Foundations for a Healthy School Released
MOE Further Develops its Student Well-Being Approach
December 1, 2014
The Foundations for a Healthy School Resource has just been released by the Ministry of Education. Of particular note, is the Mental Health section, which suggests strategies and activities that include social-emotional learning (under mental health promotion) and resiliency, both of which can be developed using mindfulness.
The MOE’s Foundations for a Healthy School webpage states:
“The Foundations for a Healthy School resource is designed to help contribute to a learning environment that promotes and supports child and student well-being – one of four core goals in Ontario’s renewed vision for education (see below) This goal emphasizes the need to focus not just on academic success but also on the whole child and student – their cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development.”
Mindfulness is an effective way to develop cognitive, emotional and social development.
Well-Being instrumental to academic success
On April 7, 2014, Ontario’s Ministry of Education released “Achieving Excellence – A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario.” There’s plenty of good news!
- Promoting Well-Being is one of the four key goals
- Key “higher-order skills” include critical thinking, communication, innovation, creativity and collaboration (pp. 3, 7), all skills that mindfulness builds
- Enhancing public confidence includes developing “new generations of confident, capable and caring citizens.” (p.3)
- In its conclusion, it says it will build an education system “that recognizes well-being as an instrumental factor in students’ academic success.” It goes on to say: “We can develop compassionate and actively engaged citizens who graduate high school equipped for the technology-driven, globalized world. They will be well-rounded individuals who have not only strong basic skills but also the critical thinking skills, imagination and resilience to excel in – and create – the new jobs of tomorrow.”
To see the report: Click here
To see the Ministry’s web page: Click here
Public consultations took place in the fall of 2013. The Ontario government asked what skills students need to succeed and what student “well-being” mean to you. The answers to these questions will drive education policy for many years to come, including curricula, training and funding. In it’s submission, DM told the government that:
- students need to develop social and emotional intelligence, as well as attentional skills and executive function
- mindfulness is the “how” of social and emotional learning
- student “well-being” includes the whole student, and should include social and emotional well-being and mental wellness
We thank those of you who made your own submission to the Ministry. Even if you didn’t have a chance to do so, it’s not too late to be involved. There will be future opportunities to make our voices heard, and it’s good for all of us to be aware so we can engage others in our schools. You may also want to join Discover Mindfulness’ Advocacy Committee. If so, please check out our Volunteer page.
Discover Mindfulness’ submission
Click here to see Discover Mindfulness’ submission to the Ministry, made November 27, 2013. In our submission, we ask to be included as this process moves forward.
To see the Ministry’s consultation web page “From Great to Excellent: The Next Phase in Ontario’s Education Strategy” click here.
A key question asked was “what does student well-being mean to you?”
The reason this is so important is that in 2009, Bill 177 amended the Education Act to make “student well-being” a goal. But it did not define what “student well-being” means!
There is growing recognition of the need to look at the whole student, not just their grades but their social and emotional well-being. In fact, the latest curriculum revisions now include prefaces stressing the importance of supporting “students’ cognitive, emotional, social and physical development” as well as “their mental health, their resilience, and their overall state of well-being” (Preface of 2013 Ontario Curriculum for Social Studies 1-6, History and Geography 7-8, as well as Social Sciences and Humanities 9-12).
The new curricula go on to say that mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness, but rather well-being, including healthy growth and development. It says that at the centre of human development “is an ‘enduring (yet changing) core’ – a sense of self, or spirit – that connects the different aspects of development and experience” (later in same Prefaces as above).
Ontario’s School-Based Mental Health Initiative
Improving mental health a key initiative of the Ontario government. School Mental Health ASSIST (SMHA) is a part of this initiative and is designed to support school boards with student mental health and well-being. This support is provided via resources, tools, and implementation support.
For more information, please see our Resources & Links page.