What should districts know about Focused Education Resources?
Focused Education Resources (FocusED) is a new not-for-profit organization created to support excellence in K-12 education in British Columbia. We provide support and build capacity for school districts, independent and First Nations schools, other stakeholders and partners, and ultimately students.
FocusED expands on the work and benefits of our predecessor organizations, Education Resources Acquisition Consortium (ERAC) and BC Education Marketplace (BCEM). Education Resources Acquisition Consortium launched in 2005 under the Vancouver School Board (SD39) supported by funding from the Ministry of Education and member fees. As a member-based organization, ERAC served the K-12 education sector in BC and the Yukon, including evaluating learning resources, help licensing digital learning resources, professional learning support for digital resources, and privacy and risk assessment support services. BCEM was a K-12 public school initiative created in 2015 to establish shared contracts for goods and services as well as resources to support procurement best practices across the K-12 sector. It was ministry funded and supported by Surrey School District (SD36). Like ERAC, BCEM provided districts with hard savings while saving staff time. BCEM periodically surveyed school districts for new project ideas.
In early 2018 ERAC and BCEM, supported by the Ministry of Education, agreed to explore steps toward establishing an independent, legal entity that would combine the functions of both organizations. We hope FocusED’s broader mandate will realize improved outcomes for members and better support for the K-12 education system.
What do you do at FocusED? What do you enjoy most about your role?
FocusED was founded in February 2019 and I started as executive director April 1. My primary focus has been getting the new organization underway, putting all the business functions we need to operate in place. I’m also learning about the services ERAC and BCEM have been providing to school districts, and starting conversations with districts about where we can provide additional support going forward, particularly in key areas such as learning resource evaluations, licensing and associated professional learning, procurement, privacy impact assessments, cybersecurity and other areas.
What are some projects you’ve been involved in recently?
One of the first things FocusED took on was supporting districts in procuring menstrual products (per the recent policy issued by the Ministry of Education). Through a public tendering process, we selected Grand & Toy as the supplier of record and then put a framework agreement in place whereby districts could go directly to the supplier and purchase products at a discounted rate. Coordinated purchasing gives districts cost-savings and saves staff time. Over the past six months we’ve also renewed the BC Digital Classroom suite of digital resources, delivered a professional learning workshop to educators during the summer, and hosted a one-day Due Diligence Conference for members in early October.
What are your most popular services or resources?
Coming in November is a conference that ERAC created and FocusED will continue to deliver: IT4K12. IT4K12 is a one-of-a-kind event taking place November 14 and 15, bringing together educators and IT professionals from BC school districts, independent schools and other educational organizations to learn about emerging trends in the K-12 context. Educators can also access our evaluated K-12 curriculum resources through our website, which are a great support to schools around BC.
Where should people go to find out more about FocusED and the services you offer?
We’re so new that we don’t have a website yet. We’re working on it! In the meantime, some of the education resources, and other services we provide such as technology services can be seen on our interim site at focusedresources.ca.