit BC communities by helping school boards and local governments revitalize these schools as centers for community learning and activity. The BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) and the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) will co-manage the program, in consultation with the Ministry of Education. By making space available in schools for services such as day care and seniors' centers, local schools are strengthening their ties with the community. The evolution of the school-community partnership will result in better educated, more active, and more connected communities.

New Era Commitments

During the past year, the Ministry of Education has made continued progress on its New Era Commitments.

New Era Commitment: Work with educators and employers to expand job training and skills development.

In support of the government's goal of a strong and vibrant economy, and to provide skilled workers for a changing and growing economy, the Ministry of Education has undertaken initiatives designed to provide students with more training in the workplace. This is an area that will benefit from continued focus. In conjunction with the Industry Training Authority, the ministry held eight regional focus sessions around the province to seek input from educators and employers on how we can best increase participation by secondary students in industry training programs.

  • The Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Industry Training Authority and the Ministry of Advanced Education, developed and implemented a new program that allows secondary students to complete industry recognized technical training as part of their Graduation Program courses. The Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training program (ACE IT) enrolled 831 secondary students in its first semester of operation.
  • In consultation with educators and industry association representatives, the ministry developed a new Program Guide for Secondary School Apprenticeship.16
  • The Ministry of Education is supporting the BC Business Council's development of a new interactive DVD resource highlighting skilled trades opportunities for BC students.

16  For more information, please visit:

New Era Commitment: Provide teachers with more technology training.

Due to the constantly evolving nature of technology, teachers require ongoing training so that their students receive an up to date, relevant educational program. As part of these ongoing efforts, the ministry has signed agreements with Simon Fraser University and Malaspina University College to develop and deliver two offerings of an Online Literacy Course through their Continuing Education programs. The course design focuses on literacy strategies, embedded technology skills and includes practical tools teachers can use with their students to improve literacy skills.

Malaspina University College has completed its first course offering and will be delivering it for a second time in Summer 2005. SFU has scheduled two offerings of its Online Literacy course for Fall 2005. The overall target for both institutions is to successfully train approximately 200 registrants.

New Era Commitment Status
1. Maintain and increase education funding levels by increasing revenues through economic growth. Completed
2. Give local school boards more autonomy and control over the delivery of education services, subject to provincial testing and curriculum. Completed
3. Maintain current funding arrangements for independent schools. Completed
4. Eliminate the PST on basic school supplies purchased by Parent Advisory Councils, which volunteer their time and effort to raise money for public schools. Completed
5. Guarantee that parents of students attending schools are entitled to volunteer their services, provided it does not result in the displacement of existing staff services. Completed
6. Improve school accreditations. Completed
7. Give school boards multi-year funding envelopes, to improve long-term education planning and budgeting. Completed
8. Restore education as an essential service under the labour code, to ensure that no child's right to an education is denied during school strikes and lockouts. Completed
9. Establish specific goals and outcomes to measure the success of educators in public schooling. Completed
10. Devote more of each education dollar to improving the quality of education, and less to bureaucracy. Completed
11. Support more flexibility and choice in public schooling. Completed
12. Work with educators and employers to expand job training and skills development. Ongoing
13. Provide teachers with more technology training. Ongoing
14. Ensure that music, arts and physical education curriculums are fully funded in BC's public schools. Completed
15. Put more computers in schools and increase resources to improve computer literacy for students of all ages. Completed


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