January 11, 2016

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier:

It continues to be an honour to serve as Ontario’s Minister of Education. Over the last year, my top priority has been to work with our partners to implement Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the progress we have made on the four goals of our vision: 

Achieving Excellence

  • Proceeded to implement the Child Care and Early Years Act, which was proclaimed on August 31, 2015, to create a more responsive, high-quality and accessible child care and early years system.
  • Increased the number of licensed child care spaces by 10 per cent in the last year.
  • Completed the rollout of full-day kindergarten in 2014, reaching approximately 260,000 students each year.
  • Increased the high school graduation rate by one percentage point to 84 per cent and increased student achievement on Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assessments by one percentage point to 72 per cent of Grade 3 and 6 students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard in reading, writing and math.
  • Expanded teacher education to a two-year program that gives teachers more practical experience in the classroom.
  • Began rollout of a three-year, $150 million Technology and Learning Fund to support classrooms of the future.
  • Supported over 6,000 teachers in additional math training.

Ensuring Equity

  • Increased the number of Aboriginal students attending provincially funded schools who have voluntarily self-identified — from 44 per cent of the estimated population in 2012 — to 59 per cent in 2014. This allows the ministry and boards to target resources to help close achievement gaps among First Nation, Métis and Inuit learners.
  • Implemented new innovative programs to support achievement and well-being of children and youth in the care of Children’s Aid Societies.
  • Introduced required transition plans as part of Individual Education Plans to better support students with special needs.
  • Implemented Creating Pathways to Success, the new K–12 career/life planning program, including an online planning tool.
  • Began phased implementation of a new strategy for adult education.
  • Engaged diverse partners to provide teaching resources and learning opportunities (e.g., supporting LGBTQ students, Circle of Caring for Aboriginal communities).

Promoting Well-Being

  • Released an up-to-date, research-based Health and Physical Education curriculum that provides children with the information they need to stay safe in today’s complex and ever-changing world.
  • Ensured every school board designated a Mental Health Leader to lead our strategy to improve supports for mental health.
  • Continued to advance the goal for students to have access to 60 minutes of activity connected to the school day, with close to 200 schools actively participating in the Healthy Schools Certification pilot project in 2015–16.

Enhancing Public Confidence

  • Introduced Experience Ontario, a new program to help students make the transition between secondary and postsecondary education and training.
  • Approved $1.43 billion in capital projects, including 82 new schools, 65 additions, 27 renovations and 2,900 new child care spaces in schools since 2013.
  • Committed $1.25 billion over three years beginning in 2014–15 to address the boards’ highest priority renewal needs.
  • Funded more than 2,200 projects during the 2015–16 school year through grants to increase parent engagement in their children’s learning.
  • Conducted the sixth annual Parent Involvement Committee Symposium to support and enhance parent leadership at school boards and schools.
  • Launched 45 experiential learning pilots to provide learners with engaging, hands-on, practical learning opportunities.
  • Supported the Premier’s Community Hub Framework Advisory Group, release of the Strategic Framework and Action Plan, and implementing the education-specific recommendations.

Our accomplishments are the result of strong partnerships, and I am excited to continue our work to improve Ontario’s publicly funded education.

Together, we are building Ontario up, creating new opportunities and championing a secure future for people across our great province.

