In 2006, after several teacher collective agreements decreased supervision time in classrooms and throughout schools, Ontario principals and vice-principals became increasingly concerned about the impact on student safety. A survey of 1,400 principals reported

  • fewer teachers supervising more students
  • untrained volunteers supervising students
  • lost instructional time
  • increases in vandalism, bullying, assaults, behavioural issues, theft, graffiti, drug activity, truancy and verbal abuse
  • a visible reduction in supervision in and around the school
  • elementary school students supervising younger students in the absence of teachers
  • teachers supervising more than one classroom, lunchroom or portable at a time
  • playgrounds, climbing equipment, breakfast clubs and co-curricular activities limited, closed or cancelled
  • less instructional time for special needs students as Educational Assistants were re-assigned to assist with supervision
  • principals assigned to formal supervision spending less time meeting with parents and mentoring students and teachers
  • teachers reporting concern for their personal safety.

The Need for Standards

While trying to help principals deal with this issue, we conducted research about how supervision was managed in other jurisdictions, finding that only two school boards in Canada and a few in the United States had developed mandatory standards.

In Ontario, school boards have standards in place for off-site field trips, physical education classes and sports, but no standards to deal with supervision during recess, lunchtime, transition between classes, before and after school, in hallways and in cafeterias.

Standards would provide school leaders with direction around safe, sensible and consistent practices.

In 2007, we developed reasonable, comprehensive and sensible standards that schools can refer to and use, and called on the government to endorse them and provide appropriate resources for their implementation. To date, the standards have not been endorsed, funded or implemented in any Ontario school boards.