School Growth Plan
PHSS is a small rural high school on the north end of the Sechelt Peninsula on the Sunshine Coast. Historically the First Nations settlement of kalpilin, within the traditional, unceded lands of the shíshálh Peoples, Pender Harbour is a unique community, which traditionally was resource based – fishing and logging. With a shift in the economic base, the resulting demographic changes has led to a declining student population. PHSS also serves a community with a cross-section of families socio-economically.
We have been faced with small cohorts of students, which has made it challenging to offer a broad-based educational program. Recently, we implemented a new school structure and timetable based on Thomas Haney Secondary’s and AL Fortune’s Flexible Education Model. What we like about the Flex Ed and Self-Directed model is that we are able to structure the delivery of the courses with student learning at the forefront. We are able to offer a wider variety of courses within the timetable, structured so that there is more time for teachers and students to work individually or in groups with teacher support, with the amount of time that the students need and not what the class schedule requires. There is flexibility in terms of the number of “Seminar” classes students take, while we set the number of face-to-face classes at 2 to 3 per week depending on the class. We have also shortened the length of the classes to one-hour blocks and integrated courses into “Humanities” and “STEM” and provided double blocks for our junior grades. We have also added Exploration blocks: which are elective courses driven by student interest and inquiry (i.e. Indigenous Carving, Makerspace Cohort, Stress Busting Techniques, Cooking with Pressure and the Solar Power Cohort.) This year marks the implementation of results from our Learning Community Needs Assessment at PHSS. Our partner groups created the vision for PHSS moving forward. Students, staff, and parents, have taken part in a Values Assessment/Reflection. This reflection was guided by the questions: What values should guide our school program? What values would you like to be at the core of PHSS for you as a student/staff member/parent?
The results of this assessment and the District’s new Strategic Plan make up the foundation and lens through which our school guidelines and policies are shaped.
The Values that guide our practice are PHSS CARES :
We also try to ensure our students maintain a high level of physical activity via our full year intra-mural program along with our extra-curricular programs. Our entire school participates in the annual Terry Fox Run, Move for Health Day and the annual PHSS Sports Day. Each term has at least one Exploration block that promotes an active lifestyle (Basketball Academy, Floor Hockey, and Hip-Hop Dancing, are three examples this year).
We are well supported by community members who volunteer in various ways, including: coaching sports, running our hot lunch program, assisting in boat building for the annual April Tools Boat Race, and leading our Exploration blocks. These experiences help create and keep the connection to a very supportive community.
Our student population includes 33% students with Indigenous ancestry. We are working to increase cultural awareness at PHSS by Indigenizing Curriculum through multiage, cross curricular, class and school wide projects and field experiences.
- Indigenous Student Success: 100% of our Indigenous students graduated in 2019.
- All grads (13) completed ENG at PHSS and wrote their provincial exams.
- 60% of grads pursued WEX.
- All students were able to take full programs on site – no need for D/L.
- 90% of Grade 10-12 students are taking more than eight courses.
- 32 Students with a Ministry designation. This makes up 40% of the student body that may require extra supports and interventions in place
- 84% of Grade 7 students are reading at or beyond grade level – 2018 FSA
With our high percentage (40%) of students with designations, we need to address how we can best meet the needs of all students. This led us into changing the model of delivery in Special Education at PHSS. We have moved from a “pull out” model to a tiered response model (RTI). We are in our third year of implementation. We are seeing many more students who have suffered trauma and abuse and are shifting both our practice (Trauma Informed Schools) and the make up of our learning environments. We are in the process of creating more spaces to help our students with SEL and Self-regulation. This is being done by adding more support staff and more Tier 2 (small group) and Tier 3 (intensive one on one support) spaces. We are also seeing more students in the community struggling to have their basic needs met and are relying on the school to feed them. We understand that if a student’s basic needs are not being met, it will be difficult to focus on learning.
We are engaging with community partners to help address the many mental health challenges students are struggling with. In addition, the move to the Flex Ed model allows students to take more courses based on interest, thus promoting a lifelong learner environment. This is evident in that 90% of senior students take more than the prescribed courses for graduation.