Parent/Caregiver School Climate Survey - Frequently Asked Questions

The Parent/Caregiver School Climate Survey was conducted in March 2023, offered in the following languages: English | French | Arabic | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Inuktitut | Pashto | Russian | Spanish | Somali | Turkish | Urdu


What is the Parent/Caregiver School Climate Survey? 

The OCDSB’s Parent/Caregiver School Climate Survey is a voluntary and anonymous online survey for parents, guardians, and caregivers of students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. The survey provides parents, guardians and caregivers an opportunity to give feedback about their families’ and their child’s experiences with the school. 

What is the purpose of the survey? 

Your responses on this survey will help our schools better understand how you experience the school and community, and your child’s experiences at school with bullying, safety, engagement and well-being. We know that when our students and families feel safe and welcomed at school this promotes academic success and well-being for every student. The results of the survey also help to support bullying prevention and intervention plans and help with school improvement planning. 

What does school climate mean?

School climate refers to the learning environment and relationships found within a school and school community. A positive school climate exists when all members of the school community feel safe, included, and accepted, and actively promote positive behaviours and interactions. Principles of equity and inclusive education are embedded in the learning environment to support a positive school climate and a culture of mutual respect. Some of the characteristics associated with a positive school climate include:

  • Students, staff members and parents, guardians and caregivers 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, principals, staff members, parents and community members engage in open and ongoing dialogue. 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.

Why are we doing the survey?

The school district is committed to gaining a better understanding of our families and students to help us improve student achievement and well-being. Parents, guardians and caregivers will be able to share their ideas, thoughts or concerns about their child’s school; their input will help make sure that their child’s school is safe, inclusive, and welcoming. Schools will also use the information gathered from these surveys to develop their annual Bullying Prevention and Intervention and School Improvement Plans. This survey also fulfills the Ministry of Education requirement (PPM No.145) that all schools conduct a school climate survey for students, staff, and parents every two years. 

Why is my participation important?

We want to hear about your experiences and your child’s experiences with the school.This is your opportunity to provide your opinion on things that matter most to you or your child at your child’s school. This survey, done every two years, is one way  the school monitors conditions that impact sense of belonging, relationships with others, safety, bullying, learning conditions, and well-being. Your responses will provide the school and board with valuable information that will be used to enhance the teaching and learning environment of your child’s school and inform school improvement initiatives. 


When will the survey be done?
The survey will be available from March 1st to March 24th, 2023.  Parents, guardians and caregivers will receive communication from their school prior to the survey. 

Why are we doing this now?

Surveys are being administered in the Winter so that parents, guardians, and caregivers can reflect on their experiences in school so far this year. All parent/caregiver surveys will be administered during the same time period across all schools.

Who will complete this survey?

Parents, guardians, or caregivers of any OCDSB student in Kindergarten through to Grade 12 are invited to complete the survey. 

I’ve already completed a Parent School Climate Survey in the past. Why do I need to do it again?

If you completed the last survey, we thank you and appreciate you sharing any changes that may have occurred for your child(ren). If you moved into our District since the last survey, the experiences of your child are important to be included.

How is this survey different from the OurSCHOOL Parent Survey the OCDSB used in the past?

The OCDSB used the OurSCHOOL survey by The Learning Bar from 2012 to 2019. The OCDSB developed a new parent/caregiver survey to better meet the needs of the District, and to align with key indicators and measurable outcomes required by the Ontario Ministry of Education Policy/Program Memorandum No. 145, the OCDSB Strategic Plan (2019-2023), the OCDSB Mental Health Strategy (2019-2022), and the OCDSB Indigenous, Equity, and Human Rights Roadmap (2020 to 2023). The survey also aligns with the OCDSB’s Student School Climate Survey.

What types of questions are asked on the survey?

The surveys cover a wide range of topics important to our students and families including:

  • Engagement (sense of belonging and social connectedness, student relationships with adults at school, parent-teacher relationships, intellectual engagement, extracurricular activities, support outside of school, and parent engagement and involvement);
  • Environment (school environment, school discipline, instructional environment, representation, identity and diversity, and communication);
  • Safety (feeling safe at school, bullying, sexual harassment (7 to 12 only), stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination);
  • Well-Being (general well-being and social and emotional skills).

The survey also includes questions about student and parent/caregiver race, gender identity, Indigenous identity, disability, religion and 2SLGBTQ+ identity.

Why does the survey ask about race, gender identity, Indigenous identity, disability, religion, and 2SLGBTQ+ identity?

All aspects of identity matter, including gender identity and sexual orientation.  It is important for us to get to know our students and our families, including their lived experiences and what they need to support them.. These questions help schools understand how students and families experience their school environment, and identify any systemic trends that impact some more than others. This information helps us identify and reduce inequities in student experiences and outcomes. The inclusion of these questions is in alignment with the Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism and will help to address District priorities outlined in the Indigenous, Equity, and Human Rights Roadmap. 

How long is the survey?

The survey includes 110 questions plus some questions related to demographic information or identity of parents/caregivers and students. Questions are very short - either multiple choice, or agree/disagree, with one open-ended question. The survey should take approximately 15 to 25 minutes to complete for each child

How frequently is the survey administered?

The Education Act requires that each school climate survey be administered at least once every two years. The student school climate survey was conducted with students in Grades 4 to 12 last year (April/May 2022). The survey is being conducted with parents/caregivers and educators this year. 


