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Cooperative education

Our cooperative education program is a unique experience that allows students to earn secondary school credits while completing a work placement.  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

Prior to their placements, all cooperative education students must demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge and skills outlined in curriculum expectations related to health, safety and well-being prior to starting their community experience.

Cooperative Education Learning Plan

A Cooperative Education Learning Plan must be developed for each student based on program curriculum expectations. In Cooperative Education Linked to a Related Course (or Courses), student learning is associated in part with selected curriculum expectations from a related course or courses. It is developed by the co-op teacher, in partnership with the employer and student.

Assessment and evaluation

The Cooperative Education teacher evaluates the student’s progress in achieving the curriculum expectations and meeting the requirements of the Cooperative Education Learning Plan. Assessment information is gathered in both the classroom and the community components of the course. Regular monitoring of student progress throughout the community component of the course is achieved through planned collaborative placement site meetings between the co-op teacher, student and supervisor. Monitoring includes observing the student performing workplace duties and formal evaluations with the student’s supervisor. The first monitoring meeting occurs within three weeks of the start of the community component. Subsequently, at least two monitoring meetings take place per month, one of which must be face-to-face or online meeting that allows visual contact. Teachers use professional judgement to determine when it may be necessary to conduct monitoring meetings on a more frequent basis.

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 community/placement experience with the expectations of the cooperative education program and related course where applicable, along with a minimum of two performance appraisals by the placement supervisor.

Integrating student learning

Planned integration activities throughout the course help students make connections between their learning in the classroom component and their learning in the community/placement component of the course. They support students in developing the skills, knowledge and habits of mind required for education and career/life planning.