Students and teachers across the province will return to the classroom over the next couple of days to kick off the 2010-11 school year. Programs will have an increased focus on student safety, world culture, literacy, math and health. “Government has been working hard to make life better for families in all regions of our province, and education plays a key role in that success,” said Education Minister Marilyn More. “I am pleased to welcome all of our students and teachers back to school for another safe and busy year filled with lots of exciting learning opportunities and fun.” As part of a new workplace health and safety module that will be included in the compulsory healthy living course, Grade 9 students will learn the difference between safe and unsafe work, their workplace rights, and how to question and evaluate their work environment. Also, teachers in English schools of grades primary to nine will receive personal safety program resources that will help students think about a variety of health topics and decisions, such as developing safe attitudes and practices in a various of settings. Other highlights include a new social studies world cultures course in English schools that will teach Grade 6 students about environmental sustainability, global economics and active citizenship. In French schools, there will be a new social studies curriculum for grades primary to 3 in all schools. There will also be a pilot program offered in French-Language Arts for students in grades primary to grade 4 and grades 7 and 8. A new French-language Arts program for grade five and six students will be piloted next year. New literacy resources will be provided to Grade 7 classrooms, and support will continue to implement a new geometry curriculum and resources for junior high grades in English schools. The individual school literacy mentorship program will also continue in all French schools, with learning resources to support all initiatives. “This school year we will be very focused on providing students and teachers with the support and resources they need to be successful in all subject areas, while promoting a culture of safety, both in the classroom and workforce,” said Ms. More. “These new and existing programs provide students with a variety of valuable learning opportunities as they build the skills needed to fill good jobs in the future.” The Department of Education will provide resources and professional learning opportunities for Grade 7 mathematics teachers in English schools to help them address the learning needs of students who did not meet Elementary Mathematics Literacy Assessment standards. Follow-up will also be conducted for the Grade 7 math results in French. This is currently done on an annual basis in grades 4, 5 and 6. A pilot for a new math program for grades 3 to 9 will be available in all French schools. The Department of Education will also release its first online back-to-school newsletter for families, students and teachers. This newsletter provides helpful tips on how to have a healthy, safe and active year, information on government programs and important dates. “I hope families and teachers find this newsletter and other resources helpful as they prepare for another year of school assignments and activities,” said Ms. More. “I look forward to hearing about, and celebrating, the many achievements our students will enjoy over the next school year.” To read the newsletter visit http://back2school.ednet.ns.ca .