New Westminster Secondary School’s Grade 12 students feel a stronger sense of belonging and safety at school than they did a couple of years ago.
Those are among the results of a student learning survey conducted by the New Westminster school district in the 2019/20 school year. School trustees got a sampling of some of the results during a presentation on student learning outcomes at their education committee meeting Feb. 9.
Asked, “Is school a place you feel you belong?” 55% of Grade 12 students answered with “many times” or “all of the time” – a huge jump from the 35% result in 2017/18, and higher than the B.C.-wide number, at 48%.
The number of Grade 12 students who reported feeling safe (emotionally and physically) at school, often or always, also rose from 67% in 2017/18 to 75% in 2019/20. That’s slightly below the B.C. result, of 78%.
Another question asked students: How many adults do you think care about you at school?
Among Grade 12s, 76% reported two adults or more, up from 69% in 2017/18. The 2019/20 result was on par with the provincial number, 77%.
Maureen McRae-Stanger, the district’s director of instruction, learning and innovation, noted that more Grade 12s report connections with adults than Grade 10 students do – among Grade 10s, only 67% reported two or more adults who cared about them.
“We do see an improvement for our Grade 12s last year. I think the Grade 12 year is a very different year for our students where there maybe are more connections as they prepare for graduation and career pathways, but (there’s) more work to be done for us in this area,” she said.
STUDENT RESPECT LEVELS RISING
Another substantial jump came among students who reported feeling welcome at school. In 2017/18, only 48% of Grade 12 students responded with “many times” or “all of the time.” In 2019/20, that number had risen to 64%, just above the provincial mark of 63%.
Another good-news number came in answer to the question: At school, do you respect people who are different from you?
Among Grade 12s, 89% replied with “many times” or “all of the time,” up from 85% in 2017/18.
“It really speaks to our work around inclusion and equity and diversity and SOGI and all of those great things we’re working on,” McRae-Stanger said. “The majority of our students really do feel that they are respecting people who might be different than they are.”
Trustee Maya Russell lauded the positive changes in NWSS results.
“Across a number of measures, where we are seeing some real improvement is at the high school,” she said. “I would really like to celebrate those improvements. … We have something to learn, I think, from how the high school as a community has been able to raise those measures.”'
This story is one part of a special School Snapshot report.