Whole school approach

Our approach to making schools safe and accepting involves the whole school. It focuses on:

  • collaboratively promoting positive student behaviour through a code of conduct
  • building healthy and respectful relationships throughout the whole school community
  • preventing inappropriate behaviour through initiatives like bullying prevention programs
  • addressing inappropriate behaviour through progressive discipline

Schools are also encouraged to build partnerships with community agencies to support prevention and early intervention.

Progressive discipline

Every school in Ontario must have a progressive discipline policy.

A progressive discipline policy means principals can choose from a range of options to help students:

  • improve their behaviour
  • learn from their choices

The goal is to help prevent inappropriate student behaviour from happening again.

When schools use progressive discipline, they should take the following into consideration:

  • students' stage of growth and development
  • nature and severity of the behaviour
  • impact of the behaviour on the school climate

Examples of progressive discipline

Progressive discipline can include:

  • a conversation with the student
  • a review of expectations for the student's behaviour
  • counselling from a social worker (for example, life skills coaching or anger management)
  • an assignment or detention
  • suspending or expelling the student from school

Principals will choose an option after looking at individual circumstances and factors such as the student's:

  • age
  • stage of social development
  • special education needs
  • history
  • the circumstances of the behaviour

Principals will consider ongoing discussions with students and their parents or guardians when choosing an option that will help the student improve their behaviour and make good choices.

Students with special education needs

For a student with special education needs, the interventions, supports and consequences must be consistent with the information in the student's Individual Education Plan.

Read the guidance document that school leaders use to support students with special needs through progressive discipline. The guidance has information for students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Serious cases

In more serious cases, the principal may recommend that the student be expelled or suspended from school.

Students who are suspended:

  • for one to five school days, can expect schools to give them a homework package to allow them to continue their education
  • for more than five school days, will be offered a board program to give them opportunities to keep learning

Learn what happens if a student it suspended or expelled.

How parents are involved

Schools actively engage parents in the progressive discipline approach by involving them in ongoing conversations about their children's achievement, well-being and behaviour.

When schools and parents are partners, the results include:

  • improved student well-being
  • reduced absenteeism
  • positive student behaviour
  • improved student achievement
  • increased confidence among parents in their children's schooling

Free, confidential support for students

Call Kids Help Phone toll-free 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.

This confidential service is available 24/7.

Resources for parents


Learn what to watch for, what you can do and where you can go to get help if your child is being bullied. Find out what you can do to help stop bullying.

Use this multimedia toolkit to prevent bullying and support you child.

Help your child succeed in school

Download and use the parent toolkit to: