The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry

An Opportunity Analysis
* The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry
opened its doors for business in September
2013, its mission is simple: to change the vision
of public education in British Columbia.
* This venture is a risky one for all those
involved, from the teachers to the students to
Jeff Hopkins, the man who quit as
Superintendent of the Gulf Islands to start his
own school.
* This presentation will provide an Educational
Venture Analysis.
Use the menu to select the subcategory of
your choice
* CEO/Founder Jeff Hopkins was the Superintendent of Schools for
the Gulf Islands (School District 64) for over 7 years.
* That followed a 20 year career as a teacher, counsellor, and
* Has a Master’s Degree in Counselling from UNBC with a focus on
the locus of control and overt aggression in adolescents.
* Hopkins was also BC’s first Safe School Coordinator
* Embraced alternative education while Superintendent, such as
the Saturna Island Ecological Education Centre.
* Hopkins has often been applauded for his ‘enlightened’ view of
education and the problems therein.
Corrine Michel –
Teacher, B.Ed and M.A
from Uvic. 18+ years in
public school
Jessica Asp –
B.Sc. In
from McGill and
B.Ed from UVic.
Jake West - 8+ years of
experience teaching
ESL, Circus, BC High
School Academics,and
Rachel Mason B.Sc in Science
Studies from
Brown University,
and M. Ed. from
Vermont College.
10 + years
Sophia Malczewska - French
degree from UBC a teaching
certificate from Cambridge
currently working toward M.Ed
from UVIC
One of the primary areas of an EVA is the credibility of the
management team, which in this case, is the Principal and the staff
of the school.
Quite frankly, one of the best elements of the Pacific School of
Innovation and Inquiry is the leader at the helm. Jeff Hopkins
possesses the necessary experience to front a venture like this one.
His work as a Superintendent (which is considered the CEO of a
district) provides him the base to run a school of this nature. In
addition, during his time in education he has worked at other
‘alternative style’ educational facilities, such as Saturna Ecological
Education Centre in the Gulf Islands or the Windsor House School in
North Vancouver.
Hopkins has always expressed interest in revolutionizing education
and with this venture, will receive that opportunity.
In addition, the staff compiled at the Pacific School of Innovation
and Inquiry (PSII) were chosen from over 600 applicants. The
teachers come from a wide range of backgrounds and education
providing a balanced learning system.
* In summation, if a venture is to be judged by
its management team, the PSII is in great
shape. A strong CEO, coupled with an eager,
multi-faceted staff, provides a strong base for
this venture.
Back to
* The PSII prescribes to the idea that learning is
a amalgamation of emergent curriculum
(learning which emerges and is unique) and
common curriculum (learning which is
universal). From the PSII website:
* Hopkins believes learning should be learner centred
and rather than subjects organizing learning,
human attributes shape the learning.
* This is displayed in the PSII’s pentagon:
* After attributes,
comes competencies,
which, according to
PSII, is more
important than
individual subjects.
Competencies cover the basic skills needed for students.
This is also the basis for individualized cross – curricular
learning. Competencies allow student to focus on thinking,
leadership, reading, writing, etc. without being bogged
down by oppressive subjects
* After
come goals,
which include
outcomes (PLO)
from the Ministry
of Education.
* PLOs must be met
before course
completion can
be granted for
Dogwood credit.
* PSII has a
view on
which is
addressed in
What are the differences in PSII and regular high school? Or
in other words, what is the pain point of the venture?
In concept, PSII ties right into what the Ministry of
Education seems to be pushing for with its BC
Education Plan:
Project-based learning
Individual learning
Inquiry learning
None of these concepts are original, but in today’s
educational construct they appear to be.
* Therefore, the pain
point is those tired of
traditional education
and all of its
* Ironically, the things
driving parents away
from public schools are
things caused by
chronic underfunding,
not necessarily a
difference of opinion
in the way public
schools are run or the
theology of them.
But PSII concept’s are not
necessarily without fault.
Upon examination, some need
to be examined closer:
• Interdisciplinary – great
concept, hopefully a shift
by regular education.
• Individualized plans – only
would work if class size is
small enough, given the
average of 27-28 per class
in BC, that would be
• Age/grade groupings – PSII
believes in grouping by
interest or activity. The
problem with it is a lack of
potential social interaction,
as part of the reason for
elementary promotion is
social growth.
Classrooms – PSII has only
open space, no classrooms.
This could lead to great
* School start times –
PSII starts at 9:30 am
as research shows
teens learn better
starting at this time.
This shift could be
beneficial, but it must
lead to some issues
given parental
* Mentorship – PSII
organizes mentorships for
students regardless of
age. The problem with
this is that small
communities could not
access this in the same
way, making it fair to
assume PSII is only for
the wealthy in spite of
the rhetoric that the
province should adopt
these ideas.
