The Ministry of Education has awarded $1.3 million to the Offord Centre for Child Studies and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School board to lead a knowledge network to improve student well-being and achievement at school.
In working with established researchers and professionals in a range of fields, the four-year collaborative, provincewide initiative will connect front-line educators to the most up-to-date research about student well-being.
The knowledge network will also promote evidence-based practices, such as high-quality professional learning, local leadership, and promoting implementation of social and emotional learning, to support student success in their classrooms.
"It's very exciting," said Kathy Georgiades, project lead and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster University.
"Educators have so many demands. We will look at what is manageable and how to promote student well-being without over-burdening educators."
Ellen Lipman is a professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences and director of the Offord Centre for Child Studies, which is a joint research institute of McMaster University and the McMaster Children's Hospital. She said: "This is a wonderful opportunity to move our research into practice. It builds on strong partnerships we have built with Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board over the past few years."
The work will align with the four areas of focus in the ministry's Well-Being Strategy, which include positive mental health, healthy schools, safe and accepting schools, and equity and inclusive education.
The goal is to understand and address the different aspects of student well-being, for example diet and nutrition, environmental conditions and others, and how they interrelate, affecting everything from school performance to future adaptation in a fast-paced and interconnected society.
"We care about the student as a whole person," said Mitzie Hunter, Ontario's minister of education.
"That is why together we are using our collective experience and knowledge on student well-being to build a resource for educators. The resource will give Ontario educators access to a knowledge network that promotes total student wellness – cognitive, social, physical and emotional."