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   Ontario's School System



Roles and Responsibilities

Ministry of Education
The Ontario Ministry of Education is the department of the Government of Ontario that decides on the province’s education policy, including assessment policies. Led by the Minister of Education, the Ministry makes decisions about funding given to school boards, maintains a province-wide curriculum, sets guidelines for trustees, principals and school board officials, sets requirements for diplomas and certificates, and prepares lists of approved learning materials such as textbooks.

School Boards
Every publicly-funded school in Ontario belongs to a school board. Run by elected officials known as trustees, each school board is responsible for the financial and organizational operations of its schools. Schools are grouped together into boards based on location, language and whether they are Catholic or public institutions. Ontario currently has a total of 72 District School Boards that can be broken down into four systems:

  1. English-language public boards (31)
  2. English-language Catholic boards (29)
  3. French-language public boards (4)
  4. French-language Catholic boards (8)

Each school board is responsible for determining the number, size and location of its schools, building and equipping its schools, developing education programs, managing funds, supervising school operations, hiring and supporting teachers, approving textbooks, making sure its schools follow the Ontario Education Act, as well as a number of other responsibilities. For more information on Ontario’s school boards, including maps showing their locations, please consult the Ministry of Education’s website by clicking here.

In addition to the 72 school boards, there are 33 school authorities in the province. School authorities are generally very small and geographically isolated, often consisting of only one school, with very few students and a small number of teachers.

The people that make up the governing body of each school board are known as trustees. Trustees are elected through a local election process. When a trustee is elected to a board, he or she serves a three-year term. If they wish to continue serving on a school board after this term, they must be re-elected by the public. As members of the school board, trustees help decide school board policy and manage finances. They also ensure that schools have the required curriculum materials, facilities and staff.

Teacher Federations
Founded by the Teaching Profession Act of 1944, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) is the professional organization representing teachers in Ontario. It is made up of four affiliated groups, sometimes referred to as “professional associations” or “teacher unions”:

  1. L’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO)
    AEFO represents all teachers who work in the French language (also known as “francophone”) publicly funded schools in Ontario.
  2. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO)
    ETFO represents all teachers who work in the public elementary English language schools in Ontario.
  3. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA)
    OECTA represents all elementary and secondary teachers who work in the Catholic English language schools in Ontario.
  4. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF)
    OSSTF represents all teachers who work in the public secondary English language schools in Ontario.
All teachers who work in Ontario's publicly-funded school system belong to one of these four organizations as well as OTF. OTF’s responsibilities include promoting and advancing the cause of public education, raising the status of the teaching profession and promoting and advancing the interests of teachers. OTF also represents teachers and all other members of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan in the administration of the Plan and management of the pension fund, and acts as the link between teachers and the Ontario Ministry of Education. OTF’s affiliates are responsible for negotiating teachers’ salaries and benefits, protecting teachers’ working conditions and ensuring that all demands on teachers are made fairly and according to collective agreements.

The College
The Ontario College of Teachers is the largest professional self-regulatory body in Canada with more than 200,000 members. It was founded in 1996 to license and regulate teaching in the public interest. The College ensures the province’s teachers are qualified and competent, and that students are safe in their care. The College is responsible for ensuring new members are qualified to teach in Ontario and for accrediting teacher education programs at Ontario universities. The College promotes ongoing professional learning and ensures its quality and accessibility all across the province in both English and French. The College is also responsible for investigating complaints related to professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity.