A Brief History

A Brief History of Parent Involvement in BC Public Education

“These materials have been reprinted from the Leadership Manual 2004 published by the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.”
No part of this manual may be reproduced for commercial purposes. © 2004 BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils

 

Parent groups have been active in BC’s public schools for over eighty years. On September 8, 1915, the first official parent organization was launched at the oldest school in the province, Craigflower on the outskirts of Victoria. In the same autumn, two groups were meeting in Vancouver to discuss organizing parent teacher associations at Bayview Elementary and King Edward High School. Other schools in the Vancouver area soon followed, leading to the creation of the Vancouver and District Parent Teacher Federation.

By 1922, the idea of parent involvement in education had spread so far across the province that it was evident that a provincial organization was needed. More than 60 associations sent 283 delegates to a conference in Vancouver to create a plan for a provincial federation. On April 22, 1922, the BC Parent Teacher Federation was formed, and plans were made to promote the ideals and objectives of the organization in all schools in the province.

Over the years, the provincial federation was successful in providing input to government on many educational, health, and safety issues affecting children and youth in BC. The name was changed to include the words “Home and School”, and the federation became a member of the Canadian Home and School Federation.

The BC chapter undertook provincial surveys, the last of which was to gather input for the Royal Commission on Education in 1987. Following the two-year Commission, the BC government amended the School Act to give parents the right to belong to a parent advisory council in their school, and through it to advise the board, principal, and staff on any matter relating to the school. Many parent organizations already in place in schools became the official parent advisory council for the school. Many more schools acquired a council for the first time.

More legislative changes came in 2002. Parents were given the right to form a district parent advisory council in their school district, and through it to advise the board on any matter relating to education in the district. School planning councils in every school were legislated for the first time, with the responsibility of creating an annual school plan for improving student achievement. Parents were given majority representation (3) on the school planning council, joining the principal, one teacher, and a senior student in secondary schools.

The BC Parent Teacher Home and School Federation changed its name to BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils in 1990.

Since 1989, BCCPAC has held two conferences each year. These conferences offer professional development opportunities for parents to learn more about supporting student learning. Parents discuss educational issues, share information, and express their views to the Ministry of Education and partner group representatives.

BCCPAC is the parent voice on provincial committees dealing with a wide range of issues, including student assessment, Aboriginal education, curriculum, and school safety. Just as a principal consults with the PAC on school issues and a school board consults with the DPAC on district issues, the Minister of Education consults with BCCPAC on public education issues in the province.