Last push to save London Vocational School

Supporters of a London vocational school have made a final appeal to stop it being closed.

There were both impassioned and motivated calls to maintain B. Davison High School as a vocational school; most have focused on students who supporters say have been lost to traditional high schools.

“The kids were able to get hands-on work and understand what they were doing because they were trained by professionals,” said former support worker Angie Welch.

Welch worked at Sir George Ross and Thames Secondary – two grammar schools which merged and became B, Davison in 2014.

According to Welch, what will be lost are supports for students struggling to find a way.

There were four presenters at Tuesday night’s public session with about 40 supporters in the gallery.

“You were easily labeled a troublemaker. Believe it or not, detention was my bedroom at home,” Ross’ former student Catie Tweel said.

Tweel struggled with school and only found a way by taking cookery lessons at Sir George Ross and added: “…I took this with me for over a decade until ‘that I changed for health care.”

There are now less than 40 students attending B. Davison, taking grades 11 and 12 classes.

Staff from the Thames Valley District School Board say more vocational programs are offered in neighborhood high schools and argued that students in Davison are disadvantaged by longer bus journeys and the stigma that attending a vocational school can entail.

“There’s something to be proud of someone choosing this path,” said Marianne Larsen, professor emeritus at Western University‘s faculty of education.

She thinks there are other ways to destigmatize attending vocational schools.

“I think we need to change the whole discourse and see professional learning as being as important as pathways to college and university,” Larsen added,

The board says B. Davison will not be closed but could be reassigned.

A review of all secondary school premises and programming is expected to be delivered in January.

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