The committee will have representatives from the Department of Education, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, the Association of Nova Scotia Education Administrators, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, the Nova Scotia Federation of Home and School Associations, the Council on African Canadian Education, the Youth Advisory Council, and the Council on Mi’kmaq Education. The committee will be chaired by Howard Windsor, the former appointed Halifax Regional School Board and a former deputy minister. “Chronic student absenteeism is a huge concern for teachers,” said NSTU president Alexis Allen. “We are pleased to work with our education partners to strengthen policies and practices in addressing this issue.” Ms. Streatch said while there is room for improvement, people should not forget that Nova Scotia’s schools are still safe places to learn and work. “Our provincial school code of conduct, school board policies and the programs we have in place provincially to promote respect and good behaviour are making a positive difference in schools,” she said. “But I also recognize that there is frustration from many parents, teachers and students who believe we can do more to improve the learning environment. “It is important that we continually examine the effectiveness of our strategies, and make improvements where we can.” The committee will proceed with an internal review and present its report to the education minister before the new school year. There will be an opportunity for public input during the process. Ms. Streatch said she is determined action will be taken in time for September. Chronic absenteeism and other issues affecting the learning environment in Nova Scotia schools will be the subject of a provincial review, Education Minister Judy Streatch announced today, May 19. The Minister’s Working Committee on Absenteeism and Classroom Climate will make recommendations to improve student attendance, increase engagement of students in their education and establish new and effective strategies to support a productive learning environment. “This review will result in improved class climate for all students,” said Ms. Streatch. “Our schools must, at all times, belong to the students who want to learn in a productive and respectful environment.” The committee’s terms of reference will include: Examining the challenges facing today’s classrooms and the effectiveness of policies and practices dealing with absenteeism and the active engagement of students in their learning; Identifying best practices and using them to foster good behaviour in schools and classrooms; Recommending how to best support an effective climate for teaching and learning; Examining the roles of school boards, school advisory councils and parents; Reviewing legislation, policies and guidelines related to student and parental responsibilities.