"Students voice creates engagement between students and their school district, allowing for a meaningful discussion about the education system"
Students are the future of our communities. What we are taught will be what we teach others, and ultimately impact the world. As the Student Issues Officer this year, I hope to give a wider platform to those whose voices cannot yet be heard. I wish to provoke deeper thought about our education, and the factors that affect it, by reporting your issues to the VDSC, and work tirelessly to find a solution. Students should advocate for themselves and take control of their learning environments. With the Student Issues Box, which is available to all students within the Vancouver School Board, we can amplify our voices towards a change in our reality. We should feel empowered to constantly voice our opinions and see changes in the decisions that impact our education system.
------ Students Issues Officer, Fiona Chang 2019
How will we pinpoint an issue?
VDSC Executives and Reps will pinpoint issues that students are most concerned with within their school communities. This site will also act as a resource for students to reflect upon their school experience differently upon viewing opinions expressed here by their peers. We are considering every aspect of the school experience, asking students how they feel about course assessment, teaching styles, and student roles in administrative decisions. We will be including student opinions around each of these broad topics as well as specific student concerns that may be specific to one school. If a common issue is prevalent across multiple schools, it will be addressed as the first priority by the VDSC, and will be the VDSC Newsletter.
Common questions and anonymous issues will be answered via the VDSC Newsletter with responses drafted by the student issues officer and student trustee. Issues will be taken into consideration and discussed at our GMs. Questions that include contact info will be responded to via email.
Newsletter Issue II Responses:
Q: How did the VSB decide on the semester system for the 2023-24 school year? What supports are provided for students to succeed in such a fast-paced system?
A: VSB considered input from a multitude of stakeholders to decide on the semester and FIT model for the upcoming school year through discussion groups and online surveys, with special programs, such as IB, keeping a linear schedule. Of the students surveyed, 4344 (67.76%) indicated preference for the semester system while 2067 (32.24%) students preferred linear. Such responses were based on several factors, including which system facilitated relationship-building with peers and teachers. A more detailed summary of the survey results can be accessed in the VSDC Instagram bio. In addition, FIT has been extended to 160 minutes per week, allowing more time for students to seek academic and mental health support from teachers and counsellors. VDSC notes that some students were not aware that FIT and the semester model are two separate votes (for instance, it is possible to have a linear model with FIT). There will likely be another input-session next year; VDSC will work to clarify how students can be heard in that process. See response to Q2 for VDSC’s work on widening access to supports that help students in the upcoming year.
Q: What mental health supports are provided to VSB students? What are some initiatives VDSC is looking into to help students with mental health struggles?
A: VDSC has been working on widening access to counselling resources that support student learning and wellbeing. The council collected feedback from representatives from 16 secondary schools; the student trustee has reported the results of this discussion to the board and district staff responsible for student wellbeing and mental health, who will be following up with each schools’ students’ needs with principals. See the student trustee’s November and January reports for more details regarding this advocacy. Additional mental health support can be accessed through Vancouver Coastal Health, School-Based Teams (SBT), and staff in the Safe and Caring schools’ department. Feel free to contact VDSC for more information regarding such support.
Q: How can students obtain personalised recommendation letters from a counsellor who has not been working with them for a long time? Who should students consult to obtain university and course-planning-related resources?
A: Students can ask teachers or mentors who have formulated deeper connections with them to supplement additional recommendations, although teachers are not obligated to write reference letters. If obtained, such letters are reviewed holistically alongside the counsellor recommendation by admissions committees. Colleges will take the length of which counsellors have worked with their students into account upon assessing the recommendation aspects of submitted applications. Aside from resources from school counsellors, VDSC is hosting a Q&A with past council alumni who are currently in university to provide support for post-secondary planning from students who have experienced the process themselves.
Q: What are some things that can be done to restrict vaping-related activity at VSB schools?
A: VDSC acknowledges that vaping is a district issue that needs to be addressed. Throughout the previous months, The council has begun activism on misuse of universal washrooms regarding vaping and have presented the issue of misuse of universal washrooms to district staff responsible for this issue, who will be continuing our activism from a professional standpoint.
Q: What is being done at a district level to address online bullying and discrimination?
A: VDSC has encouraged and supported multiple platforms specialising in anti-bullying and discrimination. ERASE, a system to report bullying anonymously, had been brought to our attention recently. We encourage students with issues to report to this website. As well, our student issues box was created to address all issues, including bullying and discrimination. With the information we collect from the issues box, the VDSC transfers the information to school administrators who comply with the process of anti-bullying.
To learn more about ERASE, click here.
Q: How can students access educational resources related to marginalized cultures?
A: The VSB has worked hard in collaboration with Indigenous and other marginalised communities to provide a multitude of programs related to culture. The current BC First People’s 12 program is a course available to Grade 11 and 12 students, and provides a comprehensive study of Indigenous history and current events. As well, the Van-Tech community has developed a Black History course running after school hours, at 4pm daily. In addition, the board recently passed a course for Filipino language and culture. As well, courses such as BC first peoples 12 and social justice can be accessed on VLN. To join either of these courses, we recommend speaking with your grade councillor.
Q: HOW DOES ONE JOIN VDSC?
VDSC members are selected / elected by their student councils to represent their respective schools. Each VSB school is able to forward 2-4 reps to sit o the VDSC. Additionally, Junior executive elections occur every September and are open to all students studying under the VSB.
Q: HOW CAN I FIND ANSWERS TO MY ISSUES SUBMISSIONS?
Issues submissions that indicate email will be responded to via the contact information provided. Anonymous submissions will be answered in the Issues section of the VDSC newsletter and posts on the Student Issues Section of the VDSC website.
Observed an Issue?
Please leave us a message and our team will assist you asap!