Objective 8 The school climate survey results indicate improvement in students level of comfort and safety at school.

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1 Objective 8 The school climate survey results indicate improvement in students level of comfort and safety at school. Introduction 1. The purpose of this report is to provide information on, and facilitate a discussion of, how the OCDSB might fulfill Objective 8 of the District s Strategic Plan - improve students comfort and safety in schools. What is our understanding of this objective? 2. This objective is an expression of our commitment to provide a safe and caring learning environment for our students. A positive school climate is one in which individuals are trusted, respected, and involved, where there is collaboration, high academic and behavior expectations, mutual trust, caring and support for all individuals. (Caring and Safe Schools in Ontario Supporting Students with Special Education Needs, Through Progressive Discipline, Kindergarten to Grade12). School climate is all-encompassing and should be addressed in multiple, interrelated ways, from the nature of classroom learning, to opportunities available for student voice and leadership. A positive school climate is one in which the diversity of all learners is acknowledged and celebrated. All students find a place of belonging within the community of the school. Barriers for respect and inclusion are eliminated and all of our students feel safe to be and learn as they are. 3. This objective was developed in alignment with the Ministry directive Bill 13, Section (2.1) on measuring school climate; a directive that includes Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy (6 th focus area) which outlines board accountabilities around school climate and the prevention of discrimination and harassment to ensure that all students, parents and other members of the school community are welcomed and respected. It was established prior to the Strategic Plan Objective 8 Page 1

2 distribution of the Student Survey and the implementation of the Tell Them From Me survey in the OCDSB. Regular use of survey tools is one way to help identify areas of school climate that are in need of improvement. Gaining a better understand of the factors that place students at greater risk is important to knowing which specific strategies are needed to address these areas of need. Consistent use of the monitoring tools will help measure improvement over time. The meeting of this objective will require a coordinated effort within our District and in collaboration with our parents and school partners. Why is this objective important? 4. Students feeling of comfort and safety at school is a critical component of students social emotional well-being. Student well-being factors are integrally linked to student achievement. A study completed in 2009 by the Ontario Ministry of Education acknowledged the interconnectedness between cognitive, social-emotional, as well as physical outcomes for students. Many national and international research studies have explored the holistic notion of student wellbeing and its impact in the school setting. Well-being is the foundation for learning and leads to engaged and productive participation in society. Students who feel secure about being in school will be more likely to stay in school and therefore to complete their secondary learning pathways. When students do not feel safe, there can be serious consequences for their emotional health, development of healthy relationships, physical health, and academic and employment outcomes. How will we measure our success? 5. A first step in moving towards this objective was to develop a strategy for regular school climate surveying which included students, parents and staff. During , the Student Survey was implemented. It measured perceptions of school safety and the learning environment. The first of the thematic research reports, focusing on school climate and bullying, has now been produced through this project. In , the District began implementation of the Tell Them From Me Student Survey. In the spring of 2013, this anonymous survey of school climate was made available system-wide for all students in grades Developed by the Learning Bar, this tool provides an efficient means for school districts to fulfil the mandate of conducting school climate surveys every two years as part of the Strategic Plan Objective 8 Page 2

3 Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13), as well as the opportunity to monitor progress over time. Although results from this survey cannot be directly compared to those from the 2011 Student Survey, the general trends that emerged for the baseline year were similar in nature to those observed through the Student Survey. During the school year, the Tell Them From Me Survey was expanded to collect perceptions of both students and parents with respect to school climate. The survey will close at the end of May and the information collected will provide school and District staff with insight into potential progress that has been made over the baseline year. 6. Inclusive, Safe and Caring Programs (ISCP) has been providing continuous support to schools for the implementation, communication, and review of the survey data. Schools have used the rich information provided by the surveys to guide the development of Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans and to immediately implement measures that keep students safe at school. Examples of these measures include implementing restorative practice circles, character days, and staff/parent/community workshops. 7. A detailed analysis of suspension data can also help us monitor improvement in school climate. An improved school climate should see a decrease in the number of suspensions being issued in general and specifically for reasons such as bullying. Quantitative data through surveys and suspension reports will be cross referenced with the thick or qualitative data gleaned from listening to the voices of students in our schools. There are many avenues for measuring students comfort and safety through conversation and dialogue with students. Some schools have begun to participate in the Student Voice Project and the Students as Researchers project. Students are empowered to ask questions of each other to further their success in their learning environments. The input from students will be used to develop strategies and programs that will make a difference to students in schools. 8. The District Review process has been conducted throughout the OCDSB. The process allows for the holistic observation of the many factors which lead to improved student achievement. Included is an observation of school climate through a series of classroom walk-throughs. After a day spent visiting every classroom of the school, the visitation team obtains a thorough impression of the tone and climate within the school. Feedback is reported to the staff and school administration. Questions for further investigation are left with the school for reflection and for the implementation of strategies for improvement. Although the current format for District Reviews does not allow for yearly comparisons, it opens the door for schools to frame their own opportunities for growth and to self-monitor for improvement. Strategic Plan Objective 8 Page 3

