Understanding Secondary Cycle One

Understanding Secondary Cycle One

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All high school students in Québec pursue studies in the approved Ministère de l'Éducation et Enseignement supérieurQuebec Education Program in General Studies.

The Quebec Education Program (Q.E.P.) is designed as a system with three integrating elements: broad areas of learning, cross-curricular competencies and subject areas. Its structure is intended to facilitate the establishment of connections among the different educational components.

Broad areas of learning

The Q.E.P. presents a number of broadened areas of learning, which deal with major contemporary issues young people will have to confront, both individually and collectively, in different areas of their lives. These issues also represent challenges to their talent and creativity. Five areas were chosen on the basis of their importance for society and their relevance for the students’ education:

  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Media Literacy
  • Personal and Career Planning

Cross-curricular competencies

Cross-curricular competencies represent goals that are common to the whole curriculum. They apply to all the broad areas of learning and are also closely linked to the subject areas. The Q.E.P. contains nine cross curricular competencies grouped into four categories:

  • Intellectual: Uses information, solves problems; Exercises critical judgement; Uses creativity
  • Methodological: Adopts effective work methods; Uses information and communications technologies
  • Personal and Social: Achieves his/her potential; Cooperates with others
  • Communication: Communicates appropriately

Subject areas

Traditional high school courses (English, French, Math etc.) are grouped into subject areas that are related or have a common focus. The General Studies curriculum is split into six subject areas:

  • Languages
  • Social Studies
  • Mathematics, Science and Technology
  • Arts Education
  • Personal Development
  • Career Development

Québec schools today have a mandate to provide educational services to all young people, to take into account the diversity of their situations and to provide them with the tools necessary to achieve their social and intellectual potential in both their personal and working lives. This means that schools must play a multidimensional role in the lives of young people. Thus, according to MEES, a schools’ mission is threefold: to provide instruction, to socialize and to provide qualifications.

Secondary Cycle 1 reflects a notion of “common basic training” for students in secondary 1 (grade 7) and secondary 2 (grade 8). 

Starting in 2001, the government of Quebec made major changes to the regulations governing schools and school boards with regard to the educational services they provide. First of all, the regulations established two-year teaching cycles for the elementary school and for the first cycle of secondary school and it required each cycle to be completed prior to a formal assessment of student learning. 

During a cycle, eight communications to parents are stipulated (including five report cards, in addition to the end-of-cycle assessment) to inform them of the student’s progress, and, ultimately, to decide whether or not the student moves on to the next cycle represented by secondary 3-5. Initially, the possibility of repeating a year within a cycle was not contemplated; this was incorporated into the regulations later on. As a general rule, students progress from secondary 1 to secondary 2. It is only in certain circumstances where it would be deemed beneficial for a student to repeat sec. 1 that the placement recommendation is made.  

For more information on MEES Secondary Cycle One, please see: