News

Students with disabilities among those who have lower sense of belonging at school: Ottawa school board survey


Belonging was defined as students who feel personally accepted, respected, included and supported by others.

Article content

Students with a disability, who are Indigenous or gender diverse are less likely to have a strong sense of belonging at school, a survey by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board found.

Advertisement

Article content

Research has shown that a sense of belonging at school is connected to academic outcomes, psychological adjustment, well-being, mental and physical health and identity formation, according to a staff report presented at a meeting Tuesday.

Belonging was defined as students who feel personally accepted, respected, included and supported by others.

Students with a disability, with a few exceptions, reported a low sense of belonging at school, the survey found.

Those with a mental disability, blindness or low vision, addiction, developmental disabilities and speech impairments were among the smallest proportions of students reporting they felt they belong among their peers. For instance, only 20 per cent of kindergarten to Grade 6 students and 16 per cent of students in Grades 7 to 12 with mental health issues reported a strong sense of belonging.

Advertisement

Article content

Parents filled out the survey for students up to Grade 6.

The survey, which was conducted in 2019-20, also found differences depending on the age of the students.

On the question of racial identity, for instance, children in kindergarten to Grade 6 who identified as Latino, Latinx or Latina were most likely to say they had a strong sense of belonging at school, at 63 per cent.

The other groups: Southeast Asian, 62 per cent; Middle Eastern, 61 per cent; other, 60 per cent; South Asian, 59 per cent; East Asian, 57 per cent; Black, 56 per cent; white, 55 per cent; and Indigenous, 48 per cent.

In Grades 7 to 12, students who were South Asian were most likely to say they had a strong sense of belonging at school, at 43 per cent, followed by Middle Eastern (38 per cent); white, East Asian and Black (35 per cent); Latino/Latinx/Latina (31 per cent); Southeast Asian (28 per cent); and Indigenous (26 per cent) students.

Advertisement

Article content

Smaller proportions of students who identified as gender diverse had a strong sense of belonging at school, with only 10 per cent of students who identified as trans boys and 14 per cent of those who were gender fluid reporting that to be the case.

The number of girls who said they had a strong sense of belonging dropped from 61 per cent among kindergarten to Grade 6 students to 33 per cent among older students, the survey found.

The drop among boys was smaller — from 53 per cent among the younger group to 40 per cent among boys in Grades 7 to 12.

Students’ sense of belonging at school tends to decline during adolescence when they are in transition and forming their identity, which was reflected in the survey. Among students in kindergarten to Grade 6, parents reported that 57 per cent felt a strong sense of belonging. That dropped to 36 per cent in Grades 7 to 12.

Advertisement

Article content

Board chair Lynn Scott urged staff to consider the impact of poverty on students’ sense of belonging, such as not always having a lunch, using the school breakfast program and being unable to afford field trips.

The report is one of a series that used data from an identity survey to identify barriers that prevent students from achieving and having a sense of well-being.

A total of 31,985 people completed the survey, which represents 42 per cent of the 75,817 students at the board.

Trustee Lyra Evans asked whether the results were representative of the school population, given the relatively low response rate and the possibility that those who felt they belonged at school might be more likely to fill out the survey.

jmiller@postmedia.com

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.