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Background

In the province of Quebec, English language-minority communities do not always have equitable access to education or health and social services. The Community Learning Centre (CLC) Initiative was established to help address this gap by building partnerships between English schools and their communities. These partnerships, which are facilitated by a dedicated coordinator, help to generate and leverage resources that benefit students, their families, and the broader community. Each CLC school is unique, adapting to the communities it serves, and is focused on two main objectives: enhancing student success and preserving the vitality of the English community.

Funded through the Canada-Quebec Agreement for Minority Language Education and Second Language Instruction, the CLC Initiative was launched in 2006 with 15 schools. Today the network has expanded to include more than 74 schools, located in urban, rural, and remote communities.

Based on the recognition that it takes a village to raise a child, the community school movement has been growing in Europe, Australia, the USA, and Canada over the past 15 years. “Community schools are a strategy, not a program. They are both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, services, supports and opportunities leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community, open to everyone. They transform schools and communities.” http://www.nationalcenterforcommunityschools.org

In 2014, CLC Schools became part of LEARN, a non-profit organization that serves the public and private Anglophone, and Aboriginal, Youth and Adult Education sectors of Québec. LEARN’s CLC Network bring together the expertise and efforts of educators, students, parents, and partners in our community to cultivate success for all learners.


About Us

CLC schools have a dual mandate in Quebec: student perseverance and community vitality. In CLCs, a dedicated coordinator works closely with their school principal(s) and staff to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with community-based organizations, municipalities, local businesses, families, and community members. These partnerships result in support to community and school improvement through enhanced access to recreational, educational, social, and cultural opportunities for youth, families, and the English-speaking community at large.

The collaborative nature of the CLC Initiative is also helping to position English School Boards as both educational and community leaders. Since 2006, the CLC Initiative has contributed to an improved sense of wellbeing and belonging and increased access to resources and services for English-speaking community members, as well as increased student engagement in school and community service.

The network of 74 CLC community schools provide a range of services and activities, often beyond the school day, to help meet the needs of students, their families, and the wider community. Through partnerships with local organizations, businesses, and community members, CLC schools experience increased volunteerism rates and have greater access to local expertise, often resulting in increased material and financial support. CLC schools are opening their doors after school hours to facilitate access to social services and recreational and lifelong learning opportunities intended for students, their families, and English-speaking community members.

From urban to rural to isolated settings, CLC schools support English-speaking communities across the province bringing resources and new life to schools with declining populations, often spread over huge geographic areas and coping with decreasing demographics and increasing poverty. CLCs are bringing vitality back to their communities by encouraging awareness of and facilitating access to both formal and non-formal lifelong learning opportunities.

All across Quebec, people are concerned about student success, the viability of our English school system, and the sustainability of our communities. The CLC community school model is based on the belief that by working together, our children will succeed, our schools will contribute to the revitalization of English-speaking minority communities, and our communities will support strong and vibrant schools.


Structure and Governance

Initially the CLC Initiative was administered by the Quebec Ministry of Education (MELS), under the Secteur Services à la communauté anglophone, but in 2014 CLCs became part of LEARN, and with that change came a new governance structure.

The Provincial Resource Team (PRT) continues to support the growth and development of the CLC schools and now reports to a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from the table of Director Generals, MELS, and LEARN.

The Steering Committee reports to the LEARN Board of Directors, which subsequently reports to the Association of Directors General of English School Boards of Quebec (ADGESBQ). The Directors General manage the funding from the Canada-Québec Agreement for Minority-Language Education and Second-Language Instruction, where CLC funding emanates from.

An Advisory Committee was also established to offer guidance and support to the CLC Initiative. It is comprised of representatives of different key stakeholder groups from both community and school sectors, and meets several times a year for cross-sector dialogue on key issues. This committee also provides feedback and guidance to the CLC Steering Committee on a variety of issues.

Two additional committees provide feedback and serve as consultative bodies for the CLC Provincial Resource Team:

  • The School Board Representatives Committee is made up of one member each from the nine English school boards, the Littoral special status school board, and from the Quebec Association of Jewish Day Schools. This group meets three times a year.
  • The Community Resource Committee is comprised of representatives from the various English-speaking community organizations and associations across the province. Membership on this committee varies year to year.
Organigram

In 2015, in an effort to address concerns about equity and sustainability of the CLC Initiative, the Provincial Resource Team, with the approval of the Steering Committee, began a formal process of extending the CLC model to include multiple schools under one coordination umbrella. These regional CLCs have common partners/networks and similar challenges to be addressed through the mobilization of community and partner resources. Each CLC, whether a stand-alone CLC or part of a multi-school regional model, has a leadership team comprised of one or more CLC School Principals as well as a Community Development Agent (CDA). The CLC Principal collaborates with the CDA, the school staff, and various partners to develop a school culture that engages families and community members.


The CLC Framework for Action

The Framework consists of five major action steps that are to be undertaken by schools/centres and their community partners to develop their CLC. In general, the CLCs develop action plans (theories of change) that focus on student success and community development. The Framework developed for CLCs is not a blueprint but an open-ended guide. Its purpose is to:
  • Be comprehensive but practical
  • Work with existing policy and practice
  • Respond to the needs of all partners
  • Advise, not prescribe
Throughout the process, the Provincial Resource Team supports the capacity development of CLC Community Development Agent and stakeholders. The five major action steps in the framework are:

EXPLORE the creation of a CLC: a formal partnership of one or more schools/centres, public or private agencies and community groups, working together for the benefit of students, families, and community.

INITIATE the partnership, a key transition point where commitment replaces contemplation. From afar, the steps look the same for any CLC but up close they will be different, depending on local context.

PLAN and develop a Theory of Change, which maps the ‘pathways to change’.

IMPLEMENT the theory of change developed in the previous step.

EVALUATE the performance of the CLC in accordance with steps 3 & 4 and the theory of change.