Equity and Inclusive Education
Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board is committed to excellence in education and equitable educational outcomes for all students. The board is committed to the elimination of discrimination, as outlined in Ontario’s Ministry of Education Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Equity of opportunity and equity of access to all programs, services and resources are critical to the well-being of those who serve our school system, and to the achievement of successful outcomes by all those whom we serve.
The board is engaged in a dynamic process of building a community free from bias and harassment in a culturally diverse and interdependent world based on the following guiding principles and areas of focus.
Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy
The Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy is designed to support a publicly funded education system that gives all students the opportunity to reach their highest potential.
Principles of equitable and inclusive education
Equitable and inclusive education:
- Is a foundation of excellence, and is a fundamental requirement for educational excellence and high standards of student achievement.
- Meets individual needs by providing conditions and interventions needed to help every student succeed.
- Identifies and eliminates barriers.
- Promotes a sense of belonging which contributes to every student’s sense of well-being.
- Involves the broader community and recognizes that school-community partnerships are an essential component of an equitable and inclusive education system.
- Builds on and enhances previous and existing initiatives.
- Is demonstrated throughout the system.
- Culturally Response and Relevant Practice
This professional learning collaboration presented by the Antiracist Multicultural Education Network of Ontario http://www.ameno.ca focused on capacity around equity and inclusive education through Culturally Responsive and Relevant Practice. 18 elementary and secondary teachers had an opportunity to use a model that starts with Knowing Self and Knowing Students to work towards or deepen their understanding of what it means to be culturally responsive in our classrooms and schools. Through reflective activities, research and curriculum based frameworks, readings and video clips, educators were supported to bring the principles of equity and inclusive education to teaching and learning. The workshop challenged teachers to examine their assumptions, values and beliefs and how privilege and personal bias impacts on the design, delivery and assessment of the Ontario curriculum.
- When we lose the right to be different we lose the privilege to be free –Nelson Mandela
- Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy
In partnership with the Ottawa Regional Equity & Inclusive Education Network, 32 teachers and administrators have been participating with our co-terminus boards in professional learning creating culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy. The interactive sessions provide the framework for teachers and administrators to understand the foundations of Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy within the Canadian context. Together, all participants begin to plan and act to implement equitable change in their schools and classrooms. The Equity continuum: action for critical transformation in schools and classrooms a tool created by the Centre for Urban Schooling/OISE University of Toronto is being explored.
… a lot of educators are unclear of what ‘equity’ means. Also, conversations about equity are difficult, so the Equity Continuum was a nice entry for a lot of teachers – Community based youth organizer, Toronto
Harmony Movement provides interactive diversity and equity education programs that empower and inspire youth, educators and those in the social service sector to develop an equity lens, empathy, respect, and leadership skills as leaders for social change. Harmony Movement encourages critical thinking, courageous conversations and strategy building to address and take action against stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, racism and other forms of oppression.
In partnership with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), this professional learning opportunity was enthusiastically received by over 60 elementary teachers and support staff in the spring of 2014. Given the tremendous feedback from our participating schools, we are pleased to offering this learning opportunity again this spring. Teachers and support staff will explore what teachers and school communities can do to better understand and support children and families living in poverty. The session highlights assumptions and biases surrounding poverty and creates successful educational approaches to engaging children, parents and communities who are experiencing poverty.
- Dr. Fraser Mustard was among the first in Canada to recognize the complex link between children’s mental health and poverty.
In partnership with the Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School Board and numerous community agencies, 50 students from our secondary schools will be participating in the 3rd Annual Poverty Challenge. The Poverty Challenge is a one day event that informs students of the daily issues faced by those in the region who live in poverty. The Poverty Challenge will take place on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at Loyalist College. Students will be introduced to programs in place to assist people in poverty and provide students with the opportunity to design creative solutions to this crucial social problem. Students will be encouraged to become agents of social change in the struggle against poverty.
- Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.” Nelson Mandela
- Student Equity Leadership Forum
30 students from both elementary and secondary schools will be participating in a student equity leadership forum facilitated by Harmony Movement, http://www.harmony.ca, a leading diversity training organization in Ontario. The leadership opportunity is for students who share the goal of creating more equitable and inclusive schools and communities. Using interactive games and activities, as well as examples from popular media, this training program introduces students to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion while developing their abilities to take leadership for social change.
- Privilege is invisible to those who have it – Michael Kimmel, sociologist and gender studied specialist
Pink Shirt Day is an annual event that encourages members of the HPEDSB community to demonstrate our shared belief in the power of celebrating diversity and acceptance through the wearing of a pink shirt. By wearing pink, we also acknowledge and offer support for the ongoing efforts to increase awareness of bullying prevention initiatives, the work of school teams, and the role-modeling provided by all student leaders in our schools.
Pink Shirt Day also connects with our Say One Nice Thing campaign. On Wednesday, April 8, 2015 Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board employees and students will participate in the 7th Annual Pink Shirt Day.
- Ambassadors for Inclusion
Hastings and Prince Edward School Board in partnership with Community Living Prince Edward http://www.clpe.on.ca, offers secondary schools the opportunity to implement the Ambassadors for Inclusion Program. This program originated at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute and is now being expanded across the district. The Train-the-Trainer program develops students as ambassadors promoting an inclusive education experience for students with disabilities. The Ambassadors for Inclusion Program, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation aligns with the Ministry of Education document Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario priority, Ensuring Equity, and the system priority of Promoting Well-Being for Students & Employees. Student voice is integral to this initiative as students consider their school climate and create opportunities for inclusion of all students.
- Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA)/Diversity Clubs
All board employees and students have the right to a safe and healthy school environment. Many secondary schools have established GSA’s within their school community. School Climate and Student Well-Being is available to support schools in the creation of welcoming, safe, supportive and inclusive schools for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community. My GSA Canada’s Safer Schools and Inclusive Education Website http://www.mygsa.ca provides support for the students for their gay-straight alliance or LGBTQ safer space group.