OACS News Service
Ont. independent school reps meet for first time in years
While the main purpose was to network, the group directed
that networking to a specific issue, which is the mounting
public accountability expectations independent schools
The group discussed where this growing expectation appears to be headed, what the response should be, how they can prepare themselves and how they can work together.
The reps plan to meet again in May, when they will “dig
a little deeper,” Bierman says.
“We’ll also have lunch together,” Bierman says, noting she believes one of the best aspects of this last gathering was the “unscheduled or informal part of it.”
“You get all these people around tables meeting each other and talking and seeing for themselves that it’s always better to work together on bigger issues than it is to try and work things out on your own.”
The co-hosts ensured there was plenty of opportunity for that conversation to happen by mixing up the groups at each table.
“It was a wonderful to watch that all play out through the afternoon,” Bierman says.
Several e-mails have been sent since the Feb. 28 forum, all very positive, she adds.
“People are really excited to have been together, about the prospect of being together again and the things that we can accomplish together.
“I haven’t seen that level of interest in the 13 to14 years that I’ve been involved, so to me that’s really hopeful and exciting.”
While there have been attempts in the past to convene
Ontario independent school representatives, they have not
ended well for various reasons.
For this group to continue to work, it may need less structure, she suggests.
However, the current position she’s taking with this is to “wait and see.”
“I do think we will have to see what organically arises from this group and how they want to proceed together,” she says, noting much of this will depend on the people who show up for these meetings.
Bierman adds she foresees significant possibilities in collaboration, whatever form it takes.
The group that met last week has estimated that of the 978 independent schools in the province, it represents more than half, as well as close to three quarters of the 126,000 students that attend independent schools in Ontario.
“That can be a very big voice, if we can learn to
work well together,” Bierman says, noting there are
resources for private schools that can be accessed from
government -- apart from school choice funding.
“So there are definitely things that a greater, stronger voice could likely have more success with.”
The invitation is wide open for other independent school representatives who didn’t take part in the last meeting to still join. “The important thing is for everyone to get to the table,” Bierman says.
For the time being, people can e-mail info(at)ofis.ca to learn more.You can comment on this story by e-mailing michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.
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