Promoting Well-Being in Ontario's Education System

In 2014, the ministry developed a renewed vision for education with Achieving Excellence that set out to expand what student ‘success’ meant for Ontario students, by focusing on equity, well-being and continued improvements in students’ academic achievement.

By putting each student’s strengths and needs at the centre of all that we do in education and creating a learning experience that helps every student feel hopeful about their future, we hope to realize the vision of Achieving Excellence.

Public Engagement on Well-Being: How we listened

Over the 2016-17 school year, we heard directly from thousands of students, parents, educators, partners, and community members, to learn more about student well-being and how it is being supported in schools.

There were multiple ways to join the engagement, including:

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Regional engagement sessions (1,200 participants)

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Partners in Dialogue Provincial event (960 participants)

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Online engagement portal with survey (~2,000 respondents)

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Engagement kit (55 submissions received)

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Targeted engagement sessions (278 participants)

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Ongoing discussions

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Twitter participation (3,000 Tweets)

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Website (over 25,000 unique views)

How We Listened: Well-Being in Our Schools, Strength in our Society (PDF, 946 KB)

What We Heard

Ontarians have told us that we need to continue to focus and stay committed to student well-being. This means supporting cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and sense of self and spirit so that every student sees themselves reflected in Ontario’s success.

We also heard that achievement, well-being and equity must be closely interwoven in day-to-day teaching, learning and assessment in a way that enables all students to flourish.

We also heard many great examples of school communities coming together to ensure the well-being of students — in school and in the community— are front and centre. We heard clearly about the need to look at well-being together with a student’s whole experience at school, not in isolation. We also heard that the well-being of staff is interconnected to the well-being of students, yet also distinct and important in its own right.

What emerged from the conversations was that learning environments need to support all students to:

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develop positive relationships with peers and with caring adults in the school community

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be connected and feel a sense of belonging at school, and feel like a respected and valued individual and member of the school community

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feel engaged in their learning, so that they take an active interest in school life, and feel that they have the opportunity to voice their feelings and ideas

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feel safe at school both physically and emotionally, in a safe, inclusive, accepting environment

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develop a healthy mind and body and learn the tools to deal with challenging situations, make healthy choices, and to encourage positive mental health

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have a positive sense of self/spirit reflected in their sense of personal identity and self-worth, and an optimistic and hopeful view about life

Read the Executive Summary of What We Heard (PDF, 602 KB)
Read the full report of What We Heard (PDF, 1.6 MB)

Watch the video to learn more about what Ontarians said about how well-being is a part of the student experience.

Additional Reading on Well-Being

Learn more about Ontario’s knowledge network for student well-being, Knowledge Network for Student Well-Being (KNSWB)

Next Steps: Supporting Well-Being for Students, Educators, and Staff

Ontario remains committed to realizing the vision of education outlined in Achieving Excellence and creating the best possible learning experience for all students.

Beginning in September 2017, the government started implementing a multi-year plan to support overall student well-being.

This multi-year plan is focused on supporting students at all levels, including their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, along with their sense of self and spirit.

The next steps of this vision will see the Ministry of Education investing $49 million over three years. The plan to support student achievement, equity and well-being includes:

  • Supporting active transportation initiatives like walking school buses and biking to school programs.
  • Increasing funding for School Mental Health ASSIST by $6 million over the next three years, from the current $1 million.
  • Doubling the bundle of flexible funding provided to school boards to support local well-being programs, to $12 million, starting next school year, for breakfast programs, bullying prevention, recreational activities, and staff professional development.
  • Focusing on increasing the academic achievement and well-being of First Nation, Métis and Inuit students in Ontario through the Indigenous Education Strategy.
  • Investing over $6 million in new and expanded programs to support staff well-being and violence prevention in the classroom.

At the core of Achieving Excellence is a commitment to collaborative, continuous learning among students, families, educators, communities and government. The Ministry of Education continues to work with partners to build a stronger education system that supports all students and creates the best possible teaching and learning experience to help students reach their full potential in school and in life.