Promoting Well-Being in Ontario's Education System

This document was published under a previous government and is available for archival and research purposes.

Engagement Paper

Well-Being in Our Schools, Strength in Our Society
Deepening Our Understanding of Well-Being in Ontario Schools and How to Support it, in Kindergarten to Grade 12

Promoting and Supporting Student Well-Being in Ontario:

Children and students who have strong relationships and a positive sense of self are in a better position to reach their full potential. As we continue to strive for excellence in our education system, we know it is essential to support all of our students to have a positive sense of well-being – the sense of self, identity, and belonging in the world that will help them to learn, grow and thrive.

If our goal in Ontario is for all of our students to become active members of their communities, able to bring about positive change and to flourish in society, we must heighten our focus on well-being as a crucial prerequisite for long-term success.

Our Goal for Community Engagement on Well-Being

The Ministry of Education is looking to develop a shared vision of how we can best support the well-being of all students, in collaboration with parents, students, educators and administrators, counsellors, social workers, and community partners across the province.

Work is happening every day in local school communities to promote and support the well-being of students. At the same time, we also know that there are significant challenges and more work is necessary to support the well-being of all Ontario learners. The Ministry of Education wants to learn from, and build on the successful work underway, as we collectively move forward on our shared goal of promoting student well-being.

By drawing on the knowledge of those who have done important work over many years to foster well-being among our students, we will strive to establish a common understanding of what promoting well-being means in schools, identify challenges and opportunities for improving supports for well-being and consider how we will know our impact on well-being to best guide our future efforts.

With your feedback and with contributions from partner ministries, we will develop an approach to promoting and supporting student well-being for K-12, that will reflect our shared commitments and the positive outcomes we want for all our students.

Feedback on Student Well-Being

In the fall/winter of 2016-2017, we collected feedback about student well-being through our online portal and in-person engagement sessions. The public engagement process has ended. Thank you to everyone who participated.

  1. Online feedback
    The engagement portal closed on March 19, 2017.
  2. In-person Engagement Sessions
    Although there are no further public discussions planned, we invite you to continue having these important conversations about well-being as you make your own plans to support and promote well-being locally. This could be part of a regularly scheduled series of meetings, or a specific meeting to discuss well-being. The Engagement Kit can be used to help facilitate and organize your discussions.

The Engagement Kit can be used to facilitate productive discussions about well-being in your community.

Well-Being in Ontario: Video

Watch the video to learn more about Ontario’s well-being strategy for education.

Ontario’s Well-Being Strategy for Education

Promoting well-being is one of the four interconnected goals of Achieving Excellence, Ontario’s renewed vision for education. This goal is based on the principle that our education system needs to help students build the knowledge and skills associated with well-being so that they can become healthy, active and engaged citizens. Ontario is committed to building on and deepening the solid foundation that has been created in early years centres, classrooms, schools and communities across the province, and this requires the ongoing commitment and collaboration of all our partners in education.

Promoting well-being is not only part of our renewed vision for education. It is also something that collectively we have been working on for many years. Across Ontario, current well-being initiatives are already underway in schools.

There are four key areas that help promote student well-being:

What is Well-Being?

The nature of well-being is complex and means different things to different people. Well-being can be understood to be a positive sense of self, spirit and belonging that is felt when our cognitive, emotional, social and physical needs are being met. It is supported through equity and respect for our diverse identities and strengths.

Well-being in early years and school settings is about helping children and students become resilient, so that they can make positive and healthy choices to support learning and achievement both now and in the future.

What makes up Well-Being?image

Well-being can be seen as having four interconnected elements that are critical to student development, with self/spirit at the centre.

Promoting student well-being is about fostering learning environments that encompass these elements:

Cognitive: The development of abilities and skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and the ability to be flexible and innovative.

Emotional: This involves learning about experiencing emotions, and understanding how to recognize, manage, and cope with them.

Social: The development of self-awareness, including the sense of belonging, collaboration, relationships with others, and communication skills.

Physical: The development of the body, impacted by physical activity, sleep patterns, healthy eating, and healthy life choices.

The concept of self/spirit has different meanings for different people, and can include cultural heritage, language, community, religion or a broader spirituality.

Our collective commitment to improve Well-Being

Our work to promote well-being is meant to provide an understanding of current and ongoing well-being in Ontario’s education system. Through the engagement opportunities, we hope to identify conditions that promote well-being, and a plan to improve well-being across the publicly funded education system. Our goal is that all students will develop enhanced mental and physical health, a positive sense of self and belonging, and the skills to make positive choices. We are also working to ensure that children, educators and all staff will feel that their well-being is supported.

Next Steps

In the fall/winter of 2016-17, we worked with community and education partners, including school boards, students and parents to better understand what student well-being looks like, what is needed to support it and how we can understand our impact. We will continue to work together as we analyze the feedback we received and determine the next steps for supporting student well-being. All children deserve the best possible start in life, and the right to be supported as they learn and grow, and educators and staff who are motivated and enthusiastic about their work are an essential part of promoting student well-being and achievement, as well as their own. We look forward to our ongoing work with our partners as we strive to achieve excellence, ensure equity, promote well-being and enhance public confidence in our education system.

We have a collective responsibility to create healthy learning and work environments that contribute to life-long learning. Together, our work continues towards building a shared understanding and sharing ideas about what works.

Additional Reading:

Learn more about the discussion document, Ontario’s Well-Being Strategy for Education: Promoting Well-Being in Ontario’s Education System:

Learn more about Ontario’s renewed vision at