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Board Meetings

February 20, 2007

Supporting Student Success
Conversations with the Director


Between November 13th, 2006 and January 12th, 2007 the Director visited all the secondary schools in Bluewater to hold structured conversations with a small group of students.  The plan for these visits was developed in consultation with the System Administrative Team and secondary school principals. (Appendix “A”)

Five questions were developed and shared with principals in advance.  The questions were designed to inform five key areas of the Director’s portfolio:

•     Human Rights
•     Anti-Bullying
•     Character Education
•     Wellness
•     Parent Involvement

Each school was asked to identify four to five students based on the following criteria:
•     One student from each identified pathway; work, apprenticeship, college and university
•     Student trustee/senator (can represent one pathway)
•     Student council president (can represent one pathway)

Through discussion with secondary school principals, it was determined that the questions would not be shared in advance with the students.  In some cases, questions were shared and in at least one case the teacher had gone over the questions in advance and discussed possible responses.  These different approaches did not appear to impact on the quality of the input received from the students.

The conversations, which lasted between one and two hours, provided mature and insightful information in each of the identified categories.  It was evident that the students appreciated the opportunity to provide answers to the questions and had no difficulty providing answers to each question.  They were respectful of one another’s perspectives and listened well to one another.

At the beginning of each conversation, the Director outlined the reason for the visit and the ground rules for the time together.  She shared some personal stories about her school experience and her family dynamics.  Students were made aware that no names of staff or students could be used in responding to the questions.

Within a week of the visit, the Director provided a copy of the answers provided by the students to each student who had given an e-mail address.  A copy of the summary was also provided to each principal who was to share it with the student success leadership team.  Individual school information was intended for the students and staff and was not shared amongst schools.

Appendix “B” provides an overview of key observations and effective practice and is intended as an executive summary of the extensive input provided by students.

A summary of the key points from each of the school visits was compiled for sharing with all secondary school principals to provide more detailed information about effective practice and to continue the dialogue about practices that most support student success.  (Appendix “C”)

This report builds on the work of Bruce Ferguson in the “Early School Leavers” report and provides additional insights from Bluewater Schools relation to many of the themes he identified. (Appendix “D”)

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