Since 2009 the AESN leaders have been supporting the improvement of outcomes for Aboriginal learners and increasing the knowledge and understanding of all learners connected to indigenous ways of knowing through the Network.
The grants available to schools involved in the AESN are an important form of recognition to the school teams that commit to attending meetings, developing a focus for their inquiry, following the spiral of inquiry in deepening their learning, sharing their findings at regional sessions and completing a case study for broader distribution and sharing. Regardless of the size of the grant, research indicates that providing small recognition grants directly to the school is very important in building lasting commitment and in making their work public.
Due to the generous support of the Irving K Barber Centre at UBC, the Vancouver Foundation, and the BC Ministry of Education, the focus of school level inquiries has expanded in 2013-2014 to include an emphasis on transitions for Aboriginal learners and engaging learners in pursuing more personalized and focused inquiries into Aboriginal history, culture and traditions. This is in addition to schools that are connecting their inquiries directly to the goals of the local Enhancement Agreement.
This school year, in addition to the 63 schools that have submitted inquiries connected to the enhancement agreement, another 42 schools are engaged in inquiries focused on improving transitions for Aboriginal learners. For instance, Britannia Secondary in Vancouver is focusing on facilitating positive academic goal setting and achievement for Aboriginal students transitioning from elementary to high school. Bayview Elementary in Delta is exploring how best to support students and families with all the steps and procedures that are necessary to make the transition from high school to post-secondary institutions and the work place.
A natural extension of teachers becoming involved in inquiry is for them to seek ways to provide greater opportunities for their learners to take control of their own learning through disciplined inquiry. To that end, 28 schools are involved in student-level inquiry this year, including Randerson Ridge Elementary in Nanaimo, engaging their learners in exploring the historical elements of Aboriginal civilization and analyzing how present day issues and challenges have evolved over time.
We want to thank everyone involved – funders, students, educators, Network leaders, parents, Elders and more – not only for helping to effect change in the success of Aboriginal students, but as the Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners report points out, in “making important and significant inroads into shifting the thinking of non-Aboriginal leaders and teachers around the province.”