Student protection in Ontario was enhanced in 2016.
After months of consultation, the Protecting Students Act, 2016, was passed in December. Introduced as Bill 37, the new legislation reflects the College’s work to enhance and improve its disciplinary processes and procedures, stemming from its self-initiated, commissioned review by former Ontario Chief Justice Patrick LeSage.
The changes in legislation help to improve efficiencies and accountability in the investigations and hearings process that protects Ontario students. For example, the Act now gives the Registrar authority to appoint a special investigator to acquire information sooner. As well, it fast-tracks cases to the Discipline Committee where there have been criminal convictions, and defines timelines for school boards to provide information to the College following a complaint.
In 2016, we received 653 complaints, including 273 from members of the public and 67 from College members. Of those, 264 went through a process of investigation and on to public hearings. Thirteen were Fitness to Practise matters. (More information available on the Nature, Origin and Disposition of Complaints here.)
As our accredited faculties of education implemented the enhanced four-semester initial teacher education program, the College worked collaboratively with these institutions. It examined, the program’s impact on areas such as French-language, technological and Aboriginal teacher education, focusing on program durability and sustainability. Going forward, we will explore where practice or policy revisions might be needed. The enhanced program protects Ontario students by helping teacher candidates become knowledgeable educators who are sensitive to the needs of a diverse student population.
The introduction of the Enhanced Teacher Education Program has enabled the College to develop a stronger, sustained relationship with future members. For example, we now reach out to teacher candidates at least twice during the four-semester program. As well as receiving traditional information, teacher candidates learn about College mandate-related topics such as professional conduct and the use of social media, exercising professional judgment using the ethical standards, and the duty to report suspected abuse or neglect of children.
Our advice to the profession takes many forms, however. In addition to issuing professional advisories and presenting to teacher candidates in our faculties of education, we made presentations on numerous Additional Qualification courses during the summer for principals and supervisory officers. These included using interactive case studies to help candidates understand and reflect on the standards of practice, the ethical standards, and the investigations and hearing process.
To inspire public confidence, the College relies on effective communication to create pathways and strengthen connections. To that end, we published information in Punjabi, Tamil, Italian, Spanish and Chinese; used targeted, measurable social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to expand and enrich our links to the community; and shared strategies and best practices with members of our Regulatory Communicators’ Network. As well, we introduced an Applicant Eligibility Assessment tool to help internationally educated teachers determine whether they are likely to meet our requirements for registration.
In October, we conducted a “Just One Word” social media campaign to support UNESCO’s international celebration of World Teachers’ Day. Our campaign asked Ontarians to use a single word to describe their favourite teacher. As a result, we reached 1.8 million people, received 1,428 comments, generated 928 new followers on social media, and had 4,584 new visitors to our website resulting in 6,384 unique page views. One in seven respondents characterized teachers as “inspiring.” The initiative promoted the words most closely associated with the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession — Care, Trust, Respect and Integrity — which are foundational to teacher professionalism and student protection.
The College continued its public awareness presentations initiated in January 2014. These focused dialogues with trustees and Parent Involvement committees have assisted in enhancing awareness of the College and in gathering useful feedback.
Further, the College reached out to the public at various events around the province, including baby shows in London, Ottawa, Toronto and Mississauga, as well as parent and family conferences in Toronto, Brantford, Alliston and Richmond Hill. We also took part in Burlington’s Children’s Festival, Festival franco-ontarien and Ottawa Capital Pride in Ottawa, Telling Tales Festival in Rockton, Ont., Pride Toronto and Word On The Street Toronto. Parents appreciated information about our online resources such as the Find a Teacher registry and the chance to subscribe to The Standard, our e-newsletter. Subscriptions almost quadrupled over the course of the year — 5,347 as of December 31, 2014, to 18,575 as of November 1, 2016.
We also spoke with parents and members at focus groups in Sudbury, Windsor, Ottawa, Kingston, Kitchener and Toronto during July and August. The insights helped to improve College communications products and services.
The launch of two standards-based audiovisual resources and discussion guides, as part of our Acting on our Ethics series, supported the revised Professional Learning Framework for the Teaching Profession. The resources support exploration into the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession and encourage the meaningful inclusion of the Anishinaabe culture and worldview within initial and continuing teacher education.
In May, the College hosted its third Inspiring Public Confidence Conference featuring English and French workshops on critical issues concerning regulators, the public, employers of Ontario Certified Teachers and providers of teacher education. More than 200 people attended. Topics ranged from pan-professional discussions of ethical behaviour and examining fairness in the 21st century to implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee to challenges facing regulatory agencies. The conference featured keynotes from the Honourable Roméo Dallaire, a retired Canadian senator and Canadian Army lieutenant-general, and an outspoken advocate and champion of human rights, as well as Giller Prize-winning author and broadcast journalist Linden MacIntyre. The conference has established the College as a leader in self-regulation and in thought leadership on matters of professional regulation, acting in the public interest, and effective practices and research in teacher education.
Finally, to ensure that the education sector has accurate data upon which it can plan, we released results from our Transition to Teaching survey of teachers newest to the profession. The data signalled a positive upturn in employment opportunities and greater demand for teachers of French, secondary mathematics and science, and technological education.
Recognizing excellence in service
The year saw a transition of Council members through several departures and appointments. Those who concluded their service with us included Terry Price, OCT, in June, Irene Cheung, OCT, and William Ngassam, OCT, in September and Shabnum Budhwani in December.
Pier Olivier Arseneault, OCT, was appointed to replace Irene Cheung. Jacqueline Karsemeyer, OCT, replaced Terry Price and James Knopp replaced Dobi-Dawn Frenette, who left Council in 2015.
In addition, Marie-Louise Chartrand and Robert Gagné were each reappointed to Council for an additional year.
As the teaching profession’s regulator, we have clear priorities to:
- facilitate the ongoing professional learning of members;
- broaden member engagement in the College;
- enhance Council and committee effectiveness; and
- develop a long-term communications plan to inform the public, improve transparency and work with other regulators to develop a public appreciation of the value of self-regulation.
Our work to set the standard for great teaching continues to grow and our efforts blossom.
I am grateful for the leadership of our Council, the dedication of our staff and the generous support of our partners. Our success is the product of their efforts.
Michael Salvatori, OCT
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