Sincerely,

Liz Sandals signature

Liz Sandals
Minister

Results achieved

Mandate Letter Commitment Progress
Your top priority will be implementing Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario. This plan will take public education in Ontario from great to excellent by continually improving learning, so that young people have the talent and skills they need — and are prepared to lead in the global economy.
  • We are working with our education sector partners to achieve the four goals outlined in our renewed vision, "Achieving Excellence."
  • This includes taking action based on the evidence in collaboration with our partners. Our collective efforts are building a high-performing system with engaged educators and supportive staff who are committed to continuous learning.
Ontario's publicly funded education system is acknowledged as one of the best in the world. I ask that you build on this solid foundation and continue to progress toward a responsive, high-quality and accessible system that is integrated from early learning and child care through to adult education.
  • We are strengthening and building more integration to collaborate with external partners and with our partner ministries.
  • We remain steadfastly committed to ensuring that children and their parents have the opportunity to benefit from the continued integration of child care, early learning and the education system.
By 2025, Ontario will have an education system that seamlessly integrates services from early years to adulthood. Ontario will be a world leader in higher-order skills — such as critical thinking and problem solving — which will allow Ontario to thrive in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.
  • Ontario is working with provinces across Canada to identify pan-Canadian 21st century competencies.
  • Many district school boards are moving ahead to define 21st century competencies and embed these in their visions and strategic plans. This will help inform provincial policy going forward.
Building on the successful implementation of full-day kindergarten, which will be fully implemented this year. As outlined below, you will continue to work with school boards, municipalities, First Nations, child care operators and parents to modernize, stabilize and strengthen the child care system and improve oversight.
  • Completed the rollout of full-day kindergarten (FDK) in 2014 — reaching approximately 260,000 students annually.
  • Since 2011–12, the government has increased First Nations child care funding from $17.7 million to $26.5 million in 2015–16.
  • The Child Care and Early Years Act was proclaimed on August 31, 2015, to replace the Day Nurseries Act (DNA), to increase access and oversight in Ontario's child care sector.
Overseeing the implementation of legislative and regulatory changes through the Child Care Modernization Act, 2014, if passed.
  • The Child Care and Early Years Act was proclaimed on August 31, 2015. The government is developing the supporting regulations, some of which also came into effect on August 31, 2015.
Creating Best Start Child and Family Centres by integrating and transforming existing family support programs.
  • The Ministry of Education is engaging with early years partners, including parents and caregivers, to ensure a system of responsive, high-quality, accessible and increasingly integrated early years programs and services are available.
Ensuring that children have the opportunity to benefit from the continued integration of child care, early years and the education system.
  • The Child Care and Early Years Act replaces the Day Nurseries Act to provide a new legislative framework to increase access and oversight in Ontario's child care sector.
  • Early research demonstrates that attending full-day kindergarten (FDK) is a strong predictor of academic achievement. Attending FDK is linked to positive report card results in reading, writing, and mathematics in grades 1 and 2.
Working with the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport to develop options to support the implementation of high-quality before- and after- school programming for 6 to 12 year-olds through school boards or a third party.
  • We are continuing ongoing work with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to support before-and-after-school programs.
  • Providing affordable access to school space in high need communities through the Priority Schools Initiative.
Working with our education sector partners to, as detailed below, achieve the four renewed goals for education in Ontario outlined in Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario. This will require taking evidence-based actions informed by broad collaboration. Your plan will result in a high-performing education system with engaged educators, supportive staff, and administrative and other professionals who are committed to continuous learning.
  • Throughout the 2014–15 school year, the ministry offered a number of signature events and consultations to engage our partners and advisors, seek their input and advice, and collaborate on implementing the vision.
  • This ongoing work entails taking evidence-based actions informed by broad collaboration.
Working to ensure that students graduating from high school are ready to meet the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow's economy and society. Children and students of all ages will achieve high levels of academic performance, acquire valuable skills and demonstrate good citizenship.
  • We launched Ontario's Strategy for K–12 International Education, which provides learning opportunities for Ontario students. We are also increasing experiential learning opportunities and identifying mentors to guide students throughout school toward apprenticeship and successful careers.
Supporting educators in learning so they will be recognized as among the best in the world. You will lead efforts to modernize and expand teacher education into a two-year program, starting in September 2015. The modernized program will include mandatory content that will better prepare teachers for the classrooms of today and tomorrow. That content would include topics such as: using technology in the classroom, literacy and numeracy, mental health and addictions, safe schools, First Nation, Métis and Inuit education and special education.
