Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?


École Earl Marriott Secondary is a thriving learning community located in South Surrey, BC.   First opened in 1972, Earl Marriott is a hub for academics, athletics, applied skills and performing arts.  As enrolment grew rapidly in South Surrey, Earl Marriott grew in both size and structure.  For several years, the school was organized around two bell schedules to accommodate expansion.  Currently, the staff and students enjoy a single bell schedule, which facilitates better collaboration and involvement in school cultural activities. 
Today, Earl Marriott Secondary maintains a varied program of rigorous academic, fine and performing arts, technology education, special education, athletic and French Immersion programs. Earl Marriott offers four distinct co-op experiences for its students through an active Careers department. Students at Earl Marriott have the option to participate in a science and humanities co-op, as well as a mechanical and trades exploration co-op.

Earl Marriott enjoys a close connection with the Semiahmoo First Nation.  There is a rich history and tradition of collaboration with the First Nations community.  Students from Earl Marriott participate in an Annual Pow Wow and have travelled to Haida Gwaii for cultural sharing. 
Earl Marriott is one of four French immersion high schools in Surrey and offers academic courses in both French and English. About 25 per cent of students in the school are are working towards completion of a full bilingual diploma.  Earl Marriott is recognized as one of the oldest and largest French Immersion programs in Western Canada.
Earl Marriott students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and schooling experiences.  20% of students primary language spoken at home is not English.  There are 34 home languages other than English represented by our students and their families.

3% of Earl Marriott students are given services as English Language Learners (ELL). 12% are special education learners designated with social/emotional, physical/health and/or learning needs; 5% are District International Students; 5% are Aboriginal learners;  22% of students are in the French Immersion program.
Together with academic rigour, extraordinary choice programs, and a growing international and multicultural student population, Earl Marriott is a vibrant school community with an equally talented and committed teaching and support staff.

The Earl Marriott staff has been working together on the redesigned curriculum with a focus on curricular and core competencies for students, moving to a greater understanding of big ideas, and a vision to connect their work with curriculum to the District Priority Practices of curriculum design: quality assessment, instructional strategies, and social and emotional learning.

SCANNING (What do we, as staff and community, know about our students – their successes and challenges?)

• Students feel EMS is a safe and welcoming learning community.  They feel supported by their peers regardless of differences and are inclusive of others.

• EMS students are eager to learn and have high expectations of their achievement across all subjects and grades. 

• Students have the opportunity to participate in athletics, clubs, the intramural program, and extra-curricular activities.

• EMS families place a high value on education and look to the school community to provide opportunities for students to be successful.

• EMS students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and schooling experiences.

• EMS students who participate in extra-curricular activities and athletics feel invested in the school. They have a strong identity with being a Mariner and are having an enriched experience.

• Students at EMS are involved in many activities both in school and outside of school. There are competing demands on their time and commitments.

• EMS students who identify with a particular program or activity feel greater control over their learning. Students may identify uniquely with the program or activity apart from the school community.


Earl Marriott is a welcoming school community where students and staff embrace diversity and support each other.  The students of Earl Marriott are involved in many areas of the school, from academics to extra-curricular.  They seek out new opportunities and challenges, both at school and in the community.  The students have high expectations for their own performance, whether it be academic, athletic or fine arts. With these high expectations comes increased pressure and demands on time.

We know that students who participate in activities within the school feel a greater investment and connection to their learning, and identify as Mariners.  Our students often have part time work outside of school, and many are involved in high level sports or performing arts activities in the community. The commitments they make in their personal lives often compete with the opportunities to participate more fully in school life. 

As a staff, we recognize that our learners have changed from years past and that the challenges they will face in society have changed also.  We acknowledge that our students come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and they bring with them diverse learning needs.   Our staff has been actively engaged in implementing the curricular and core competencies, developing our skills in universal design for learning, and increasing our understanding of the shift from knowing to doing and understanding.  We continuously seek to develop innovative ways to engage our students academically, socially and holistically.




2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?


In recent years, Earl Marriott Secondary ran on an extended day bell schedule.  Our students and staff struggled to build connections and make collaboration a regular part of their school life and work.   Our students became familiar with structures that allowed for open timetables and varied schedules with breaks during the day.  Our new structures provide us with a fresh perspective,  and a vantage point for change.  We are propelled towards building connections and  a strong community of learners.  We are motivated to bring structures and processes to our school life that encourage students to engage in their learning and focus on their studies.  Our staff and students are ready to embrace increased connection to our community and stronger engagement in their learning.

Some of the data we use to support our beliefs in the strengths and needs of our students includes:

Student Learning Surveys

Parent Satisfaction Surveys

Attendance data from 2017/2018

Monthly attendance data from District 

EN 12 and Com 12 exam results from Ministry of Education 

Composition reports for each grade, and services provided for student learners

Counselling and YCW reports of increasing mental health concerns

Composition reports from ELL and International departments

Student Involvement in clubs and sports teams

Teacher qualitative data

Our student voice data, and student self assessments in Core Competencies


School connectedness is defined as the belief by students that adults in the school care about their learning as well as about them as individuals. As we move our school community forward, we hold as an ideal a connected community that brings both positive educational outcomes and positive health outcomes.  We endeavour to be intentional in our design of instructional strategies that promote communication, thinking (critical and creative) and personal and social awareness.

“Student success is fostered when instructional strategies are designed with a recognition that learning is influenced by: social and cultural context, background knowledge and understanding, and individual needs, interests and passions.” Principles for Instructional Strategies, SD36

We acknowledge the importance of engaging students through personalized experiences and interests.  We know that building strong connections with our students will set the conditions for them to take responsibility for their learning and engage in the learning process.

“Students are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors and succeed academically when they feel connected to school…Research has also demonstrated a strong relationship between school connectedness and educational outcomes,  including school attendance; staying in school longer; and higher grades and classroom test scores. In turn, students who do well academically are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2009).


We invited our students on Nov. 23rd, 2017 to share with us how they felt about Earl Marriott as a positive learning environment and as a partner and contributor to their success. We also asked them to tell us what was interfering with their success and how we might move forward to remove those obstacles.

The students were asked to comment on the qualities that contributed to their sense of connectedness, that made a positive learning experience, and that interfered with their success.  The students responded to four specific questions related to their learning:

  • What would you say is the #1 important factor contributing to your feeling of connection at EMS?
  • What are the things at EMS that are interfering with your success?
  • How can you be involved in the process of creating a positive learning environment?
  • What does it mean to be a Mariner?
    Overwhelmingly, the students stated that by getting involved and being a part of a group, students are able to have a positive connected school experience. The students also felt that being given opportunities to act as positive ambassadors for their school contributed to their sense of Mariner Pride.

“When students are encouraged to share their experiences, knowledge, enthusiasm and questions with other students at the school, they feel like they are contributing.  When a student feels respected by their teacher when they ask a question, when they become a peer tutor to be role model for others, or when they lead the musical theatre club to share their love of expression; these opportunities all allow for students to feel like ambassadors and important assets to their school.” Grade 12 student, EMS

COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES (How will we communicate our inquiry and our results to the school community?)
As a school, we have increased our connection to parents through the use of social media.  Currently, we communicate to parents and students through the Mari-Time App, our Twitter account (@earlmarriottsec), and our website.

The Administration regularly reports to the PAC the progress of our school initiatives, and the inquiry process that the staff has undergone to support the new curriculum.  There is strong communication and collaboration between administration and the PAC executive.  

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

School Wide Focus and Inquiry Question:

Through the implementation of school wide practices that intentionally promote attendance, digital citizenship and a respectful learning environment, will our students become more engaged in their learning and better connected to the school?

4. What professional learning do we need?

Members of the Earl Marriott staff have been participating in the following professional development opportunities consistent with our school-wide inquiry question and our engagement with the redesigned curriculum:

August 30th, 2018 – Summer Pro D, all staff:  Universal design for learning, engaging all students
Sept. 25th, 2018 – Admin Day – Policy, Process and Values:  An in depth review of our Code of Conduct.  How does what we say match what we do?  Do our words and our actions speak to our values? Do we communicate and model our values to the students consistently? Do we have the policies and processes in place that will allow our students to feel supported?
Ongoing 2018 -2019 – Focussed conversations on practices that support student engagement in learning:  Staff meetings and Dept Head meetings. October/November – Attendance, December/ January – Respectful Learning Environments, February/March/April – Digital Citizenship, May – Intellectual honesty

Check and Connect training for YCW, CCW, Counsellors

5. What is our plan?

Taking Action: (What will we do differently?)

1. Code of Conduct review and update

In Sept. 2018, the staff of Earl Marriott did an extensive review of the Code of Conduct.  We sorted each item under Policies, Processes and Values.

Policies: the existing document was reviewed to check for currency, and if it required amendments

Processes: Moving policy into action, we discussed how we would implement and communicate the policy at the school, dept. and classroom level.

Values: the staff examined each policy for how it informed our values and our community. How do our policies demonstrate our values and the Mariner Profile?

Each month, a different section of the Code of Conduct is highlighted at a staff meeting and dept. meeting, so that the staff can work together to create processes that support student engagement.

