The Following Their Voices initiative is a priority in the Education Sector Strategic Plan. The Education Sector Strategic Plan was developed by the education sector consisting of First Nation directors of education, provincial directors of education, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Education. Following Their Voices is designed to improve First Nations, Métis and Inuit student outcomes by engaging and supporting students through changes in student-teacher relationships and interactions, teacher instructional practices and the learning environment. It is an initiative specific to Saskatchewan students, based on research gathered from First Nations and Métis students and families, teachers and school administrators about what works well in order to be successful as a Métis or First Nation student in school.
Field testing for Following Their Voices started in February 2015 in five provincial schools and one First Nation school and ran until June 30, 2015. The key purpose was to test and seek input from teachers on the Following Their Voices professional learning and development tools and resources that were developed for use by teachers in the schools participating in the initiative.
Following Their Voices implementation began in September 2015 (at the start of the 2015-16 school year) in the following 17 schools:
Each school participating in Following Their Voices has a Strategic Change Leadership Team who are responsible for school-based implementation of the initiative. The Strategic Change Leadership Team, comprised of the school principal, a lead teacher and a school-based facilitator, are trained by a provincial team of Following Their Voices facilitators at provincial professional learning and development sessions. The Strategic Change Leadership Team in turn, provides professional learning and development to the school cohort teachers. The school-based facilitators in each of the Following Their Voices schools then work with the school cohort teacher to:
First Nations and Métis Elders provided guidance during the development of the Following Their Voices initiative. Their continued advice and support throughout implementation is critical to the success of the initiative.
For the 2015-16 school year, only 41.9 per cent of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students graduated on time (within three years of starting Grade 10). The percentage, of Métis, First Nations and Inuit students that graduated within five years of starting Grade 10 was slightly higher at 59.6 per cent.
By June 2020, the Government of Saskatchewan’s goal is to lead the country in graduation rates and to reduce the graduation disparity between First Nations and Métis students and their non-Indigenous peers by 50 per cent. For more detail refer to the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth.
Success will be measured by increased student attendance, credits attained, classroom marks and graduation rates. Focusing on relationships and interactions, instructional practices and the classroom environment will result in increased Inuit, Métis and First Nations educational achievement and higher graduation rates.
While graduation rates may not be expected to improve immediately, graduation rates will be impacted within the next three to five years.
Following Their Voices is targeted to high school students; however, because the grade levels in schools across the province vary, elementary teachers and students may participate in the initiative if they are associated with a high school.
When Following Their Voices is able to expand to additional schools, an expression of interest call is sent to provincial school divisions and First Nations education organizations. The call is usually sent out in the spring. School selection criteria is included as part of the expression of interest call.
If a school is interested in implementing the Following Their Voices initiative, the school principal should contact their school division/First Nations education organization office. The time for a school to formally indicate their interest in implementing Following Their Voices is when the expression of interest is sent out to their school division/First Nations education organization. If you are interested in receiving updates on the application process, we invite you to visit How to Join.