The province said it is taking the next step in its Accepting Schools Action Plan to make schools safer, more inclusive and accepting places for all students to learn, according to a news release.
The new Accepting Schools Expert Panel will bring together experts to identify and advise on the development of resources and practices that promote a positive school climate, equity and inclusive education, as well as bullying prevention and early intervention.
The Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13) was passed June 5.
Other elements of the action plan include bringing mental health support workers into schools - as part of Ontario's 10-year mental health and addictions strategy - including telepsychiatry; having Ontario's Curriculum Council report back on integrating equity and inclusive education principles and bullying prevention strategies across the curriculum; creating a public awareness campaign to promote the role that all Ontarians have in preventing bullying, and renewed support for Kids Help Phone.
“We all have a role to play to make every student in Ontario feel safe, included and accepted at school,” Lauren Broten, Minister of Education, said. “I want to thank the members of our expert panel for their dedication and commitment to help the ministry undertake this important work. Their advice will help bring about the change needed to make all of our schools accepting and safe schools.”
Mary Gordon, co-chair of the panel and founder and president of Roots of Empathy, added: “We know that children can change the world. I am looking forward to working with this group of talented experts and hearing from individuals and groups who want to ensure our schools are safe, inclusive and accepting so that all children are freed up to learn.”
The Accepting Schools Act will come into effect in the fall.
Since 2004, the province has invested $297 million in strategies that support safe, inclusive and accepting schools. A 2009 study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health revealed that 29 per cent of Ontario students - or nearly one in three children - reported being bullied at school
Posted by Arron Pickard