Connections to Ministry of Education Policy and Provincial Legislation | Ophea Teaching Tools

    Connections to Ministry of Education Policy and Provincial Legislation

    The Safe and Accepting Schools Strategy

    The Safe and Accepting Schools Strategy is based on the principle that a safe and positive learning environment is essential for student success and promotes positive student behaviour. It is made up of a comprehensive legislative and policy framework including the following:

    • Progressive Discipline and School Safety Act, 2007: The ministry undertook a review of the safe schools provisions of the Education Act that resulted in legislation and policy that combines prevention and intervention strategies, and discipline with opportunities for students to continue their education. This included the requirement for boards to provide programs for students who are on long-term suspension or expelled and added bullying (including cyberbullying) as an incident for which the principal must consider for suspension.
    • Keeping Our Kids Safe at School Act, 2009: Focused on reducing violence, harassment, and inappropriate sexual behaviour of students towards other students. These amendments resulted in reporting and responding requirements to address inappropriate student behaviour as well as the provision of supports for all students.
    • Accepting Schools Act, 2012: Came into force on September 1, 2012, and set out additional requirements for school boards to create safe, inclusive and accepting schools and to take further measures to prevent and address inappropriate student behaviour in schools. This includes the requirement for principals to consider expulsion for bullying and for incidents motivated by hate, prejudice or bias.


    The Ministry’s policy framework includes:

    • Provincial Code of Conduct & School Board Codes of Conduct (PPM 128);
    • Progressive Discipline and Promoting Positive Student Behaviour (PPM 145);
    • Bullying Prevention and Intervention (PPM 144); 
    • School Board Programs For Expelled Students (PPM 142);
    • School Board Programs For Students on Long-Term Suspension (PPM 141);
    • Provincial Model for a Local Police/School Board Protocol


    The Safe and Accepting Schools Strategy focuses on:

    • clarifying the standards of behaviour for the school community;
    • requiring every school board employee to play a role in promoting positive student behaviour to improve school climate and to support victims;
    • preventing inappropriate behaviour;
    • using progressive discipline to address inappropriate behaviour with appropriate consequences and supports including early and ongoing intervention, meeting with parents, withdrawal of privileges, and non-academic supports;
    • supporting student engagement in schools; and
    • supporting parents and community-based service providers’ engagement in schools.


    The Education Act requires all school boards to provide safe, inclusive, and accepting learning environments for all students (regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, marital status, family status, disability or other factors).


    The Provincial Code of Conduct and School Board Codes of Conduct, Policy and Program Memorandum 128 (December 2012)

    A school should be a place that promotes responsibility, respect, civility, and academic excellence in a safe learning and teaching environment. A positive school climate exists when all members of the school community feel safe, included, and accepted, and actively promote positive behaviours and interactions.

    All students, parents/guardians, teachers and other school staff have the right to be safe, and to feel safe, in their school community. With this right comes the responsibility to contribute to a positive school climate.

    The provincial Code of Conduct sets clear provincial standards of behaviour. These standards of behaviour apply to students whether they are on school property, on school buses, at school-related events or activities, or in other circumstances that could have an impact on the school climate. They also apply to all individuals involved in the publicly funded school system – principals, teachers, other school staff, parents, volunteers, and community groups.

    The ministry provides clear direction on how school board employees must handle student incidents that occur at school, at school-related activities or in any other circumstances where the student’s behaviour has a negative impact on the school climate. Our ongoing efforts to make Ontario’s schools safe and accepting for students and staff require:

    • All school board employees to report to their principal any incident that can lead to suspension or expulsion
    • Principals to contact the parents of students involved in these types of incidents
    • Staff who work directly with students to respond to incidents that have a negative impact on the school climate. These could include racist or sexist comments, vandalism  — incidents that are unacceptable in our schools, as well as incidents that can lead to suspension or expulsion.
    • As indicated in subsection 1(1) of the Education Act, School boards must use the following definition of bullying in their Bullying Prevention and Intervention Policy:
      • “bullying” means aggressive and typically repeated behaviour by a pupil where:
        • the behaviour is intended by the pupil to have the effect of, or the pupil ought to know that the behaviour would be likely to have the effect of:
          • causing harm, fear or distress to another individual, including physical, psychological, social or academic harm, harm to the individual’s reputation or harm to the individual’s property; or
          • creating a negative environment at a school for another individual, and
        • the behaviour occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance between the pupil and the individual based on factors such as size, strength, age, intelligence, peer group power, economic status, social status, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, family circumstances, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, disability or the receipt of special education.
    • The principal must consider suspension if a student has engaged in bullying including cyberbullying.
    • In some circumstances, a student may be expelled for bullying. If a student has engaged in any of the following activities, the principal will immediately suspend the student and investigate the incident and recommend whether the student should be expelled:
      • bullying - if the student has previously been suspended for bullying, and the
      • student’s presence in the school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of another person.
    • Suspension will be considered, whether the activity took place at school, at a school-related activity (e.g., a field trip), or in any other circumstances where the student’s behaviour has an impact on the school climate (like cyberbullying).


    Bill C-13: Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act

    In December 2014 Bill C-13: Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, received Royal Assent. This Bill amended the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, making it illegal to distribute intimate images of a person without their consent. Under Bill C-13, police only need “reasonable grounds for suspicion” to get a warrant to obtain information about an Internet user.

    Non-consensual sharing of intimate images is defined in the Provincial Model for a Local Police/School Board Protocol as knowingly publishing, distributing, transmitting, selling, making available, or advertising an intimate image of another person while knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent, or being reckless as to whether the person gave their consent. The term “intimate image” refers to a visual recording such as a photograph, film, or video recording of a person in which the person is nude or engaged in explicit sexual activity and which was created in circumstances that gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy


    Safe Schools Teams

    Each school must have in place a safe and accepting schools team responsible for fostering a safe, inclusive, and accepting school climate that should include at least one student and must include at least one parent/guardian, one teacher, one non-teaching staff member, one community partner, and the principal. An existing school committee (e.g., the healthy schools committee) can assume this role. The chair of this team must be a staff member. (PPM 144 has been updated:


    Promoting a Positive School Climate: A Resource for Schools (2013)

    Promoting a Positive School Climate: A Resource for Schools was developed by the Ministry of Education to help schools and their safe and accepting schools teams foster and maintain a positive school climate. Teachers will find definitions, characteristics, and guiding principles for creating a positive school climate.


    Foundations for a Healthy School

    The Ontario Ministry of Education and the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport created the Foundations for a Healthy School Framework to help school communities address all areas of health and wellness in the school and in the community.

    In a Healthy School, health promoting messages are reinforced consistently across all aspects of life and learning within a school. This means students have many opportunities to learn attitudes and behaviours that will positively impact their health and well-being.

    Connect[ED] incorporates a healthy schools approach in the following ways:

    • Recognizes the important role that the entire school community plays in ensuring the safety of students online. This includes teachers, students, parents, police and community organizations.
    • Provides access to community supports that help reinforce Internet safety in the school, at home and in the community.