Our schools are changing. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) has been engaged for more than a year in one of the largest reviews of student accommodation in Ontario history. We are embarking on an ambitious revitalization of where and how our students learn.
Our program strategy will ensure that all students will achieve because they have access to engaging programs and learning environments that honour their interests and needs. This is about rethinking what we offer, where we offer it and how we can help all students achieve their full potential.
The strategy is still evolving. We want all options to remain open for students in every corner of the city – we don’t want students ‘streamed’ according to where they live. Creating diverse learning environments is key to student success. In this way, we are providing effective classroom instruction for all students, supports and programs that some students need, and specific supports for a smaller number of students.
For example, we organize our schools into three clusters (North, West and South). Equity is a key feature of our program strategy, so we are determined that all schools will provide effective instruction and engaging programs. Some programs may not be offered at every school. Determining where programs will be placed, what boundaries need to be adjusted and how transportation will be provided will take place in the fall, with community involvement.
We are working hard to remove barriers where they exist, whether this is through revised transportation protocols, relocating programs, expanding programs to new sites, online learning or other means.
Of course, final locations for programs will relate to the implementation of the outcomes of the accommodation reviews. Much care and consideration has been taken to ensure that the program strategy provides equitable access to all programs and pathways.
All schools will offer specializations. All schools will offer opportunities for students to pursue any post-secondary pathway (apprenticeship, college, community, university or work). Appropriate supports will be in place for all students who require them.
We are listening to our community and forming transition committees to ensure that our students adjust to their new schools. All students must feel safe and comfortable at school.
At the end of the day, I believe that we share common ground with so many people across Hamilton. We care deeply about the education we provide to our students. We want to do the right thing when it comes to the programs we offer, the facilities we operate and our responsibilities as a public institution.
We believe that where a student lives should not determine the quality of education they receive. We believe that examining our facilities and our programs will help all of our students reach their full potential.