Earl Marriott Secondary 23-24


École Earl Marriott Secondary is a thriving learning community located in South Surrey, BC. First opened in 1973, 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. With the recent opening of a new Secondary School in South Surrey, Earl Marriott now enjoys increased space to learn and grow.

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 a number of co-op experiences for its students through an active Careers department. 

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.  Elders from our community are invited in regularly to share with our students their story, culture and history.

Earl Marriott is one of four French immersion high schools in Surrey and offers academic courses in both French and English. About 30 per cent of students in the school are working towards completion of a full bilingual diploma. Earl Marriott is recognized as one of the oldest French Immersion programs in Western Canada.


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. Our learners come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and they bring with them diverse learning needs and cultural perspectives. Our learners understand that learning requires an exploration of one’s own identity.  Our learners understand that we need to acknowledge everyone’s history and story through a wide cultural and diverse representation in our curriculum and school culture.  Learning is embedded in memory, history and story, and that is inclusive of everyone’s story.

Our staff has been actively engaged in implementing the curricular and core competencies, and developing our skills in universal design for learning. We recognize that to prepare our students for the future we need to embed the priority practices of the First Peoples Principles of Learning in our curriculum and assessment practices. Or learners have engaged in learning that weaves a diverse cultural background and shared story through the curriculum.

Earl Marriott students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and schooling experiences. 23% 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.  5% of Earl Marriott students are given services as English Language Learners (ELL). 16% are special education learners designated with social/emotional, physical/health and/or learning needs; 5% are Aboriginal learners; 30% of students are in the French Immersion program.

Beyond language and citizenship, there are a large percentage of students who identify with a diverse racial, cultural or orientation that is not quantified in our data.  These students also understand the importance of representation in our school and exploration of identity.


Having made great gains in practice and comfort with the new reporting order including the proficiency scale and strength-based descriptive feedback, the school turned to focus this year on amplifying a positive school culture that embraces and celebrates equity, diversity and inclusion. The school community did this acknowledging that it is a long term commitment and plan that will likely be non-linear in progress.  It strongly aligns with the need to improve awareness and understanding of the various cultures and beliefs of our diverse students. To work on this, staff and students did work in three broad areas. First, we invested time in building staff awareness and skills in anti-racism education and culturally responsive pedagogy. We also ramped up various cultural celebrations throughout the year, using the district Equity, Diversity and Belonging calendar to guide us. And, we worked to provide more opportunities for diverse student voices to be centred in our school community. Anecdotal feedback from students, staff and our parent community suggests that these three approaches have had a positive impact on school tone and climate so far.

Staff began this year doing  summer learning in antiracism work. Mr. Nick Brown, Manager in the District Department of Racial Equity. This helped build a foundation of understanding in regards to the daily experiences and racism faced by many of our BIPOC students. Staff reported that this was one of the best professional development opportunities they had been part of in regards to building empathy and awareness for students in their classes. Staff also did professional learning later in the year, focussed on being more culturally responsive in their classroom pedagogy and practice. We were grateful to learn from the expertise of district helping teachers within the District Racial Equity Department. Staff indicated that this learning would help them reframe many of the topics and narratives used in their lessons.

One of the diversity focus areas that showed the most growth this year was in enhancing and broadening student recognition of and learning about various cultural celebrations from our school community. A key player in this work was a strengthened student multicultural club. Important dates from the Sikh, Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Jewish calendar  were recognized, along with vital Indigenous, Black, and Asian cultural events. Several celebrations should be highlighted in this limited space. First was our Vaisakhi celebration in November. EMS had not hosted such a celebration in many years and we were fortunate to this important day for students through food, Song and a dance performance from the Queen Elizabeth Secondary Banghra Team. 

EMS also invests considerable time and effort in working with the Semiahmoo First Nation, on whose lands our school is located, to bring an annual Powwow to our community. This vital event activates our students and staff, and gives an opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of BC First Nations peoples. It was, this year as in years past, part if the work we do towards truth and reconciliation.


Equally vital to our growth in understanding our diversity and building equity has been our efforts to amplify student voices. This year, EMS established a Student Advisory Group. This selection group made up of 15 students from across school programs and grades was created with goal of hearing from a variety of BIPOC voices. Students met monthly to provide feedback to the Principal on issues that were important to them, including school structures and processes, as well as racism and climate. Students appreciated their voices being heard, and staff welcomed their views when shared at staff meetings. BIPOC student voices were also engaged as part of the District Student Voice Series. At this series of events, District staff could get feedback and soundings on District policies and structures related to antiracism from a select group of diverse students from across the south end. Students in turn, brought back new learnings to the EMS Student Council and the Student Advisory Group about what they had learned.    

One of the most powerful new structures that EMS students contributed voices to was the South End Black student Union. EMS sent fifteen black students, accompanied by BIPOC staff members Michael Musherure and Chris Nwandu, to this event hosted by the District Department of Racial Equity. There, EMS students were able to share experiences, brainstorm new opportunities and celebrate black joy with other black students from high schools across the south end. Our students came away feeling like their previously hidden voices had real power. 

The relationship between these efforts and academic learning is loosely coupled. If more students in our EMS school community feel that their culture, beliefs and identity are valued and can contribute, they are more likely to feel comfortable in classes, engage more in learning, and achieve more. Also, if a broad range of students are exposed to a greater variety of values, beliefs and perspectives, they are more likely to consider social issues, academic problems, and creative endeavours from differing viewpoints. This too is likely to make for deeper learning.

Additionally, student core competencies of communication, critical and creative thinking, and personal and social responsibility are likely to be directly improved by efforts in this area.


In the school year to come, EMS must maintain focus on recognizing the diversity in our school community as well as Surrey and White Rock more broadly. This year's efforts to provide education, increase understanding of cultural beliefs and practices, and amplify BIPOC student voices had a positive effect on student culture. 

Next steps:

1.  Antiracism Working Group- this group may serve to learn and inform staff on best practice in regards to addressing interpersonal, structural and institutional racism, as well as explore a more culturally responsive pedagogy. It also may serve as a resource for addressing incidents of harm, and revisioning school structures that may pose a challenge to others. 

2. Continue to Amplify diverse voices in the school- Through the Student Multicultural Committee, Student Advisory Group and other structures, EMS will find more ways to  share a variety of cultural learnings and celebrate diverse student voices. 

3. Continue to focus on ways to seek student feedback around school culture and progress in core competency areas- Structures such as the Student Advisory Group, surveys done through student grade Teams, and student Core Competency reflections. This feedback can help determine if different interventions are working to improve the school culture of learning.

4. Dive in and continue to monitor measurables of success for diverse students- EMS will continue to examine the graduation rate for our Indigenous students as compared to our overall success rate and that of the District. Additionally, the graduation rate for BIPOC students and their engagement in student  co-curricular activities such as leadership, service and academic clubs, and student committee's could provide valuable information on whether efforts to build comfort and amplify voices are working.  

Surrey Schools

Formed in 1906, the Surrey School District currently has the largest student enrolment in British Columbia and is one of the few growing districts in the province. It is governed by a publicly elected board of seven trustees.

The district serves the cities of Surrey and White Rock and the rural area of Barnston Island.

Surrey Schools
14033 - 92 Avenue Surrey,
British Columbia V3V 0B7