School Supervision Committees: Assuming the responsibility

Dave Kendall

Before this current collective agreement became effective, principals dutifully prepared supervision schedules and the dialogue occurring between the principal and staff about the schedule depended upon the principal’s leadership style.

During  the  framework  discussions  leading  to the 2004-2008 collective agreement negotiations, the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), ETFO, and the Minister of Education agreed on a new structure for the provision of supervision in our schools.

OPSBA, on behalf of the boards, accepted that principals would now share this responsibility. ETFO agreed that teachers would take on this new responsibility. The Minister of  Education, Gerard Kennedy, assured both sides they would have  the  needed  legislative  authority  and  the support of the government.

Initially, a number of school boards and many principals were not prepared for their new role in shared decision making. The Provincial Stability Commission (PSC)  has successfully convinced most boards of the need for change, and continues to work with others to reach the required objective.

The Education Act has never given exclusive rights to principals in this area, but during many past decades principals assumed the responsibility. (The box on page 31 outlines what the Education Act says about this duty.)

Making the new system work

There have been a number of factors that have disrupted and delayed a successful conclusion to the supervision schedule task.

  • Some boards and principals have not embraced the notion that this is now a shared responsibility between the principal and staff.
  • Some boards and principals believe that only the principal can truly determine and be trusted to decide the level of safety for students.
  • Some boards determined from the outset that they would not share any more authority with ETFO than they were compelled to.
  • In some boards, senior administrators were either unable or reluctant to assume their legislated responsibilities to provide clear and effective direction to school administrators.


Collective agreements prevail!

The 2004-2008 collective agreements provide clear direction for the steps to follow in creating school supervision schedules.

  • Step one:   The Joint Supervision Committee (JSC), composed of board officials and ETFO representatives, provides a set of clear guidelines to assist school committees. Unfortunately, not all locals were able to successfully complete this step with their board.
  • Step two:   The School Supervision Committee, made up of teachers and school  administrators,  develops  a  schedule  that  meets  the guidelines and legislated requirements.
  • Step three: The  school  committee  forwards  its  proposed  supervision schedule to the JSC for review and approval.
  • Step four:  The JSC forwards those schedules where agreement cannot be reached to the Provincial  Stability Commission for final and binding decision.
  • Step five:   The PSC works closely with school boards and ETFO locals to help reach a local decision wherever possible. The Commission will make a final binding decision on local failures.

Success is within reach!

Many school boards and ETFO locals are to be commended  for  their  positive  and  successful approaches to their legal responsibilities under the  Education Act the  Labou Relation Act, and their local collective agreements. They have clearly recognized the new regime of shared decision making and have reinforced certain principles with school administration and staff.

  • They have set clear guidelines and provided them to principals and school staff.
  • The principal and staff clearly recognize and accept the new shared responsibility to create supervision schedules.
  • The principal and staff clearly recognize that once the supervision schedule has received approval by the JSC, anchange to the schedule must have the approval of the School Supervision Committee and the JSC prior to enactment.

ETFO and its locals are committed to improv- ing  the  working  conditions  of  our  members. The 2004-2008 collective agreement had a significant impact for many of our members in the area of supervision. Future collective agreements will continue to reflect the principle of  members assuming more responsibility and decision making in determining their workload. School boards and principals must accept the fact that elementary  teachers  intend  to  have  a  larger part in determining their day-to-day duties and responsibilities. Nothing less is acceptable!

Clarifying the authority

To appreciate the revised administration of supervision time, you need to review current legislation and follow your local collective agreement. Here is what the legislation provides.


Section 264: Duties of teacher

It is the duty of a teacher and a temporary teacher,

(e)    to maintain, under the direction of the principal, proper order and discipline in the teacher’s classroom and while on duty in the school and on the school grounds;

(l)  to perform all duties assigned in accordance with this Act and the regulations;

Section 265: Duties of principal

It is the duty of a principal of a school, in addition to the principal’s duties as a teacher,

(a)    to maintain proper order and discipline in the school;

(b)   to develop cooperation and coordination of effort among the members of the staff of the school;


Regulation 298, Section 20: Duties of Teachers

In addition to the duties assigned to the teachers under the Act and by the board, a teacher shall,

(b)   carry out the supervisory duties and instructional program assigned to the teacher by the principal and supply such information related thereto as the principal may require;

(d)   unless otherwise assigned by the principal, be present in the classroom or teaching area and ensure that the classroom or teaching area is ready for the reception of pupils at least fifteen minutes before the commencement of classes in the school in the morning and, where applicable, five minutes before the commencement of classes in the school in the afternoon; …

(g)   ensure that all reasonable safety procedures are carried out in courses and activities for which the teacher is responsible;

Regulation 298, Section 11: Duties of Principals

The principal of a school, subject to the authority of the appropriate supervisory officer, is in charge of,

11 (1) (b)      the organization and management of the school.

11 (3)             In addition to the duties under the Act and those assigned by the board, the principal of a school shall, except where the principal has arranged otherwise under section 26 (3),

(e)     provide for the supervision of pupils during the period of time during each school day when the school buildings and playgrounds are open to pupils;

(f )   provide for the supervision of and the conducting of any school activity authorized by the board.