Moving minutes around does not get our students moving

9 April 2019

The Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) has just submitted its comments on the Projet de règlement sur le calendrier scolaire et le temps prescrit[1] to the Minister of Education.

This change to the Régime pédagogique de l’éducation préscolaire, de l’enseignement primaire et de l’enseignement secondaire will have an impact on school support staff and other education workers.

Reasons for the change

The FPSS-CSQ would have liked to meet with the Minister of Education to know the reasons behind his decision to change these elements of the Régime pédagogique. It was only through the media that we learned about the Minister of Education wanting to increase physical activity among youth.

Instead of extending the duration of recess breaks, we believe there are other ways to do this. Here are a few.

Extracurricular activities

If we want to keep young people in school, they must want to attend and extracurricular activities play a key role.

Resources are needed

To improve access to extracurricular activities, we need more support staff resources, such as recreation technicians, special education technicians, laboratory technicians, computer technicians and many others.

Recreation technicians can do great things, but we must give them the means.  It cannot be done with the current average of 0.6 full-time equivalent recreation technicians per high school [2].

Day care

Daycare services contribute to student success by allowing students to take breaks between class periods and return to class more disposed to learning.

A shorter lunch break

For schools that already have two 15-minute recess breaks in the morning and afternoon, an additional 10 minutes per day seems minimal, but students’ schedules will need to be changed.  Schools that decide to start earlier in the morning or finish later in the day will need to align their schedules with school transportation, which may not be easy for some of them.

This is why we suspect that many schools will decide to reduce the lunch hour by 10 minutes.

For students who attend day care, the 10 minutes at lunchtime when they have the opportunity to do physical activity will be shifted to the morning or afternoon.  This is not an addition of minutes, only a shifting of them. Given the high day care attendance of primary students, this is not a change that will make a difference.

Proposal

It would be more appropriate to entrust the monitoring of recreation periods to people who will be able to devote themselves fully to them.

For example, student supervisors, day care educators or special education technicians could supervise both recreation periods, which would allow teachers to devote themselves to other tasks.  Since they are overworked, this would surely be appreciated.  But the impact of this would need to be verified by our teachers.

We believe there are other ways to achieve the objectives of physical activity and educational success.  But if this remains the intended scenario, tasks related to student supervision and animation should be assigned to school support staff.

Moving minutes around does not get our students moving!

[1] Comments on the projet de règlement sur le calendrier scolaire et le temps prescrit – FPSS-CSQ – April 5, 2019 – http://fpss.lacsq.org/app/uploads/2019/04/FPSS-CSQ-Commentaires-sur-le-Projet-de-r%C3%A8glement-sur-le-calendrier-scolaire-et-le-temps-prescrit.pdf

[2] PERCOS data, 2016-2017

Éric Pronovost, President of the FPSS-CSQ