A committee of teachers and admin met to edit and draft the forms used by teachers to communicate and request support in the school

2. Attendance Focus

One of the factors that can increase School Connectedness is a Commitment to Education: Believing that school is important to their future, and perceiving that the adults in school are invested in their education, can get students engaged in their own learning and involved in school activities. The staff at EMS has committed to showing their investment by focusing on attendance: We believe that Attendance reflects a child’s investment in their learning and a motivation to succeed.

How will we do this? (Sept. 2018 – Ongoing)

–       Communicate to students the value of strong attendance.

–       Track attendance in class and keep records.

–       Contact parents quickly with attendance concerns.

–       Counsellors and Admin to track attendance data and meet regularly with students who miss more than 16 classes.

–       Implementation of the Check and Connect program for students at risk

–       Regularly review attendance data at staff meetings

3. Ensuring a Respectful Learning Environment

The school environment, climate and culture can have a positive effect on student perceptions of school and of their connection to school.  At EMS, we value the safety and respect of everyone in the building.  To create a positive climate that respects all individuals in the building, and creates and environment that is safe and inclusive, the staff plans to promote and enforce the policies concerning vaping, appropriate clothing, demonstrating citizenship in the hallways and public areas, keeping the school clean, etc. 

Vaping has become a large concern in our community and society, and EMS is not immune.  Students were expressing that they did not feel safe or comfortable when encountering vaping in the building or in the surrounding environment.  This speaks directly to a Safe and Caring Environment and a Respectful Learning Environment. The staff planned to address this concern specifically.  

How will we do this? (Nov. 2018 – Ongoing)

–       Communication to all staff regarding vaping concern

–       Coordinated communication to students regarding vaping policy and its relation to a Respectful Learning Environment.  We have chosen to focus on the Respectful Learning Environment rather than the health aspect of vaping, as there is currently mixed and inconclusive information regarding the safety of vaping for young people.  What is not arguable is the legality of students vaping on school property and purchasing and possessing vaping devices.

–       Communication to parents through the website and through PAC meetings

–       Sporadic and frequent checking of the school washrooms and change room during class time. 

–       Consistent consequences for vaping on school property:  Students will have devices confiscated and parents will be contacted.  Students may face additional consequences if the behavior has not decreased.

4. Responsible Digital Citizenship

  • The EMS staff reviewed the Personal devices policy and found that it did not need to be changed.
  • Staff analyzed how we use technology in the classroom, where we believe it interferes with learning and engagement.  We value learning in the classroom, and need to create environments that encourage engagement and focus. As a staff, we also believe it is our responsibility to educate students in digital citizenship.
  • Staff value having autonomy in their classroom to how they work with students and their devices. Teachers have the discretion to allow students to use their phones when appropriate, for research or as an educational tool.  Many of our teachers integrate the use of cell phones into their daily lessons to support the learning.  Staff also shared strategies to structure the use of technology and limit personal use when inappropriate.
  • Personal device use, in particular cell phones, were brought forward to the PAC for their thoughts.
  • Communication was sent to parents through the school newsletter regarding our Focus on Digital Citizenship.

5. Intellectual Honesty

Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate

6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)

How will we know we are making a difference?

 When students are meaningfully engaged within their school, courses and with their teachers and peers, we observe student success in both achievement and personal/social responsibility. 

Quantitative success rate data and qualitative anecdotal feedback from students and staff will demonstrate increased levels of attendance and positive school culture, increased academic achievement, extracurricular participation and student and staff satisfaction. 

Specifically, we will be able to track data on student attendance rates, and discipline referrals related to a respectful learning environment, and look at quantitative evidence.

Within each department, specific achievement indicators/evidence related to the school goal will be collected and demonstrate positive differences in students’ conduct, performance and attitude.  each department will be looking at a specific goal related to the overall school goal that is of interest to that department.  Departments will write specific goals using the ‘Boulder, pebble, sand’ (Breakspeare) template.

Evidence to date

Student Learning Survey

Our students in Grades 10 and 12 were questioned on items specifically related to the school goal:

  • Is school a place where you feel like you belong?  In Grade 10, 48% of students said All the time or Most of the time. In Grade 12, 64% said most or all of the time.
  • At your school, how many adults do you feel care about you? (for example, teachers, counsellors, student helpers)  In Grade 10, 75% of students said 2 or more adults. In Grade 12, 65% said 2 or more adults.
  • At school, rules and expectations for behaviour are clear (for example, school rules or codes of conduct). In Grade 10, 54% of students said they strongly agree or agree.  In Grade 12, 65% said they agree or strongly agree.
  • Do you feel your school has a positive climate and culture? In Grade 10, 42% of students said many times or all the time. In Grade 12, 39% said many or all of the time.


7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?