How will the survey be completed?
The survey is administered using
Qualtrics, a secure online survey platform that is accessible on any mobile device, tablet, laptop or computer. Paper copies (PDFs) are available on the OCDSB school climate webpage. They can be printed from the webpage, completed at home, and returned to the child’s school. 

Can I participate in a language other than English?

The online parent survey will be translated into Arabic, French, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Urdu, Somali, Russian, Spanish, Pashto, Turkish and Inuktitut. Paper copies (PDFs) will also be available in these languages. Schools may also be able to support parents with translation or interpretation through community or parent volunteers, or a Multicultural Liaison Officer (MLO). 

Can the survey be completed using a mobile device?

Yes, the survey can be completed using a mobile device. 

Can I start and return to the survey at another time?

If you are unable to complete the survey in one sitting, or you experience connectivity interruptions, you can return later on to your survey responses via the browser window in use. You must continue using the same device to be able to access your previous responses. If you change devices you must restart the survey from the beginning. 

If you wish to complete the survey additional times for other children, you will need to complete previous surveys in full prior to completing the survey again for each additional child. Alternatively, you may complete additional surveys using other devices. 

What if I don’t have a device to complete the survey?

Parents/caregivers may ask for the school to provide a paper copy of the survey, which can be completed at home, and returned to the child’s school. Schools may also host an event or evening where devices would be available for parents to come to the school and complete the survey. 

What if I have more than one child in the OCDSB?

We ask that you complete the survey with one child in mind. However, parents are more than welcome to complete one survey for each child. If you wish to do so, simply re-visit the survey link provided to you and complete the survey again for each additional child. 

Can another parent/caregiver of the child and I both submit a response?

Yes, all parents/caregivers are encouraged to complete the survey. 

What do I do if I am having difficulty participating?

If you are having difficulty participating, we would be happy to help. Please contact us by email at [email protected]


Is the survey voluntary? Do I need to provide consent?
The survey is completely voluntary. You are encouraged to complete the survey as this information will be used to help make your child’s school a better place, but if you choose not to, there will be no penalty. There is no consent form to participate. Completion of the survey implies consent. You may skip any questions you do not wish to answer (aside from those at the beginning of the survey that ask you to identify the school and grade). 

What if I don't want to answer certain questions?
You may skip any question you do not wish to answer (aside from the items at the beginning of the survey that ask you to identify the school and grade of your child). 

How is the survey anonymous?
Your answers will not be linked back to you. Rather, your responses will be combined with others' and used to inform improvement and planning efforts.

Who will be able to see the survey responses?

By law, the OCDSB must protect the privacy and personal information of students.  The survey complies with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and the requirements of the Education Act.  Only a few OCDSB staff (i.e., Research, Evaluation and Analytics Division) will have access to your answers for the purpose of compiling school and District level results. Teachers, principals, and other school board staff WILL NOT see your survey responses.

How do I know my privacy is protected?

The school district is committed to protecting your privacy in accordance with our legislated duty under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The survey is anonymous so your responses will not be connected to your name, email address, or any other identifying information. Data will be stored on a secure database that is only accessible to authorized members of the Research, Evaluation and Analytics Division (READ). Reports will only contain summary data; individual data will not be shared. Respect for participant anonymity, well-being, and safety remain paramount. If you have questions about privacy, please contact 613-596-8232. 


When will I be able to see the results?

A summary of results will be shared with school administrators in the Spring of 2023. Administrators are encouraged to share the results with students, staff, school councils, parents and members of the community. 

How will my child’s school use the data?

Schools use the School Climate Survey results to help make decisions around improving school climate as part of the ongoing work to create accepting schools in which everyone belongs, to guide school improvement planning, and inform educator practices aimed at reducing inequities in student experiences and outcomes.  Results are used by schools to give families and students a voice so they are able to share their ideas, thoughts or concerns about their school. Input provided helps make their school safe and more welcoming.

How will the OCDSB use the data?

At a District level, school climate data is used to identify areas of strength and areas of need within the board, to identify patterns in the data that will help to guide decision-making and planning, to inform district-level policies and priorities, and to monitor progress towards meeting equity goals. The District reports are an aggregate of all school results from the measures within the surveys. District-level data may also be used to assist school administrators in situating their school results. 

After the student school climate survey in June 2022, how were the results used or what changes were made?

At the District-level, the student results have been used to:

  • Support the development of the OCDSB’s Renewal Support Plan;
  • Guide School Improvement Planning; and
  • Support the development of a new Strategic Plan.

At the school-level, the student school climate survey results (June 2022) have been used to:

  • Reconnect with school communities (following COVID)
  • Have courageous conversations about established practices with their educators that need to change 
  • Provide information at staff meetings and parent council meetings etc. 
  • Dispel myths and misconceptions about the school narrative and the students/families they serve. These results shed light on where these misconceptions are and where priorities are now. 
  • Engage staff, students, parents and school councils in identifying next steps and initiatives in the school. 
  • Implement programs like The Third Path (a relationship-based approach to student well-being and achievement) and anti-bullying programs (e.g., WITS, Dare, etc.)
  • Dig deeper and explore areas of strength and need to get a better understanding of some of the results using focus groups (e.g., with students, staff, or parents/caregivers)
  • Increase representation of minoritized and marginalized students through student leadership councils and associations (e.g., LGBTQ2S+, Black, Muslim, students with disabilities), and promote recognition of diversity
  • Establish safe schools committees 
  • Incorporate educational practices (e.g., Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Universal Design for Learning, Differentiated Instruction) in the classroom.                         

Who do I contact for more information?

If you require further information or have additional questions about this survey, please email: [email protected]

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