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Ontario Introduces New Math Curriculum for Elementary Students

The Ontario government released the province’s new elementary math curriculum to better prepare students for work in a rapidly changing world, strengthen math competence and improve grades. The curriculum was developed over two years in consultation with parents, math educators, academics and math education experts, and is designed to reverse a decade of declining math scores. It will be available to students across the province beginning in September 2020.

Details were released today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

The new math curriculum for Grades 1-8 will:

  • Build understanding of the value and use of money through mandatory financial literacy concepts;
  • For the first time, teach coding or computer programming skills starting in Grade 1 to improve problem solving and fluency with technology, to prepare students for jobs of the future;
  • Use relevant, current, and practical examples so students can connect math to everyday life;
  • Put a focus on fundamental math concepts and skills, such as learning and recalling number facts.

“For over a decade, too many students were lacking everyday math, financial literacy, and numeracy skills,” said Minister Lecce. “The new curriculum will help students solve everyday math problems, enshrine financial literacy in the early grades, and better prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow by ensuring every student learns how to code.”

The Ministry of Education is also changing how it makes curriculum available to better reflect how Ontarians consume information. The new math curriculum will be the first uploaded to the new Curriculum and Resources website, a digital space where anyone can access curriculum and learning resources. This platform will help parents, students, and teachers see connections between learning in different grades and subjects.

Mental Health Initiatives for Ontario Students

nitiative 1

Mental Health Workers in Secondary Schools ($25 million)

The province will continue to provide $25 million in ongoing funding for approximately 180 mental health workers (FTEs) in secondary schools. This investment means a permanent commitment of regulated mental health professionals (e.g., social workers, psychologists and psychotherapists) with specialized training in student mental health in secondary schools, providing mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention to students and their families.

Recipients: 70 school boards

Initiative 2

Response to COVID-19 Outbreak ($10 million)

To support the school re-entry plan in the fall, school boards will be provided with $10 million in new funding to hire additional mental health professionals and to provide direct professional learning for school leadership, mental health professionals and educators to ensure they are equipped to help all students be ready to learn during this transition back to school.

Recipients: All school boards

Initiative 3

Mental Health Leaders ($10 million)

The province will continue to provide approximately $10 million to support mental health leaders to work with school and school board administrators, educators, mental health professionals and community partners to create a more integrated and responsive child and youth mental health and addictions system.

Recipients: All school boards

Initiative 4

School Mental Health Ontario (SMH-ON) ($6.5 million annually for three years – total of $19.5 million).

School Mental Health Ontario works with school boards to enhance the quality and consistency of mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention programming in Ontario schools through the use of evidence-based strategies and services. SMH-ON provides:

  • leadership and guidance about best practices in school mental health
  • implementation coaching
  • tailored, co-created resources
  • mental health literacy for educators and school/system leaders
  • training for school mental health professionals
  • mental health awareness for parents/families
  • a platform for student voice and leadership in school mental health

Recipient: School Mental Health Ontario

Initiative 5 

Mental Health and Well-Being ($3 million).

The funds shall be used to meet local needs to support and promote mental health and well-being, including student mental health and mental health training for educators and school staff. The components of the funding contribute to goal(s) from the school board’s and authority’s:

·       annual improvement plan

·       multi-year strategic plan

·       three-year Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, and/or annual Action Plan for Mental Health.

Recipients: All school boards

Initiative 6 

School-Based Mentoring (SBM) programs ($1.5 million)

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC) is being provided with funding for SBM programs for 2019-20 as part of the Priorities and Partnerships Fund (PPF) dedicated to Mental Health and Well-Being. As per the agreement, Big Brother Big Sister agencies in Ontario will deliver SBM programs in cooperation with schools and school boards.

The guidance, support and mentorship provided by their Big Brothers or Big Sisters is a valuable tool in reducing the risks faced by vulnerable children and youth that can contribute to mental health issues.

Recipient: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

Initiative 7

Kids Help Phone: Bullying Prevention Counselling ($1 million)

Kids Help Phone provides 24/7/365 professional counselling services for children, teens and young adults across Canada with Ontario being the largest user of its services. Kids Help Phone supports the mental health of children and youth by providing services across multiple channels, including text, phone, live chats, and information about how to access local services in English and French.

Recipient: Kids Help Phone

Initiative 8

Roots of Empathy & Seeds of Empathy Programs ($1 million)

This funding supports Roots of Empathy programs in elementary school classrooms, Seeds of Empathy programs in early childhood centres, and outreach to under-served communities, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. Roots of Empathy programs develop social and emotional competence, self-regulation, and executive function – fundamental abilities that foster resilience, well-being and positive mental health.

Recipient: Roots of Empathy

Initiative 9

WE Schools Programming (WE Charity) ($250,000)

WE Schools is a year-long education program that aims to nurture empathy and compassion in students and increase student outcomes in academic engagement, workplace readiness, and citizenship by engaging students and teachers in local and global actions through classroom and after-school curriculum and resources. The WE Schools Program supports positive mental health by providing resources to help educate young people about making a difference in local communities. Student engagement and participation bring attention to empathy and compassion as well as social justice issues like hunger, poverty, bullying, and education for girls.

Recipient: WE Charity

Initiative 10

Cyberbullying Prevention Skills Development for School Leaders ($245,000)

Cyberbullying is linked to depression and mental health issues in children and youth. The aim of the project is to implement strategies that will assist principals and vice-principals across the province in responding to cyberviolence and cyberbullying in schools and on social media.  A project leadership team, consisting of a chair, four project leads representing each principal association and Victim Services Toronto, will collaborate for the design, development, implementation, and assessment of all deliverables. 

Recipients: Principal Association Projects Service Partners with Ontario Principals’ Council

Initiative 11

Preventing Sexual Exploitation Project ($120,000)

Victims of sexual exploitation come from all demographic backgrounds in Ontario. However, youth struggling with low self-esteem, bullying, discrimination, poverty, social isolation, abuse, family issues, and mental health and addiction issues are more likely to be targeted.

White Ribbon will work with stakeholders across the education sector as well as with community partners to develop an online resource to prevent sexual exploitation, promote digital citizenship and the responsible use of technology, and foster healthy relationships, with an emphasis on reaching rural and remote communities.

Recipient: White Ribbon

Initiative 12

Summer 2020 Mental Health Staffing and Professional Learning Supports ($8 million)

This funding of $8 million will allow school boards to provide continuing mental health supports to students over the summer months. This will provide continuity of care for students with mental health concerns and facilitate the transition back to school.

Recipient: All school boards

Initiative 13

Summer 2020 Transition Programs for Students with Special Education Needs and Mental Health Concerns ($7.6M)

This funding will allow school boards to provide two-week summer transition programs for students with special education needs and/or mental health needs prior to their return to school in September. It will help students to re-establish routines and familiarity with the school environment once emergency measures are lifted, as well as support gap closing in skills development and learning.

Recipient: All school boards