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Fraser Heights Secondary shortlisted for national award

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Fraser Heights Secondary has made it to the final 15 of a national award celebrating school and classroom innovation.

The Canadian Education Association will profile the winning Ken Spencer Award for Innovation entries nationally in Education Canada Magazine and videos to encourage peer-to-peer learning. There are also seven cash awards – $7,000, $3,000, and five of $1,000 – that will be awarded to those schools judged to be leading the way at innovating in engaging students and supporting staff to do likewise.

Although Fraser Heights students have delivered strong academic performances, which see the majority go on to some form of post-secondary education, the school has identified areas where it could improve their abilities.

These include questioning, problem solving, critical thinking, developing ideas and translating learning into real world situations.

At the core of Fraser Heights’ new approach to achieving this is a focus on inquiry-based learning, which encourages students to run their own learning projects investigating particular questions, issues or scenarios.

The school secured a BC Ministry of Education research grant as an Innovative School and began devising and implementing initiatives which are shifting assessment practice, instructional activities and student engagement.

The innovation culture this fostered in staff became the foundation for the Surrey School District Innovative Learning Design Grant. Through this grant, the school has designed, piloted and implemented 10 innovative new programs, including:

• Inquiry 8/9 – Grade 8 and 9 students can drive and create their own curriculum. As a mark of success, the school expects this program to be over-subscribed this year.

• Innovation Week – Students in Grades 8-10 are challenged to create a passion-driven project to present at a showcase day. They are not marked and are expected to learn for the sake of learning. More than 700 students participated, enjoying the break from traditional instruction and learning materials.

• Staff Leadership and Learning – This began with “meet and eat” sessions with experts and evolved into teachers experimenting in the classroom and sharing what they have learned with colleagues, showing that staff are taking ownership of the school’s educational direction.

Fraser Heights is documenting its journey on its blog and is keen to share with others schools looking to think differently. To sustain the new approach, the secondary has worked with its elementary schools to highlight its Inquiry program and invites their students to visit the Innovation Week showcase.

The school’s submission to the award noted “we have transformed education at Fraser Heights Secondary and we are leading the way in transforming student learning and educational practice."

If the school wins the award, it hopes to create a “maker space and design studio” to act as a hub for creating ideas, modelling them and making them a reality.

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