  • As of September 2015, the enhanced two-year teacher education program is better preparing teachers for the classrooms of today and tomorrow.
  • We launched an online curriculum and policy document resource bank to ensure educators across the province have high-quality resources and teaching tools.
  • Monitoring the impact of specialized programs in education (Technology, Aboriginal, French).
Continuing to measure progress toward an 85 per cent five-year high school graduation rate and a 75 per cent success rate on elementary Education Quality and Accountability Office assessments — with a particular focus on mathematics. These results will continue to be reported publicly to ensure transparency and accountability within the education system.
  • We continue to make progress towards our goals of 85 per cent five-year high school graduation rate and to having 75 per cent of Grade 3 and 6 students achieving at or above the provincial standard of a 'B' in reading, writing and math.
  • Currently, 84 per cent of students are graduating in five years, and 72 per cent of elementary students are meeting or exceeding provincial standards in reading, writing and math.
Supporting progress toward the above goals by investing $150 million over three years in technology and learning tools such as new digital tablets, netbooks, cameras, software and professional development for teachers. You will also look at new and innovative ways to increase support that improves student performance in math, science and technology, such as new supports and resources for the classroom. These will include new learning opportunities in mathematics for educators, and supporting access to TVO's Homework Help, which provides students with free, real-time math tutoring by certified Ontario teachers.
  • The $150 million Technology and Learning Fund began its rollout in 2014–15 to support technology, pedagogy and 21st century competencies for the future.
  • Through the Math Action Plan, we launched new math supports and resources.
  • As part of the Science and Innovation Strategy, materials are in development to support students and educators in science and technology.
Inspiring all children and students to reach their full potential, with access to rich learning experiences that begin at birth and continue into adulthood. We are helping students reach their full potential at key points in life with supports, including:
  • A web-based career/life planning tool.
  • Offering Experience Ontario, which helps students move from high school to postsecondary education.
  • Expanding the experiential learning approach (job shadowing, work experience, etc).
Continuing to focus on closing achievement gaps for those groups that are at higher risk of not succeeding in school — including Aboriginal students, children and youth in care, students with special education needs and students new to Canada.
  • Providing funding supports and working with partners and boards to implement a First Nation, Métis and Inuit Policy Framework to continue improving the academic achievement and well-being of Aboriginal students.
  • Launched 44 pilots for children and youth in care.
  • $8.76 million in Grants for Student Needs (GSN) for one Mental Health Leader in each school board, and one to be shared by the four school authorities.
Ensuring equity by supporting students through transition periods that we know pose challenges: when students enter kindergarten; when they make the transition to Grade 1; when they move from elementary to secondary school; when they move from secondary school to postsecondary education or the world of work; and when they move between schools or communities. We know that any time a student makes a transition is a vulnerable time. We are helping them with these key points in life with supports:
  • Transition plans as part of Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
  • A career/life planning resource for K–12.
  • Experience Ontario, which helps students move from high school to postsecondary education.
  • Expanded experiential learning approach (job shadowing, work experience, etc).
Supporting students through transitions unique to each student's circumstances. For example, a youth in care may be transitioning between parents or guardians, and may be changing schools at the same time. Some Aboriginal students may be transitioning from on-reserve schools to the provincial school system. You will recognize these challenging transitions and work collaboratively — both within the education system and with broader public sector partners — to ensure that all students, regardless of circumstances, can be successful and supported.
  • Providing support for board action plans on First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education including strategies for successful transitions of Aboriginal students.
  • Implemented integrated transition planning protocols for young people with developmental disabilities.
  • Providing targeted funding through Learning for All in 2014–15 and 2015–16 with a focus on continuous improvement of IEPs/Transition Plans.
Working with the ministers of Training, Colleges and Universities, and of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade to ensure the adult education system better supports adult learners in their efforts to finish high school, and successfully transition to postsecondary education, training or the work place.
  • Continue to support capacity-building through adult and continuing education hybrid delivery projects, adult and continuing education single parent initiative, educational services in correctional facilities, and resources for recognition of prior learning.
  • Held consultations and launched phased implementation of the Ministry of Education's Adult Education Strategy.