However, the concept which would require the biggest shift is
the idea of work at your own pace. This element of education
has been debated for years, with both sides claiming victory. It
takes an extremely motivated student to ensure that work at
your own pace works. It doesn’t work for the average student.
* The concepts in their
current delineation
appear revolutionary and
* However, the problems
that could potentially
exist due to the changes
have not been
adequately answered,
especially considering
the top-notch staff.
* The irony of the
marketability of the PSII
is that Hopkins actually
wants to be put out of
business. His goal is to
be so successful that
every school in BC adopts
his principles and his
school is no longer
* Unfortunately, or
fortunately, depending
on perspective, Hopkins’
school will not be out of
work anytime soon.
* The opportunity space
in education is ever
* PSII is in a unique
position. Given its
actual physical size, it
must limit itself to the
number of student it
accepts. The first year
will run with 50
students, so PSII can
run a waitlist, or turn
people away, provided
it keeps itself at its
optimal size.
* In addition, due to its
physical size, PSII only
needs to seek out a
small niche market,
unless it wants to
grow. This is not
something Hopkins has
* PSII, although it only has to attract 50 students is
both blessed and cursed by its geographic location.
* It resides in Victoria, BC, a city of 80,000 which
increases to 350,000 when including surrounding area.
So it has a large population to draw from.
* However, due to its geographic location, it also
alienates a large majority of the people of British
Columbia. Unless PSII plans to create satellite
campuses, only residents of Victoria will be able to
partake in the school.
* One problem of PSII’s marketability is its exclusion of lower
socio-economic classes, thus eliminating a huge market.
* It charges tuition, alienating the poor.
Its hours would
eliminate bussing except in the cities, eliminating the rural
and the poor. Moreover, the idea of apprenticeships and
market placement would eliminate any rural district.
* In addition, work at your own pace will eliminate all but the
most motivated students, which are usually those who seek
secondary education, the wealthier.
* Everything about the school, although well intended,
highlights the chasm between wealthy and poor.
* The PSII is revolutionary enough to attract
* When first announced, there were many articles in
the Tyee, the Times Colonist, the Sun, and the
Province discussing the school.
* It is different enough, and in line with the BC
Education Plan’s idea of 21st Century Learning to
create a market edge.
* In addition, the number of students who applied
for entrance, combined with the 600 teachers who
applied for 5 jobs demonstrates the market edge
* The PSII is in a suitable geographic location to
attract enough students to maintain its
* Moreover the area is wealthy enough to attract
the clientele needed to maintain a school like
this one. (median income - $78,000,9th in Can.)
* It should be successful due to its proximity to
the ideals and goals within the BC Education
* At over $7,000 a student and $10,500 for international
students, there exists potential for a great investment.
* In BC, most private schools are still partially funded by
the government. Most private schools still receive 50% of
the per pupil ratio as public schools. Over $5,000 per
student from government
* Therefore, the potential exists to make a lot of money on
tuition .
* Market Readiness: The school opened
September 2013. This was after a little less
than a year of planning.
* Hopkins was previously approached by an
Albertan Oilsands company and Pearson
Education to fund his school.
* Aside from tuition, education is a tremendous,
untapped resource. Books, technology,
systems, etc. are all available avenues for
* What is Success? – If success is running a full
school, Hopkins should be fine. If his ultimate
goal is for his program to be adopted provincewide he will not be successful.
* PSII is looking for private investors.
To donate
go here: Donations
Ideally, the first year of the school will
determine a lot of its success.
Return to
* When the four elements of an Educational
Venture Analysis (Team, Concept,
Marketability, and Plan) are considered, a
decision about the feasibility of the venture
can be extrapolated.
* The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry
will be a very successful venture provided it
meets a select number of criteria.
* 1. Keep school small. 50 from a population of 350,000 is very
2. Keep goals tied to Ministry of Education objectives.
3. Ensure students meet requirements for graduation and postsecondary. Nothing will derail this faster than no successful
4. Beware too much private investment. It may lead to a push for
5. Ensure government funding for students.
6. Keep costs low for international students. With most districts
charging $28,000 for international students, the potential exists to
draw the students in and create a niche within a niche.
7. To not look to satellite schools in anywhere except urban areas.
8. Look to outside area for help in difficult to fill areas, such as home
economics, shop, woodwork, art, etc. like they are doing with
physical education.
Dedyna, K. (May 11, 2013). New high school will cater to teens’ interests, lifestyles. Times Colonists.
Retrieved from
Hyslop, K (Oct 15, 2012). Gulf Islands superintendent plans to open his own private school. The Tyee.
Retrieved from
Mason, R. (May 9, 2013). New School in BC Aims to Impact the Education System. Retrieved from:
Mason, R. (Sept. 12, 2013). Opening Week at Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry. Retrieved from:
The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry. Retrieved from:
PSII Trailer. (Aug. 13, 2013). Retrieved from:

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