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- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

1 in 3 students feel they have no voice in decisions made at their school.
That was one of the more concerning findings in the report on the 2017 Ontario Student, Parent, and Educator Survey (OSPES).

The report was released this week by the Ontario Student Trustees' Association (OSTA-AECO) - the largest student stakeholder group stats1in Ontario, representing 2 million students in public and Catholic schools across the province. In its media release, the Association says, "These results serve as  a holistic assessment of Ontario's education system from the perspective of its three most important stakeholders."

Ryan Brown, a student trustee for the Bluewater District School Board, explained the work of OSTA and the importance of the survey during an interview at Owen Sound District Secondary School (OSDSS).The fifth of its kind, the survey was done entirely online in the spring of 2016, and 4233 students from 69 Ontario school boards – English, French, Catholic and public – took part, as did 508 parents and 295 educators.

The ten survey questions were proposed by students from across the province, responding to "recurrent issues in the education system" and the results are intended to be used to inform policy decisions to meet the current and future needs of students.

This year's survey indicates a need for improvements in the financial literacy curriculum, and a substantial number of students felt stats2their education in the various levels of government was insufficient. Mental health resources were considered inadequate by a significant majority of all stakeholders, and here the problem was bigger for those who identified as minorities. The full report is available here.

"There are evident discrepancies between the vision behind government policy and the reality of a student’s educational experience," said OSTA-AECO President Dasha Metropolitansky, "Student voice is often reduced to a buzzword, however the ability of young people to shape their future should never be used for rhetorical flourish. From financial literacy to mental health resources, we must ensure that the student perspective is not only heard, but is acted upon."

Ryan Brown was chosen to be a senator for OSDSS, and then elected by his fellow student senators to be one of two student trustees on the Bluewater District School Board.  His fellow Bluewater trustee, Branden Wheeler, is on the OSTA Executive Council.

Incoming student trustees elected in April are invited to the OSTA spring general meeting, one of three held during the year, to be brought up to speed on the issues and be ready to hit the ground running in September. The Association meets with education partners including the Minister of Education and Ministry officials to ensure that the voice of students is clearly heard where decisions affecting their school experience are made.


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