Future of London Ont., Unknown Vocational School – London

Concern over the future of the London Vocational School is growing as enrollment numbers at B. Davison Secondary School have come to a standstill for the past two years.

A Facebook group and an online petition to save the school say the Thames Valley District School Board plans to close the school because there are no Year 9 and Year 10 students.

“For the past two years, TVDSB has actively thwarted Davison by not allowing educators to promote the programming the school has to offer, refusing to allow parents to enroll their children, and closing programs at school,” the group’s organizers said. to save the school said in a statement.

“When parents called to enroll their students, parents reported that they had been told there was a ‘lack of interest’ and that ‘programming at Davison would not be offered’ for those entering ninth grade in the past two years.”

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The petition set up by the organizers collected more than 470 signatures on Tuesday afternoon.

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B. Davison Secondary School at 785 Trafalgar Street was established in 2014 after the merger of the former Sir George Ross and Thames Secondary Schools.

One of the only vocational schools in the region, it offers students programs and supports to enter the job market directly after graduation. The school focuses on trades and offers courses in hospitality, welding, construction, auto mechanics, horticulture and cosmetology.

A statement from Jeff Pratt, associate director of TVDSB, denies the board is considering closing the school.

The TVDSB has confirmed that in the past two years no new pupils have been admitted, but attributes this to a drop in enrolment, a point that parents who have tried to enroll their pupils will dispute.

Parent-of-two Michelle Grech tells Global News it was a struggle to get her son Liam into school. He didn’t start until the middle of the 10th grade.

“He immediately felt like he belonged because everyone there might not have the same learning disabilities or disabilities, but everyone was in the same boat,” Grech said.

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Michelle Grech’s son, Liam, in his first year of school at B. Davison High School in London, Ontario.

Provided by Michelle Grech

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She says her two sons have learning disabilities and struggled in the mainstream education system with large class sizes, but that all changed for her eldest son, who graduated in 2021.

“He felt safe in his learning environment, which he never had, and that helped him want to graduate and do his best.”

Pratt says the review of TVDSB’s high school attendance zone will begin in the 2022-2023 school year and the public will have an opportunity to provide input.

“Thames Valley’s Rethinking Secondary Learning initiative has helped to maximize program offerings across all of our secondary schools and provide more opportunities for all of our students in their home schools.

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But for parents and alumni, the value of the school goes beyond the courses offered, providing a community-based and different learning environment.

“It gives them a sense of belonging. The teachers who are there because the classrooms are small, they give the children who attend a purpose not only because they have an education, but help them build their confidence, help them see, you can learn – look, you can do it,” Grech said.

“My son made connections he never made all through elementary school and even tried to get into high school.”

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Renne Mersereau attended Thames High School before the merger, graduating in 1995, and his son Michael just graduated in 2020.

“I have a learning disability so I have learning issues and difficulty concentrating. So it helped me concentrate and get decent grades and graduate because I hated school,” Mersereau said.

She tells Global News that it wasn’t until she changed schools that she found a place that worked for her and she started to like school, adding that it was the same for his son Michael.

“He was really struggling in high school to the point that he was about to drop out. BD accepted him into school and helped him get the grades he needed and the education he needed and graduate from high school. If it wasn’t for them, he would be a dropout,” Michael said.

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Mersereau hoped his second son, who is about to start high school in a year, would be admitted, but was upset to find that they weren’t currently admitting students.

“I think they should just keep it open and bring in kids who need help, or kids with similar learning disabilities who can’t concentrate in large classes and need support extra,” she said. “In regular high schools, they offer these programs, but it’s a bigger class, and this school offers smaller classes and more one-on-one help and understanding for kids who need assistive technology.”

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