Below is a letter from Director of Education John Malloy to all teaching staff at the Toronto District School Board with regards to the re-issued Health and Physical Education curriculum in the Province of Ontario.
As you know, the Government of Ontario has directed all school boards across the province to use the re-issued 2010 Health and Physical Education Curriculum (Grades 1-8). The Ministry of Education has the right to set curriculum for Ontario students and we expect all educators to teach the 2010 Health and Physical Education Curriculum (Grades 1-8). Secondary teachers will continue to teach the 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum.
Educators do, however, have responsibility for the instructional strategies they use to teach the curriculum. I am confident you will continue to deliver the provided curriculum in ways that align with Ministry direction, and create a learning environment for students that is safe, inclusive and focused on their success and well-being.
From the beginning, we have been vocal about our concerns with regards to the inclusion of important topics such as online safety, gender identities, sexual orientation, and consent. Our central staff have been reviewing both the 2010 and 2015 curriculum documents to determine which topics are covered and which are not. While that work is continuing, it is already clear that many important topics remain in the curriculum.
While the wording may be different than the 2015 curriculum, the 2010 curriculum still contains many critically important topics. In some cases, these topics are now covered under “prompts” as opposed to “expectations,” but they remain in the curriculum. As a result, educators will continue to have discussions about diverse families, online safety, consent, etc.
Here are some examples:
• (M)ental health, body image, substance abuse, violence, harassment, child abuse, gender identity, sexual orientation, illness (including HIV/AIDS), and poverty will continue to be discussed within an open, caring, sensitive way and in an atmosphere of mutual respect. (p.30)
• Teachers can also have a decisive influence on students by … taking advantage of “teachable moments” to address immediate relationship issues that may arise among students. (T)he study of healthy relationships, particularly with respect to bullying/harassment and violence prevention, should include a focus on sexist, racist, and homophobic behaviour. (p.56)
• (A)ll students must be made aware of issues of privacy, safety, and responsible use, as well as of the potential for abuse of this technology, particularly when it is used to promote hatred. (p.64)
• (A)pply living skills (e.g., decision –making, assertiveness, and refusal skills) in making informed decisions and analyse the consequences of engaging in sexual activities and using drugs. (p.201)
While many important topics remain, there may be other areas that are no longer reflected in the curriculum. That is why our central staff are currently pulling together resources for teachers at each Grade level as we attempt to take some of the “guess work” out of determining what can be taught and when. We anticipate that these resources will be available for the first week of school.
We will also be providing a similar communication to parents so that they will have an understanding of the teaching and learning requirements under the re-issued 2010 curriculum. It is recommended that parents who have specific concerns with instructional approaches should resolve these through discussion with teachers and principals as per our Parent Concern Protocol. Those with concerns related to the re-issued 2010 Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum will be directed to the Ministry of Education.
In addition to the 2010 curriculum, we will continue to be guided by TDSB policies relating to equity. In our commitment to enhance educational opportunities for all, the TDSB will ensure the inclusion of the perspectives, experiences, rights and needs of historically and currently disenfranchised groups and communities.
Despite some challenging developments over recent days, I want you to know that we trust you and we believe you are doing great things for our students. I want to assure you that we will be providing support for you through the implementation of the curriculum changes.
Director of Education
Toronto District School Board