Engaging Families in School Council

School Councils make a significant difference in the lives of students, staff, and families. They welcome families, encourage parent engagement, work to improve student achievement, and enhance the accountability of the education system to parents and caregivers. It is important that your school community know who the members are, what you do, and how they can get involved. 

The following sections provide tips for engaging with the school community, with fellow School Council members, and with the broader community.

Equity and Inclusion

As collaborators in education, schools and School Councils recognize that all families have an equitable place in our schools' community, free from racism, classism, colonialism, and other forms of discrimination, intentional or unintentional. All members of the school community are welcome to attend council meetings. Participation can take many forms and work to:

  • Offer parents/caregivers a variety of ways to share their voices, knowledge, and expertise
  • Build relationships between parents/caregivers and the school and break down walls and barriers
  • Strive to identify and eliminate barriers to participation for parents/caregivers
  • Disrupt practices that contribute to oppression based on race, class, nationality, abilities, gender, education, or language

School Council programming should reflect the goals of the OCDSB’s Indigenous, Equity & Human Rights Roadmap by ensuring that councils create welcoming and inclusive spaces for all members of their school community. Some ways to do this include:

  • Welcome local translators to your meetings.
  • Engage the school’s Multicultural Liasion Officer (MLO) for multi-lingual support. Talk to your principal for more information.
  • Encourage leaders of diverse cultural and language groups to share information about the School Council with members of their communities.
  • Avoid scheduling meetings on religious holidays. Refer to the OCDSB Religious and Creed-Based Holy Days Calendar when planning events and meetings.
  • Leverage local multicultural media outlets to raise awareness about your school and School Council events.
  • Serve Halal and Kosher food options at events. (Refer to the School Food and Beverage Policy for information about making healthy food choices).

Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO), a partner of the school district, has been working for many years to increase the involvement of all parents in the school. They have compiled a list of 25 suggestions for effective ways for School Councils to use the $500 Parent Involvement grant to increase involvement throughout your whole school community:


Events are a great way to engage families and fundraise. Events can take a wide range of formats, including speaker sessions, webinars, movie nights, pizza nights, BBQs, team games or sports, art or craft sessions, contests, and many others. The following tip sheets, with content originally produced by Kawartha Pine Ridge School Board, provide ideas to help you plan effective events:

Communication Strategies

The key to any successful partnership is communication. When parents are actively involved in their children’s education there is a sense of connectivity with their children’s teacher, principal, School Council, and the greater community. This connection helps to promote engagement, trust, and support for School Council initiatives.

One of a council’s first tasks might be to develop a communications plan. You can also create communication plans for specific projects or events. The following template may be used:

Here are some of the communication strategies and channels available to School Councils:

  • Include information in your school’s newsletters
  • Leverage the school or School Council’s social media accounts
  • Post to the school website
  • Organize a telephone tree
  • Collect e-mail addresses from parents and set up distribution lists
  • Host information sessions
  • Seek out inexpensive advertising methods
  • Make use of free public service announcements

Digital Platforms

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