Safe and Accepting Schools: Promoting a Positive School Climate

Safe and Accepting Schools

Promoting a Positive School Climate


A positive learning and teaching environment is essential if students are to succeed in school. "Promoting a Positive School Climate" is a resource that provides examples of practices and activities that will help your school improve its overall school climate. This resource has been designed to help your school and safe and accepting schools team identify practices that could work for you or be adapted to suit your needs.

What is School Climate?

School climate may be defined as:

"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. A positive school climate is a crucial component of the prevention of inappropriate behaviour."

Policy/Program Memorandum No. 145, "Progressive Discipline and Promoting Positive Student Behaviour" (December 5, 2012)

As leaders, educators play an important role in modelling positive, inclusive and respectful language and behaviour in schools and classrooms. To help achieve a positive school climate, boards and schools should actively promote and support positive behaviours that reflect their board's code of conduct, equity and inclusive education policy and character development initiatives. They should also invite members of the broader community to become involved in this effort as part of the school community.

Characteristics of a Positive School Climate

The following are some of the characteristics associated with a positive school climate:

  • Students, staff members and parents 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 are encouraged and given support to be positive leaders and role models in their school community; for example, by speaking up about issues such as bullying.
  • 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.

How to develop a more positive school climate

Besides the practical examples offered in the Positive School Climate resource, discussion questions are also provided in a worksheet to help start a conversation at your school about how to develop and promote a positive school climate. These questions could be used at a staff meeting or at a safe and accepting schools team meeting to celebrate all the things that are currently taking place and/or to identify areas that could use more attention.

School climate surveys

School boards are required to administer school climate surveys to their students, parents and school staff at least once every two years and, as outlined in Policy/Program Memorandum No. 145, Progressive Discipline and Promoting Positive Student Behaviour.

Surveys will be used to assess perceptions of safety and make informed decisions about programs and strategies to help prevent bullying and build and sustain a positive school climate. Survey results must be shared with the school's safe and accepting schools teams.

The results of the school climate surveys identify schools' progress and the challenges to be addressed. The positive school climate resource provides practical ideas for safe and accepting schools teams to consider as they build on successes and address new and ongoing challenges with respect to improving the school climate. It offers new ideas and strategies that can be adapted as they continue to nurture a learning environment that enables all students to thrive.

Building on initiatives already in place

“Promoting a Positive School Climate” supports and complements the work your school is doing in numerous areas. It brings together ideas from various initiatives that your school is already working on, including:

  • Equity and Inclusive Education
  • Character Development
  • Student Engagement
  • Safe and Accepting Schools
  • Healthy Schools
  • Parent Engagement
  • Community Partnerships
  • Leadership Development

How to use the resource “Promoting a Positive School Climate”

The resource has two parts:
1/ “Promoting a Positive School Climate”
This offers a range of practical suggestions for activities/practices that can be applied to the entire school, the classroom or to students.

Note: To print the Resource actual size, the document will need to be tiled. After clicking ‘Print', select ‘Tile all pages' from the drop down menu under Page Scaling. The document will print in six tiles on letter size paper.

2/ Worksheet with discussion questions
This worksheet is intended to act as a “thought starter” for schools. It has a series of questions that will spark discussion and help to generate ideas about new activities and practices that can be put in place at your school.

Your feedback

The Ministry plans to continually update the resource "Promoting a Positive School Climate" with new ideas to keep it current and to help share effective practices across the province on an ongoing basis. Tell Us What Your School Did.