About school climate

School climate is the learning environment and relationships in a school and school community.

A positive school climate exists when:

  • everyone in the school community feels safe, included and accepted
  • everyone actively promotes positive behaviours and interactions
  • equity and inclusive education are embedded in the learning environment
  • there is a culture of mutual respect

A positive school climate is a crucial component of preventing inappropriate behaviour.

Develop a more positive school climate

We all have a role to play in modelling positive, inclusive and respectful language and behaviour.

To help achieve a positive school climate, boards and schools should:

  • actively promote and support positive behaviours that reflect their board's code of conduct and equity and inclusive education policy
  • invite members of the broader community to become involved in this effort as part of the school community

Characteristics of a positive school climate

In a positive school climate:

  • students, staff members and parents feel – and are – safe, included and accepted
  • all members of the school community demonstrate respect, fairness and kindness in their interactions, and build healthy relationships that are free from discrimination and harassment
  • students are encouraged and given support to be positive leaders and role models in their school community for example, by speaking up about issues such as bullying
  • students, principals, staff members, parents and community members engage in open and ongoing dialogue and all partners are actively engaged
  • principles of equity and inclusive education are embedded across the curriculum
  • strategies for bullying prevention and intervention and awareness-raising are reinforced for students and staff
  • the learning environment, instructional materials, and teaching and assessment strategies reflect the diversity of all learners
  • every student is inspired and given support to succeed in an environment of high expectations

School climate surveys

School boards must administer school climate surveys to their students, parents and school staff at least once every two years. Boards are required to inform parents that these surveys are voluntary and that they can choose not to have their child participate.

These anonymous surveys help schools:

  • assess perceptions of safety
  • make informed planning decisions about programs to help prevent bullying and promote safe and inclusive schools
  • determine the effectiveness of their programs on an ongoing basis
  • build and sustain a positive school climate
  • Schools must share survey results with the school’s Safe and Accepting Schools teams

Data and results

Schools and school boards use data from the surveys to assess students’, parents’ and staff’s perceptions of safety and make informed decisions to help prevent bullying and build and sustain a positive school climate.

The results of the school climate surveys identify schools’ progress and the challenges that should be addressed.

Sample surveys

Sample School Climate Surveys assist schools and boards to meet these obligations.

Surveys are available in both English and French in a variety of formats including:

  • Word versions which can be adapted to meet local needs
  • PDF versions which can be provided to students, parents or school staff who wish to complete the survey in written format
  • online versions which include a data roll-up function and report of summarized data
  • Access the Online School Climate Survey Tool

Word and PDF versions and information in other languages are available from the Inclusive Education, Priorities and Engagement Branch: IEPEB@ontario.ca.