All school boards in Ontario are required to seek feedback from students using school climate surveys. The Education Act states these should occur at least once every two years. The WRDSB uses the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) as our Safe Caring and Inclusive School (SCIS) survey. The MDI is a voluntary, self-reporting questionnaire. It asks children in Grade 4 through 12 about their thoughts, feelings and experiences in school and in the community.

About the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI)
The MDI uses a strength-based approach to assess five areas of development. They are strongly linked to well-being, health and academic achievement. These areas are:

  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Health and Well-being
  • Connectedness
  • Use of After School Time
  • School Experiences

Learn more about the MDI.

The responses to the MDI are voluntary and anonymous. Only aggregate data is published in order to protect the confidentiality and privacy of students.

2022-2023 Summary of Results

The following results were shared by students in November and December 2022.

For specific board-wide demographic census data, refer to the WRDSB Student Census.

Student Well-being Index

The MDI measures areas that are critical to the children’s development during the middle years. This includes:

  • Physical Health
  • Social and Emotional Development

The areas measured include:

  • Optimism
    • Optimism refers to the mindset of having positive expectations for the future.
    • For example: “I have more good times than bad times.”
  • Happiness
    • Happiness refers to how content or satisfied children are with their lives.
    • For example: “I am happy with my life.”
  • Self-Esteem
    • Self-esteem refers to a person’s sense of self-worth.
    • For example: “A lot of things about me are good.”
  • Absence of Sadness
    • Sadness measures the beginning symptoms of depression.
    • For example: “I feel unhappy a lot of the time.”
  • General Health
    • Children are asked: “In general, how would you describe your health?”

Scores from these five measures are combined to create an overall well-being score. This is known as the MDI Well-Being Index. This assesses three categories of well-being:

  • Thriving,’ (or experiencing ‘High’ well-being):
    • Students who are reporting positive responses on at least 4 of the 5 measures of well-being.
  • ‘Medium to High’ well-being:
    • Students who are reporting neither positive nor negative responses
  • ‘Low’ well-being:
    • Students who are reporting negative responses on at least one measure of well-being.

Promoting Students’ Overall Well-being

Well-being Assets

“Assets are positive, everyday influences and resources that are known to protect children against vulnerability and promote positive well-being during the middle years.”
- MDI Research Brief

There are four key assets that promote a child’s positive development and well-being. They are:

  • Positive adult relationships
  • Peer relationships
  • Nutrition and sleep
  • After-school activities

Data Informed Decision Making and Promoting Students’ Overall Well-being

In the WRDSB’s 2023-24 Board Improvement and Equity Plan (BIEP), two indicators focus on Mental health, well-being and engagement. We are committed to building:

  • Student knowledge and understanding of mental wellness and well-being
  • Staff capacity to support student mental health literacy and enhance student well-being

We understand that student well-being has a direct impact on their ability to be academically successful. The WRDSB engages in multiple strategies in support of students’ mental health and well-being. This includes increasing the capacity of administrators, educators and staff in topic areas such as:

  • Mental health literacy
  • Mentally healthy classrooms

We’re not alone in the work of supporting student well-being. Community engagement supports are available to students, families and caregivers. Together, these provide wraparound support for students within and outside of the classroom. These supports include the:

  • System Navigators
  • Black graduation coaches
  • Social workers with an Indigenous focus
  • Community engagement tables,
  • 21 community partnerships to support student mental health and well-being
  • Free period products in all schools
  • Partnerships in support of student nutrition

We also engaged in a campaign across the WRDSB to address mental health. It continues to de-stigmatize and promote honest and open conversations about mental health and well-being.

WRDSB continues to provide professional learning for administrators and educators. This includes a focus on trauma-informed practices. We know that for students to feel a strong sense of well-being at school, they need to feel:

  • Welcomed
  • Supported
  • Seen

We promote safe and healthy school environments through:

  • Student Affinity Groups
  • GSAs
  • Student well-being teams

We introduced the English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices course across all secondary schools in the 2023-2024 school year. This supports intercultural understanding amongst students. This course provides spaces to highlight the joy, resilience and brilliance of Indigenous communities.

WRDSB also hosts events and activities in support of student well-being. A few examples include:

These efforts support students and families in promoting positive and affirming student well-being.

Supporting and improving student well-being is at the core of our work and lies at the heart of our plans. This includes our:

  • Strategic Plan and Strategic Directions
  • Board Improvement and Equity Plan (BIEP)
  • Math Achievement Action Plan
  • Structured Literacy Multi-Year Plan

Increasing Positive Development and Well-being

We are committed to:

  • Hiring to reflect and support the student population
  • Deepening our understanding of human rights across the organization

With this in mind, WRDSB developed the Sovereignty Affirming & Equity Competencies. It is a comprehensive list of skills and competencies which serve as a goalpost for system leaders and all staff in the organization. As well, WRDSB created a comprehensive definition of the term “lived experience”. This helps shape hiring processes to become more reflective of the student and community demographics.

To strengthen relationships between students and staff, WRDSB is focused on:

  • Building staff capacity
  • Providing professional learning

This aims to foster the creation of school environments that are:

  • Safe
  • Caring
  • Inclusive

In support of this goal, the 2023-2024 BIEP plans to provide job-embedded learning for educators on mentally healthy classrooms.

WRDSB also collaborated with the Ministry of Education through the Equity Secretariat to offer a first-of-its-kind event. Four days of intensive human rights training was offered to:

  • Trustees
  • Senior Team Leaders
  • Union Leaders
  • Professional Association Leaders

Conversations about positive peer-to-peer relationships take place throughout the school year. During Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week, students are reminded about the importance of supporting a school culture that is:

  • Respectful
  • Prioritizes the inclusion of all

WRDSB remains steadfast in our commitment to the safety and well-being of all students. We provide information about bullying and its effects on student learning and well-being to:

  • Students
  • Families and caregivers

We know it’s of critical importance that every student has the food they need to achieve their full potential. If a student is hungry, it can impact their ability to learn. WRDSB supports school nutrition programs with our partners, including:

  • Nutrition for Learning
  • Food4Kids Waterloo Region
  • The May Court Club of Kitchener-Waterloo

These organizations help to remove barriers to accessing healthy and nutritious food. As well, WRDSB is partnering with Smart Waterloo Innovation Labs (SWRIL) to address food insecurity. Led by students, they are:

  • Working with communities to grow food at some school sites
  • Teaching the importance and ethics of food security at earlier grades

WRDSB aims to continue supporting student needs outside of the classroom and school environments. We are accomplishing this through ongoing partnerships with:

  • Families
  • Caregivers
  • Community Members

WRDSB also serves as one of Southwestern Ontario’s largest licensed childcare providers. We support 4,156 children at more than 69 directly operated sites. WRDSB remains committed to strengthening connections through family and community engagement.

Building Capacity and Supporting Student Mental Health and Well-being

As we move forward, we continue to incorporate actions to support increasing student mental health and well-being. The results of our work are reported through the SCIS/MDI survey as part of the WRDSB’s BIEP.

Our strategies include:

  • Building student and family knowledge and understanding of mental wellness and well-being
  • Building staff capacity to support and enhance student well-being

Some of the ways we hope to achieve this include:

  • Developing community engagement tables
    • These include grassroot community organizations to participate in wraparound supports for students
  • Delivering in-class presentations on social-emotional learning and mental health strategies
  • Hosting lunch and learn sessions for families
  • Providing professional learning for educators with a focus on student mental health and well-being
  • Establish student wellness teams at each secondary school
  • Plan and host the annual student wellness conference

WRDSB will also continue to:

  • Support the implementation of school based groups
    • For example: Affinity Groups, GSAs, Student well-being teams
  • Provide outdoor education opportunities for students
  • Host student conferences
    • For example: Black Brilliance

These efforts all contribute to positive mental health and well-being and student engagement.

Committed to Continued Transparency and Accountability

In follow-up to the 2022-2023 Safe, Caring and Inclusive School Survey, WRDSB will be completing a follow-up survey in the spring of the 2023-24 school year.

For more information about the Safe Caring and Inclusive School (SCIS) survey, contact your child’s school.