By LENNOX FARRELL
Apart from yourself as parent or guardian, no other official will have as profound an impact on your child’s future as will a teacher. And the teacher’s expectations, low or high, for your child. These expectations will either trump the potential inherent in the school curriculum, or fulfill it.
Because of teacher expectations in some regions, while a Black child could not fail Phys Ed., they also could not pass Physics. And one area in which teachers’ expectations are officially recorded is on your child’s Ontario Student Record (OSR).
Under the Provincial Act governing Freedom of Information, access to an OSR is limited but, as with any official document, there are loopholes. So, “except in certain circumstances … (and as) defined in the legislation … (it is left) up to the head of an institution to decide whether or not to grant access…”
Think of the OSR as a kind of educational credit card. In the same way that persons of interest can have access to your credit record, so too, under the Freedom of Information Act it might be possible for others have access to a student’s school record in Ontario. Could access be available later to employers, to police, to Children’s Aid workers?
Therefore, in the same way that one should be diligent in ensuring what is placed on their credit record is accurate, and cannot inadvertently or maliciously hurt them, so, too, should one also ensure that what is placed on a student’s record is accurate.
But what is the Ontario Student Record? It is “the record of a student’s educational progress through schools in Ontario.” See the full details at:
It could also include information on the child’s health, transfers, suspensions, etc.
The following is a very brief summary, and is selected to encourage parents, guardians, students and others to be aware of this document and of the possible impact for good and/or ill it can have on a student’s future. It is also selected to show how and why one should access these records, and be fully knowledgeable about its contents.
There are other immediate benefits in that principals and teachers, aware of a parent’s interest in accessing their child’s OSR, might also be more positive, objective and accurate regarding what they place in your child’s record. While teachers and principals are for the most part careful, a parent’s interest can further spur them to push better up to best.
So, what are some elemental facts about your child’s OSR?
“An OSR (according to the Act) will be established for each student who enrolls in a school operated by a school board or the Ministry of Education. … be conducive to the improvement of the instruction of the student … (and that) each student and the parent(s) of a student who is not an adult must be informed of the purpose and content of the OSR at the time of enrolment.”
The challenge is that with enrolling dozens of students at the beginning of each school year, sometimes the significance and details of your child’s OSR might be overlooked by you and/or by the person who is doing the enrolling as authorized by the school. Can your lack of interest and/or knowledge have unexpected impact and influence on your child’s progress in school, and after they leave school?
In addition to the possibility that your child’s OSR can be accidently erased – they are maintained electronically – is that hard copies are, according to the Act, to be retained on paper that is durable. This means that for at least five years after a student has graduated these records are kept.
There might be other stipulations. Among these is that while a parent has the right of access to these, I am not certain when, and under what circumstances. However, any parent seeing a teacher or principal on this or on other matters is advised to: a) review the child’s notes and teacher’s suggestions in advance; b) carry themselves with dignity and poise; c) ask pertinent and positive questions; d) take notes with dates for future follow-ups; e) be civil; f) and, being truthful, emphasize the child’s good points.
For more information see the attached: www.cafemom.com/group/41/forums/read/11824822/How_to_Meet_Your_Childs_Teacher.
In the teacher’s presence, remind the child, too, of your family’s high standards and expectations for him/her.
Finally, remember the name of the game when meeting with school officials is to always improve and maintain on their part and on the part of your child, high academic and attitude expectations for your child’s future! Also, the better the parent-teacher communication, the better, too, will be the teacher-student relationship, thus assuring your child of more success in school, and later in life.
Lennox Farrell taught high school for three decades in Toronto and in 1993 was honoured as Teacher of the year in Ontario.