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Co-operative education

Our co-operative education program is a unique experience for Grade 11 and 12 students to earn credits towards their high school diploma while working for a local business. The program allows participants to take what they learned in school and apply it to a real-world work environment. Administrators and teachers ensure that the student’s duties and learning experiences at the workplace are closely related to one or more courses that the student is currently enrolled in.

Why co-op is a great option for students

Through the co-op program, students earn credits toward graduation while becoming better equipped to make informed career and education choices in their future. Students also gain confidence in their ability to make the transition from high school to the world of work or post-secondary education. In addition, students will:

  • see the relevance of their classroom learning
  • clarify career goals
  • experience hands-on learning
  • further develop self-awareness, self-confidence and interpersonal skills
  • develop workplace-specific knowledge and skills through guided mentorship
  • build references and networking opportunities
  • determine education and skill requirements for post-secondary career pathways

How employers can offer co-op placements

We are constantly looking for new and challenging work opportunities for our co-op students, where they can gain experience from hands-on activities. Employers benefit from the co-op program in a number of ways:

  • additional support in the workplace
  • training a potential new employee without financial commitment
  • able to mentor and shape the workforce of tomorrow
  • WSIB fees are paid for by the Ministry of Education
  • continued communication and support from the cooperative education teacher

Co-op application and evaluation process

Pre-course interview

An initial interview is conducted by administrators to determine that the student is ready to be a learner in the workplace and that the placement relates in some way to courses the student has, is, or will be taking. The interview also identifies any potential barriers to success and attempts to put any appropriate supports in place.

Establishing the placement

Placements for students are arranged by the school and must meet a number of requirements. A placement must be assessed by a teacher before a student is assigned to it, in order to ensure the placement is a positive and safe learning environment and workplace. Generally, cooperative education students should not be paid for their placements. However, in certain situations, programs, or placements, school boards may permit students to receive payment. All placements must also have Workplace Safety and Insurance coverage through the Ministry of Education or the workplace.

Pre-placement instruction

A minimum of 15 hours of instruction must be provided to the student on workplace health and safety, employment laws, unions, workplace ethics, human rights, and confidentiality.

Personalized Placement Learning Plan (PPLP)

A PPLP must be developed for each student based on expectations from the related course, co-op requirements and industry-specific requirements. It is developed by the co-op teacher, in partnership with the employer and student.

Assessment and evaluation

A qualified teacher evaluates the student’s progress in achieving the curriculum expectations and meeting the requirements of the PPLP through regular workplace monitoring meetings (a minimum of three per credit). Monitoring includes observing the student performing workplace duties and formal evaluations with the student’s supervisor.

Students are also assessed through written assignments, seminar presentations, reflective journals, and career portfolios. In addition, they must complete a culminating activity that links the student’s placement experience with the expectations of their related course, along with a minimum of two performance appraisals written by the placement supervisor.

In-school integration sessions

In-school sessions of at least seven hours per credit provide students with opportunities to analyze and share their workplace experience, relate the placement experience to the curriculum expectations, and reinforce the job-skills theory acquired in the classroom and the skills, techniques, and principles learned and applied at the placement.

School & classroom co-op placement examples

  • information interviews (e.g., students interview school staff or a relative about a curriculum topic such as ‘eating habits’ for Health and Physical Education)
  • authentic tasks (e.g., students write a story for the school newspaper, assist at a school store, plant a school garden)
  • simulations (instructional scenarios where students interact in a ‘real-world’ context defined by the teacher such as life in an early French Canadian settlement)
  • guest speakers/panels on a curriculum or program related topic (e.g., transition to high school, secondary school programs, career talks, health and safety – summer jobs)
  • community service project (e.g., food drive for local charity)

Differentiated Instruction Resource (2007), Ontario Ministry of Education

Community & workplace co-op placement examples

  • field trips (e.g., to a local museum as part of a history unit; may include information interviews)
  • job shadowing (students accompany an adult to a workplace to observe for a half or whole day)
  • site tours (e.g., students, with the teacher, explore a curriculum or program related topic by visiting a local business, industry, landmark)
  • visits to local secondary schools to develop awareness of programs
  • community service projects (e.g., hosting a bingo at a seniors’ centre)

Other forms of experiential learning in the community and workplace include: Career Exploration Activities, Job Shadowing, Job Twinning or Work Experience/Virtual Work Experience

Differentiated Instruction Resource (2007), Ontario Ministry of Education