Ensuring Equity and Celebrating Diversity

Ensuring equity and celebrating diversity is important at Thames Valley. We believe that every student should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of background, identity or personal circumstances.

In September 2017, Ontario launched its Education Equity Action Plan to serve as the province's blueprint for identifying and eliminating discriminatory practices, systemic barriers and biases from schools and classrooms.

Here are some examples of what we are doing at Thames Valley to ensure we create the best possible experience for staff, educators and students. The result of this work is a positive learning environment where student achievement, well-being and equity is top priority.

School and Classroom Practices

Modelling Everyday Practices for Mental Health and Well-Being

Thames Valley launched a mental health program to model everyday practices for mental health and well-being to students, staff and parents. The program also provided students with age-appropriate information about stress - both its effect on the body and how to notice when one is stressed, by recognizing important body cues. The intent of the program is to increase an individual's resilience and ability to self-regulate and to train teachers how to embed evidence-based practices into their classrooms. During the 2017-2018 school year, 52 schools participated. In addition, the Board ran sessions for various staff groups.

 

First-Ever Elementary Pride Conference
On April 12, 2018 over 250 students from 50+ Elementary schools and many community organizations participated in the first annual TVDSB Pride Elementary Conference. The theme of the conference was "Celebrate You" which empowered students to find their voice, embrace diversity, and promote inclusion through allyship. Thames Valley continues to work hard to ensure an inclusive culture across the entire school district, recognizing that the principles of safety, equity and inclusivity must be echoed in all aspects of school life.
Expanding English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs in Secondary Schools
Thames Valley has expanded course offerings for secondary English Language Learners to increase equity for our English Language Learners. The comprehensive review of programming for secondary newcomer students led to the expansion of sites where English as a Second Language (ESL) courses are offered. Programs are now also offered at Banting, Lucas and Saunders secondary schools in addition to Beal S.S., Montcalm S.S., and Westminster S.S. More students now have access to ESL programming at their designated home secondary school and learn alongside their peers. In addition, staff have supported secondary school newcomer students to be integrated into regular courses while still receiving the ESL support they require. Peer mentoring programs have also been expanded.
Parent Engagement Review

A Parent Engagement Review committee was formed in 2017 to help us gain a better understanding of what parent/family engagement looks like throughout our system.  

A survey was designed to assist us in gaining a better understanding of the level of parent/family involvement and engagement both at school and at home, and areas requiring more attention as we move forward to grow family engagement throughout our system. In total, 1279 surveys were received from parents/families, In addition to the surveys, interviews were conducted with some parent/family groups (ie. newcomers, indigenous families, families facing economic challenges).

The findings were incorporated into the “What School Communities Can Do” sections of the document Family Engagement - Listening, Learning and Leading. This document is a great resource for school communities to use to enhance the work they are currently doing to build parent/family engagement.

The Thames Valley District School Board is committed to working closely with school communities and school leaders to build and share best practices across the district. Future work will include assisting schools in enhancing their family engagement strategies in order to build capacity between schools and families. Our school communities will continue to collect feedback and input in order to help guide the wide variety of support and practices necessary to meet the needs of families and their children.

Leadership, Governance and Human Resources Practices

Learning around the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report

As part of the Thames Valley response to the recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Report, Education Centre employees were invited to participate in five lunch and learn sessions on Indigenous Education. These sessions were available to staff working in a range of portfolios and were extremely well-received. In addition, all grade seven and eight teachers of history participated in the roll-out of the new history curriculum which includes an increased focus on indigenous history. As part of this professional learning, teachers participated in teachings around the effects of intergenerational trauma on individuals and groups.

Faith Leaders Group
Meeting a few times annually with our Religious and Faith Leaders provides an opportunity to learn from each other to support the diverse needs of Thames Valley staff and students.  Collaboratively we have learned ways to support students of diverse faith backgrounds. The meetings provide an opportunity to share and receive feedback on Thames Valley's work with initiatives including Ontario's Education Equity Action Plan, the Board's Strategic Priorities and the recently revised Religious and Creed Based Accommodations Procedure for Students and Staff.
Equity and Inclusive Education Policy and Procedure Review Committee

Thames Valley is committed to ensuring that board policies and procedures align with our Board's strategic priorities and commitment to being inclusive, fair and equitable. Using an equity lens tool, a committee comprised of staff from diverse portfolios meets regularly to review board policies and procedures to ensure policy and procedure language is inclusive, respectful and uses appropriate terminology. Through the review process systemic barriers are addressed and policies and procedures are considered through the lens of diverse populations.

Through the TVDSB Budget Process, Trustees supported the hiring of an Equity and Inclusion Co-ordinator to support more inclusive working and learning environments in our district. Collectively we will seek ways to remove barriers for students, staff and community members, in the service of enhanced student learning.

Data Collection, Integration and Reporting

School Climate Survey

The Ontario Ministry of Education requires all school boards in Ontario to conduct an anonymous survey every two years in order to provide students, families, and school staff with the opportunity to share their opinions related to school climate. In Spring 2018, we invited students in grades five to twelve, school-based staff, and families to complete an online survey about the following topics: engagement (e.g., relationships, participation), school safety (e.g., bullying, substance abuse), and school environment (e.g., teaching and learning, mental health).

Student results have been shared with schools to inform system and school-based practices. Staff and family results will be shared once the analysis is completed. The goal of these plans is to help create a safer and more inclusive learning environment, as well as support mental health and well-being. In addition, summary reports will be shared more widely (e.g., Board website, Ministry of Education, School Councils, community groups).

 

Indigenous Action Plan

Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, Munsee-Delaware Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, the N’Amerind Friendship Centre and local Metis representatives developed a comprehensive Indigenous Action Plan. This plan is aimed at working collectively and collaboratively to improve student achievement, well-being and culturally relevant learning conditions for all Indigenous students in Thames Valley. A series of “Lunch and Learn” sessions for Education Centre staff provided an opportunity to engage in learnings around indigenous issues.

English Language Learner (ELL) Tracking Software 
To support English Language Learners, staff acquired software that will help monitor student’s acquisition of the English Language. Staff have made effective use of the software to measure the student’s academic growth as well as to provide educators with concrete next steps. 

 

 

Learn more about we are doing to ensure Equity and Inclusive Education at Thames Valley.

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