4 What are the challenges and opportunities? 9. The biggest challenge in addressing the school climate in our schools will be to understand and respond to the diversity within the District. Each school possesses unique characteristics based on geography, learner profile, socioeconomic realties or cultural makeup. Understanding and celebrating these differences, while working towards a common goal, will be a worthwhile opportunity. There will be a need to understand which strategies will make a difference for which students. Hearing what is effective, from students own perspectives, will lead to important insights which will direct our work. As we have expanded the Tell Them From Me Survey to include parents, we will need to continue to foster relationships with our community partners, school councils and other parent organizations, to reduce barriers to their participation. We will need to develop the capacity to evaluate the impact of our interventions on improving school climate. Rather than a hopeful implementation of a multitude of well-meaning activities, we will need to be strategic about what we choose to become engaged in to achieve desired outcomes. 10. Staff capacity will need to be developed to recognize, prevent and intervene when bullying occurs. Staff will need to be supported with time, resources and mechanisms to develop meaningful Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans. Our schools will need to adopt an unyielding commitment to the importance of this objective. 11. We will need to make available an appropriate mechanism for students to report anonymously on incidents of bullying when they occur. ISCP is working closely with Communications and Business and Learning Technologies on the development and implementation of an anonymous reporting tool provided by Synervoice. The service will be available to schools during the school year. How are we going to achieve the objective? 12. There are many strategies and supports that help foster an inclusive, safe and caring learning environment. Progressive discipline strategies to address unacceptable and/or unsafe behaviours are used in all schools. In-school interventions, in collaboration with parents, may include but are not limited to: utilization and deployment of in-school resources such as guidance, student success, and special education support, along with other resources unique to the school; Strategic Plan Objective 8 Page 4

5 referral and intervention by school social worker, psychologist/psychological associate, special education resources, coordinated through the principal and the school-based multi-disciplinary teams; referral, on recommendation, to the appropriate specialized resource, including more intensive classroom/intervention support, as required; and referral, through the principal and multi-disciplinary team and with parental consent, to outside educational and therapeutic resources; and, referral by the principal and superintendent of instruction to the Critical Incident Review Committee (CIRC). 13. A number of effective prevention and early intervention approaches have been implemented, which has had a positive impact on improving school climate. System-wide initiatives include the focus on community of character, equity and diversity and bullying prevention. Examples of prevention and early intervention programs include: (a) Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help (WITS): This research and literacy based bullying and violence prevention program was initially piloted in seven OCDSB elementary schools in by ISCP. Presently, the WITS program is in 40 of our elementary schools and will be expanded again for the school year. (b) Roots of Empathy (K - Grade 8): This program has been running in 19 OCDSB schools. New Instructor Training is on-going each school year. Training continues on an ongoing basis as new schools and staff are added. (c) The Fourth R: Training and resource kits have been provided to grade 9 physical education teachers. The Fourth R is a research-supported, curriculumbased violence prevention program. All OCDSB secondary schools have at least one trained physical education teacher and one resource kit in their school. The program is provided in both English and French. Training was provided for 25 grade 8 teachers last year. This year we intend to train two new trainers, as well as more grade 8 and grade 9 teachers. (d) Restorative Practices: ISCP has developed a 2-day training session on the Restorative Practices Approach and Restorative Circles Training. To date, approximately 170 principals, vice-principals and teachers from across both the elementary and secondary school panels have received this internal training. This approach provides daily opportunities to embed the principles and practices of character and inclusion, repairing the harm in approaches to discipline and separating the behaviour from the individual within the classroom and school setting. Training will continue on an as-needed basis. Additional Restorative Practices half day workshops are offered throughout the OCDSB in various capacities upon request. (e) Violence/Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA): This process involves evaluating worrisome and threat making behaviour to prevent school-based violence by Strategic Plan Objective 8 Page 5

