The successful implementation of Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs requires an organizational structure on which school boards and schools can rely, in both the short and the long term. The following section outlines the actions that school boards and schools need to take when implementing an SHSM program for their students.

B1.1 Establishing an SHSM Plan

The development of an SHSM should be guided by a comprehensive plan that addresses all key aspects of the intended program, including the following:

Program planning

  • Selection of the SHSM program to be offered
  • Program delivery model
  • Required partnerships
  • SHSM bundles of credits to be offered

Program implementation

  • School and student timetables
  • Student enrolment
  • Accommodations for students with special needs
  • Tracking and recording of student progress
  • Program marketing
  • Sustaining the SHSM

Program evaluation

  • Measuring and evaluating the SHSM program

Each of the key aspects is detailed in the following sections of this guide. A sample school SHSM Action Plan is also provided in Section C: Resources.

B1.2 Establishing SHSM Advisory Committees

SHSM advisory committees provide important expertise and knowledge about employer and community expectations, and board and ministry priorities, as well as assistance in areas such as program content, resources, implementation strategies, and community outreach initiatives. Advisory committee members may also provide local labour market information and other relevant data. Typically, SHSM advisory committees are established at both the board and school levels, but this may vary in cases where geography is a factor.

The main task of the board advisory committee is to provide advice on the program to help ensure that students will earn an SHSM that stakeholders value. For example, industry members may provide advice about aligning students' classroom experience with current workplace expectations or may suggest a reliable service provider for sector certification and training courses.

The main task of the school advisory committee is to support and facilitate the implementation of the SHSM program and work closely with the school SHSM team.

The SHSM advisory committees established by boards and schools need to encourage the broadest range of participation by committee members. Face-to-face meetings as well as email, teleconference, or other electronic means may be used to reach committee members, where appropriate.

B1.3 Establishing a School SHSM Team

A school SHSM team, typically composed of key school and board staff, will be required during the implementation of the SHSM to oversee all aspects of program delivery, such as enrolment, timetabling, student tracking, and monitoring program success. The school SHSM team works closely with the advisory committee during the SHSM planning process and on an ongoing basis following the launch of the program.

Who should be on advisory committees and school teams?

People who have professional or technical expertise, excellent communication and organizational skills, and a strong sense of commitment may be most effective as members of advisory committees and school teams. The composition of these groups, however, depends largely on local circumstances and needs.

The board advisory committee or the school team may include the following:

  • local employers
  • representatives of colleges and universities
  • members of training centres
  • representatives of community agencies (e.g., cultural centres, business associations, chambers of commerce)
  • regional sector-specific human resource council
  • representatives of youth employment centres
  • representatives of local business education councils
  • union representatives
  • superintendents of education
  • Student Success leaders
  • Student Success teachers
  • members of the school board's programming team (e.g., cooperative education, technological education, and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)
  • representatives of band and Elders' councils
  • school principals
  • teachers of major credit courses and other required credit courses in the SHSM credit bundle
  • cooperative education teachers
  • guidance counsellors
  • designated teachers of dual credit courses
  • students
  • parents and members of the school council
  • board SHSM leads
  • school administrators
  • teachers of other required credit courses

B1.4 Developing a Strategic Plan

A strategic plan helps to ensure the quality of SHSM programs that school boards and schools offer. To be effective, the plan must define the objectives to be achieved, including program planning, implementation, and evaluation. Next, it must clearly describe the activities and the sequence in which they are to be completed. Finally, the plan must identify necessary resources and provide for the allocation and deployment of them to achieve the SHSM's objectives and provide a high-quality program that meets and adapts to the needs of the job market.

Program planning objectives

  • Determine the composition of the advisory committee and the school team.
  • Analyse the local market (e.g., needs, resources, and interests identified by the community) and students' interests.
  • Establish necessary partnerships.

Program implementation objectives

  • Create a meeting schedule for the advisory committee.
  • Develop a long-term plan for implementation based on an analysis of the local market and students' interests.
  • Determine the actions to be taken to ensure the five program components are delivered in accordance with ministry requirements.
  • Identify the sectors to be given priority as well as program offerings and the schools capable of implementing the SHSM programs.

Program evaluation objectives

  • Determine the strategies to be used in evaluating the program to ensure that the SHSM is sustainable and continues to provide high-quality opportunities for students.
  • Develop a plan to measure the program's success and to track students' progress.
  • Develop a communication plan as well as marketing and advertising strategies.

B1.5 Building Supportive Partnerships

Partnerships between school boards and postsecondary institutions, the community, and business and industry sectors are crucial to the sustainability of the SHSM. Boards and schools need to concentrate their efforts on fostering partnerships that build on and strengthen existing community ties. It is strongly recommended that coterminous and neighbouring boards approach the implementation of SHSM programs as a joint venture, in order to maximize student opportunities. Such partnerships provide an effective strategy for working with economic sectors and community partners, and can reduce duplication and provide opportunities for taking advantage of economies of time and resources.

How can you partner effectively with other boards or schools?

Various partnership opportunities exist for boards to consider, ranging from delivering certifications and training courses/programs jointly to sharing students and resources in one SHSM. Areas in which partnership opportunities could be considered include:

  • transportation and facilities costs
  • process for certifications and training (e.g., sharing training providers)
  • professional development of staff
  • cooperative education placements (e.g., sharing databases)
  • experiential learning opportunities (e.g., sharing facilities, staff, resources, transportation)
  • sharing expertise to support delivery of sector-partnered experiences
  • sharing facilities and transportation
  • reach ahead opportunities involving postsecondary institutions and community partners
  • required equipment, maintenance, marketing, and consumables
  • qualified staff (e.g., bringing together students from different schools at a host school to follow major credit courses included in the bundle of required credits for the SHSM)
  • synchronizing school timetables and reporting and transportation schedules
  • board policies and procedures (e.g., field-trip permission forms)
  • liability and health and safety issues
  • development and delivery of CLAs
  • registration of students (e.g., shared registers)

How can you partner effectively with colleges, training centres, and universities?

Strong partnerships with local colleges, training centres, and universities are critical to success in implementing an SHSM. It is advisable for partnering boards to approach colleges, training centres, and universities as a team rather than individually. Factors to be considered in partnerships with postsecondary educational institutions and training centres should include:

  • geographical factors (e.g., location of institutions with programs related to the SHSM)
  • existing agreements, including agreements for providing experiential learning and reach ahead activities, agreements for providing dual credits, and articulation agreements
  • access to School-College-Work Initiative (SCWI) opportunities, including activities, forums, and dual credits
  • capacity of the institution (e.g., availability of classroom seats in postsecondary programs)
  • ability to provide support for students with special education needs.

How can you partner effectively with business, industry, and the community?

Community and sector partners also play an important role in the success of SHSMs. Sector organizations have supported the development of SHSMs and have provided resources and opportunities for certification and training, experiential education, sector-partnered experiences, and cooperative education placements.

Many national, provincial, and regional organizations have offered to inform their local members of opportunities to partner with boards delivering the SHSM in their particular sector. Business education councils (BECs), training centres, and Employment Ontario are key resources for establishing and promoting community/business partnerships.

When identifying strategies to deliver the five required components of an SHSM, boards and schools are encouraged to:

  • connect with the region's Economic Development office and the local BEC or local training board to determine employment trends and opportunities for cooperative education placements in the chosen sector
  • collaborate with a wide range of community partners for the delivery of the SHSM components
  • connect with sector councils and organizations, employer associations, and industry associations to determine how they can assist with the delivery of the certifications and training required for the SHSM
  • partner with the neighbouring or coterminous board to achieve efficiencies and maximize SHSM offerings to students