Ensuring Equity in Ontario’s Education System

Ensuring equity is a central goal of Ontario’s publicly funded education system, as set out in Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario (2014). It stems from a fundamental principle that every student should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of background, identity or personal circumstances.

Equity is also connected to all of the elements of the ministry’s vision for education, from achieving excellence to promoting well-being and enhancing public confidence in our education system. It is a critical component of the student experience, and it’s at the core of our commitment to the success of every student and child in Ontario.

Education Equity Action Plan

In September 2017, Ontario launched its Education Equity Action Plan to serve as the province’s blueprint for identifying and eliminating discriminatory practices, systemic barriers and biases from schools and classrooms. This action plan will build on the ministry’s 2009 Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, bringing new focus and resources to bear as a means of accelerating our progress.

Systemic barriers are caused by embedded biases in policies, practices and processes, and may result in differential treatment. The impact of these barriers is detrimental for many and can have lasting consequences. When factors such as race, class, gender identity, religion, and physical or intellectual ability intersect, they can create additional barriers and unique experiences of discrimination for some students.

The action plan will unfold over three years — beginning with the 2017-18 school year — and bring together parents, educators, principals, board staff, trustees and community leaders who will bring it to life.

To help implement the action plan, the ministry has created the Education Equity Secretariat. The secretariat will work to bridge gaps and address disparities in achievement for Ontario’s students through new policies, resources and program options, and with realistic goals that will help all students.

The key components

The key components of Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan include enhancing:

  • School and Classroom Practices by ensuring that they reflect and respond to the diversity of all students and staff.
  • Leadership, Governance and Human Resource Practices by ensuring that the diversity of the teachers, staff and school system leaders in Ontario schools reflect the diversity of their students, and that those education leaders are committed to equity for all learners and to upholding and promoting human rights.
  • Data Collection, Integration and Reporting by collecting and analyzing demographic data to gain a clearer understanding of who Ontario’s students and staff are, which will enable our school and system leaders to more precisely address the barriers to student success through data-informed decision-making.
  • Organizational Culture Change by applying an equity, inclusion and human rights perspective to the Ministry of Education’s internal organizational structures, policies, programs and practices. The Ministry of Education will become an example of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and demonstrate our commitment to upholding and promoting human rights.

Ontario’s vision for education is about creating the best possible experience for staff, educators and students. The result of this work will be positive learning environments where student achievement, well-being and equity are the top priority.

Additional Reading