Innovative upcoming programs are putting the ‘why’ in SHSM
HWDSB is thrilled that the Ministry of Education has approved five new Specialist High Skills Major programs for 2022-2023, including the Board’s first program in French.
Located at Sherwood secondary, which offers French Immersion, students in the Non-profit (Education) SHSM will do their mandatory learning in French, including cooperative education placements. This is considered a provincial area of concern as Ontario has a shortage of French teachers.
“In education, students often ask, ‘Why school?’ said Bill Torrens, Superintendent of Program.
“An SHSM helps a student answer their ‘why’ by focusing their learning in an area of interest that increases their motivation.”
Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSMs) are four-semester, two-year programs for any interested student in grades 11 or 12 who wishes to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements to graduate from secondary school.
Ministry data shows that students in an SHSM earn their credits and high school diploma at a higher rate than those not in an SHSM. At HWDSB, SHSM students in the college pathway have credit achievement rate 7 per cent higher than non-SHSM peers, and for workplace pathway courses the difference is 9 per cent higher.
Specialist High Skills Majors at HWDSB cover 14 sectors, across all secondary schools. But COVID-19 posed some challenges for SHSMs, and other experiential programs at HWDSB. Learning experiences and certification training became difficult, if not impossible, at many sites due to limits on excursions and partners’ access inside school buildings.
The number of HWDSB students in SHSMs dipped to 1,492 in 2020-21 and 1,602 in 2021-22 but is projected to rebound to 1,941 students in 2022-23.
Some creative partnerships arose during the pandemic including a virtual co-op with local software developers, for students in the Information Communication Technology SHSM.
Staff are now preparing to deliver a batch of other new SHSMs approved for 2022-2023, including:
- Ancaster High School (Arts and Culture)
- Ancaster High School (Health and Wellness)
- Nora Francis Henderson Secondary School (Hospitality and Tourism, Tourism focus)
- Waterdown District High School (Non-Profit)
And at Sherwood, French-speaking students in the Non-Profit (Education) SHSM will be majoring in leadership while gaining skills, experiences and certifications through a co-op placement in education.
They will also discover one more way to answer the question, ‘Why school?’
Learn more in the May 17, 2022 Program Committee update on the Secondary Program Strategy and Pathways Programs.