March 2017

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Date: March 22, 2017

Memorandum to: Directors of Education and Secretary-Treasurers of School Authorities

From: Sandra Bickford, Director
Student Success Policy Branch
Student Achievement Division

Lillian Patry, Director (Acting)
French-Language Education Policy and Programs Branch
French-Language, Aboriginal Learning and Research Division

Subject: 2016-17 Outdoor Education Spending Parameters and Reporting Requirements

This memo is to provide details on the spending parameters and reporting requirements for your board's 2016-17 outdoor education funding.

Learning experiences in the outdoors are a valuable tool to encourage students to engage in active and healthy activities. Funding for outdoor education connects to the Ministry's community-connected experiential learning opportunities which provide students with the ability to participate actively in experiences connected to a community outside of school. Outdoor education funding to support student learning activities in the outdoors was communicated in Memorandum B06 that was sent to your board's Director of Education on March 24, 2016.

As outlined in Memorandum B06 which can be found here, effective as of the 2016-17 academic year, outdoor education funding has been transferred into your board's Student Achievement Envelope within the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) Learning Opportunity Grant alongside the following six programs:

  • the Literacy and Math Outside the School Day Allocation
  • the Student Success, Grades 7 to 12 Allocation
  • the Grade 7 and 8 Literacy and Numeracy and Student Success Teachers
  • the School Effectiveness Framework Allocation
  • the Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership (OFIP) Tutoring Allocation
  • the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Allocation

Similar to 2015-16, outdoor education funding is for expenses associated with learning activities in the outdoors that directly connect to student participation. Developing partnerships with community groups is required for 2016-17 to continue to expand connections between boards and not-for profit and community groups.

Any unspent outdoor education funding is to be treated as deferred revenue for future spending in the program. Allowable outdoor education expenses are:

  • fees related to participation in outdoor learning activities provided by school boards or by third party organizations, such as not-for profit or community groups;
  • to enlist the expertise and/or facilities/resources of community agencies in outdoor learning activities;
  • transportation costs; and
  • teacher release time.

In 2016-17, outdoor education funding may not be used for:

  • staffing;
  • administrative costs;
  • costs associated with board outdoor education facilities, e.g., repairs, equipment; and
  • the purchase or development of learning resources.

A review of the 2015-16 reports from boards on how outdoor education funding was spent indicated the following:

  • Over 750,000 students participated in outdoor education activities;
  • Over 924 different community partners across the province were involved comprising 39% of the funding, an increase from the 800 partners involved in 2014-15; and
  • Approximately 70% of activities involved elementary school students, 25% involved secondary school students, and 5% involved students from both levels.

School boards are required to report on all outdoor education funding expended in the 2016-17 academic year. Beginning this year, an online tool, Planning and Reporting for Improving Student Achievement (PRISA), will be used to report on expenditures. The reporting criteria are the same as last year. In addition, boards will be asked to describe the nature of the partnerships formed with not-for profit and community groups, what was learned through the partnerships, what challenges were faced and how your board plans to address these challenges in the future.

Specific details and instructions on accessing and reporting outdoor education expenditures on the PRISA tool will be sent to your board’s outdoor education contact in spring 2017.

Thank you for your continued commitment to student success. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact Alisha Bhanji, Student Success Policy Branch (alisha.bhanji@ontario.ca, 416-326-5984).

Original signed by

Sandra Bickford
Director
Original signed by

Lillian Patry
Director (A)

c: PRISA Board Coordinators
Outdoor Education Leads