6 developing a comprehensive plan for students engaging in this high risk behaviour. To date, over 200 staff have been trained in VTRA-Level 1. (f) Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS): A model for conceptualizing and treating social, emotional and behavioural challenges, collaborative problem solving is based on the premise that children will do well if they can, suggesting misbehaviour is related to a lack of skills rather than a lack of motivation. One hundred and ten staff members have received tier 1 training in , bring the total number of CPS trained staff to Bullying Prevention: ISCP continues to provide bullying prevention training to all OCDSB principals and vice-principals. In , this included: Teens and Technology Presentation by the Ottawa Police in schools and for parents by request; The implementation of a mandatory Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan to be completed annually by each school s Safe Schools Team; and, A one day conference attended by approximately 400 OCDSB Safe Schools Team members that addressed the topics of bullying prevention and intervention, Tell Them From Me data analysis, school plan development and The Whole Schools Approach to improving school climate. 15. Inclusive Education/Cultural Proficiency Workshops: These are provided to OCDSB staff on an on-going basis. 16. Anti-Bullying Brochure: ISCP has developed an anti-bullying brochure to be provided to schools and families on how to identify bullying behaviours and warning signs, and how to respond effectively when bullying behaviours do occur. 17. Student Conferences: In , student conferences (e.g., Rainbow Youth Forum, In Love and In Danger) promoted inclusion and acceptance and violence prevention in support of positive school climates. 18. Behavioural Support: Forty-three elementary classrooms were provided with behavioural consultations and 228 elementary students were referred for individual behavioral support. At the Kindergarten level, 71 students were provided with behavioural support. At the secondary level, 430 students were referred for individual behavioural support and skills training. Another 140 secondary students were estimated to have participated in group interventions (i.e., 14 groups with 8-10 students per group). 19. The Advisory Committee on Equity (ACE): ACE has expanded the District's parent and community engagement initiatives. It is mandated to advise the Board of Trustees on the review, development, implementation, and monitoring of all policies which support the members of the school community and encourage Strategic Plan Objective 8 Page 6

7 student achievement and well-being. In addition, ACE liaises with community stake-holders by actively engaging parents and community partners to help create and sustain a safe and inclusive learning environment. In the school year, the committee has strengthened its process to provide relevant and effective recommendations to help the district fulfill its strategic goals. 20. A Date with Diversity: This annual event, co-founded by ACE, the Human Resources Department, Strategic Diverse Workforce Working Group, Lead the Way, and ISCP, is one of the major diversity initiatives in our strategic plan to expand professional development around diversity, equity and inclusive education. The focus is on how to strengthen the connections between communities and schools in order to foster student success and well-being. To this end, A Date with Diversity provides employees and other attendees with the opportunity to ask colleagues and community guests representing different aspects or dimensions of diversity any questions they may have about their experiences and insights into our ongoing conversation: what are the conditions necessary to foster a more equitable and inclusive culture to support learning, well-being and a sense of belonging for the OCDSB community? What are the policy implications associated with this objective? 21. As part of the work that has been undertaken and changes to legislation as a result of Bill 13, staff has identified the following potential policy implications: (a) Revisions to P.123.SCO Bullying Prevention and Intervention are required to align language and definitions with the changes to The Act. Further revision will be required to include the annual Bullying Intervention and Prevention Plan. (b) Revisions to P.020.SCO Student Suspension and P.026.SCO Student Suspension/Investigation/Possible Expulsion are required to align reasons for suspension and expulsion with changes to The Act. What resources will be required to support these initiatives? 22. Harnessing the capacity of every individual in our organization to model care and respect will be our most important resource contributing to a safe and caring learning environment. Our actions must convey and be aligned with the OCDSB community of character. This starts with the adults in our buildings and extends to our day-to-day interactions with students. 23. Our Inclusive Safe and Caring Programs division is one major area of focus. Currently, this involves a team of dedicated staff who support the system-wide implementation of the tools and programs outlined in the previous section. They also work in classrooms in partnership with teachers to embed concepts of equity and inclusion in daily instruction. Instructional coaches in ISCP also nurture Strategic Plan Objective 8 Page 7

8 community partnerships that help us to better meet the needs of all students. Examples of key community partnerships include: The Ottawa Police Service, PREVNet, Crime Prevention Ottawa, Family Services Ottawa, Ottawa Restorative Justice Network, Rainbow Service Providers Network, The Red Cross, Roots of Empathy, Equity Summit Group and the Spiritual Care Workers Steering Committee. 24. Another area of focus for our District is Equity and Diversity where we have established and nurtured community relationships, which provide us with opportunities to understand how to create optimal learning conditions for the diversity of students and families in our District. 25. The resources required to support the objective will be found within existing budgets or will be identified as part of the annual budget process. Summary 26. This report provides a framework for the understanding of the objective, and outlines the measures that the District will undertake to achieve it. A supplementary memo will be provided after the close of the TTFM survey and the receipt of District-wide results. Comparative data between implementation years will be reviewed. Jennifer Adams Director of Education and Secretary of the Board Olga Grigoriev Superintendent of Instruction Susan McDonald Superintendent of Instruction Strategic Plan Objective 8 Page 8

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