Student Representation Across Canada

The Student Representation Across Canada report assesses the status of mandated student representation on school boards across Canada, outlines the role, purpose, and history of student trustees and provides recommendations to provinces and school boards on improving the inclusion of student voice in provincial and local decision-making.

School boards in Ontario serve as crucial governing bodies that shape public education at a local and provincial and set priorities for student achievement and well-being. Creating student representation on school boards allows for the structural uplifting of student voices within a governance structure created to serve them, as reflected through an educational reform made in 1999 by the Ministry of Education that mandated the position of student trustee: student trustees sit on their school board’s board of trustees to represent student voice and provide input to school trustees and senior administration. This position has been amplifying student voice in Ontario on 76 school boards for the past 20 years and counting, with student trustees advocating for student directly to their school board on behalf of the primary stakeholders of the education system: the students.

Currently, Ontario and Nunavut mandate student representation at the school board level in their provincial or territorial legislation. Additionally, Ontario is the only province or territory with an incorporated association of student trustees that serves as an official stakeholder to the provincial government. If all provinces and territories in Canada mandate a student representative position in school boards, student voice can be enshrined within boards’ governance structures and heard at the same level from coast to coast.