Ensuring that all children and students develop enhanced mental and physical health and a positive sense of self and belonging. Building on your work to promote equitable, inclusive and accepting school climates.
  • Released Foundations for a Healthy School to help contribute to learning environments that promote and support child and student well-being.
  • Supported Ryan's Law, 2015, to help ensure asthma-friendly schools, and provided support to district school boards.
  • $8.76 million in GSN for one Mental Health Leader in each school board, and one to be shared by the four school authorities.
Working with partner ministries to support a long-term goal for children and youth to have access to 60 minutes of activity connected to their school day, and for students to learn from an up-to-date health and physical education curriculum.
  • Released an up-to-date, research-based Health and Physical Education curriculum.
  • Established 28 pilot sites in 2014–15 to increase capacity of schools to address priority health topics. This has expanded to 182 schools in 2015–16.
Ensuring that Ontarians continue to have confidence in a publicly funded education system that helps develop new generations of confident, capable and caring citizens.
  • Funded over 2,200 grants to help parent engagement in children's learning.
  • Conducted sixth annual Parent Involvement Committee symposium to support parent leadership.
  • Launched an online curriculum and policy resource bank for educators.
  • Released resources to help parents participate and understand what will be taught to their children regarding the Health and Physical Education curriculum.
Working with school boards to better prepare students for the workforce by providing Grade 7 to 12 students with access to their own online career planning tool and adjusting the current Grade 10 Careers curriculum. The new tool will help students explore potential careers in a more hands-on way — and support all teachers, including guidance counsellors, to better prepare students for future careers.
  • Implemented Creating Pathways to Success, the education and career/life planning policy, including a web-based individual pathway planning tool.
Working with schools, school boards, guidance counsellors, and business and labour in communities to increase experiential learning opportunities and to identify people who can mentor students throughout school toward apprenticeship and successful careers.
  • Launched 45 experiential learning pilots, providing students with relevant learning opportunities to support student engagement and achievement.
  • Development of the Experiential Learning Framework, K–12 is underway.
  • Expanded Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs. In 2015–16, over 46,000 students will be enrolled in 1,760 SHSMs — representing 2,000 more students and 123 programs over last year.
Complementing the above initiatives by introducing a new Experience Ontario program to support paid community work and service. This program will be led by the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, who will also improve the availability of labour market information to help government, institutions, students, families and employers make important decisions about education, training and hiring. Your goal is to build on the success of existing programs to help students leave secondary school with a clear path for their initial postsecondary destination — be it apprenticeship training, college, Experience Ontario, university or the workplace.
  • Investing $20 million over the next three years in a pilot program, Experience Ontario, that will, in its first year, give 600 recent secondary school graduates an opportunity to gain work experience and identify future education and career plans.
  • Experience Ontario will support paid community work and service, in collaboration with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Continuing to respect the collective bargaining process, as demonstrated by our introduction and passage of the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act. Collective bargaining enhances the ability of responsible employers and bargaining agents to increase productivity, deliver services and ensure fiscal sustainability. Any modest wage increases that may be negotiated must be absorbed by employers within Ontario's existing fiscal plan.
  • We continue to respect the collective bargaining process, as demonstrated by our implementation of the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act.
Providing over the next ten years more than $11 billion in capital grants to school boards to continue building better places to learn and to support school consolidations, including joint use projects.
  • Approved $1.43 billion in capital projects, including 82 new schools, 65 additions, 27 renovations and 2,900 new childcare spaces in schools since 2013.
  • Committed $1.25 billion over three years beginning in 2014–15 to address boards' highest priority renewal needs.
Using some empty school space across the province for community resources — or community hubs — that could be supported by creative partnerships. You will work with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and others to consult with stakeholders and develop a policy that supports the development of community hubs. This policy should consider the amount, location, value and nature of excess space in the education system that could be used for novel purposes. You will also work with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to consider how to improve interactions between school boards and municipalities to ensure effective land-use planning.
  • Released new guidelines in March 2015 for Pupil Accommodation Review, Community Planning and Partnerships.
  • Released guide to encourage community use of school space.
  • Implementing education-specific recommendations of Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan.
  • Alignment with early years initiatives, including developing an approach to Best Start Child and Family Centres.
Updated: June 01, 2021
Published: January 10, 2016