Code of Conduct

School Code of Conduct

Establishing a Code of Conduct in Your School


“While there is no question that British Columbia faces a serious problem with bullying, harassment and intimidation in its school system, there are many signs that suggest we have a great opportunity to address the problem. Acceptance and acknowledgement is key. Once our school and communities face their fears and accept responsibility for these problems, we can find ways to make our schools safer….”

– Facing Our Fears – Accepting Our Responsibility

Report of the Safe Schools Task Force (June 11, 2003)


Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools: A Guide describes the vision for schools toward which Boards of Education, schools and school communities across British Columbia must continually strive. The guide provides provincial standard for codes of conduct, and identifies attributes of safe, caring and orderly schools.

Section Two of the Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools: A Guide reminds us that Boards of Education and schools are entrusted through the School Act with authority to establish codes of conduct. Although most schools have codes of conduct in place, a recent survey indicates that about one third of B.C schools do not have codes of conduct that meet provincial standards.

In the School Act Section 85 (2) (c): …a board may, subject to this Act and the regulations, do all or any of
the following:

(c) make rules –

(i) establishing a code of conduct for students attending educational programs operated by or on
behalf of the board.

On March 30, 2007, Provincial Education Minister Shirley Bond announced that schools would be required to set codes of conduct that meet province-wide standards under a bill introduced, Thursday, March 29, 2007, that is intended to reduce bullying and harassment. The Education Minister states, “Codes of conduct clearly outline expectations within a school and that will include consequences for behaviour in society. We’re looking at trying to set up a framework for behaviour that is appropriate.”



Below are standards for the development of codes of conduct. The standards outline elements that should, at a minimum, be incorporated in all codes of conduct in British Columbia schools. The ministry encourages Boards of Education and schools to review existing codes and/or develop new codes or conduct in light of these provincial standards and the unique requirements and characteristics of the communities they serve.

The Standards include:

  1. All British Columbia schools include students, parents, and staff in the development and review of codes of conduct.
  2. Expectations regarding acceptable conduct are made known to all students, parents, and school staff, as well as to temporary staff or visitors. Protocols while acting as ambassadors of the schools also are made known to students, parents, coaches, and involved members of the great community.
  3. Behavioural expectations outlined in codes of conduct are consistently taught and actively promoted. Responses to unacceptable behaviour are based consistently on sound principles and are appropriate to the context.
  4. Conduct is continuously monitored to ensure codes reflect current and emerging situations and are contributing to school safety.
  5. Codes of conduct are reviewed and improved in light of evidence gathered and/or relevant research, and are revisited as part of a regular cycle of policy review.
  6. Codes of conduct are compatible between schools in the community and across elementary, middle and secondary levels.
  7. At a minimum, codes of conduct contain the following elements:

a. Statement of Purpose – one or more statements that provide a rationale for the code of conduct in reference to the BC Human Rights Code. For example:

X Elementary School promotes the values expressed in the BC Human Rights Code respecting the rights of all individuals in accordance with the law – prohibiting discrimination based on race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, sex or sexual orientation – in respect of discriminatory publication and discrimination in accommodation, service and facility in the school environment.

b. Conduct Expectations

Acceptable conduct – one or more statements that convey clearly and concisely that expectations apply to behaviour at school, during school-organized or sponsored activities, and behaviour beyond these times (including on-line behaviour) that negatively impacts the safe, caring or orderly environment of the school, and/or student learning. For example:

  • Respecting self, others and the school.
  • Helping to make the school a safe, caring and orderly place.
  • Informing a “tellable” adult, in a timely manner (in advance, if possible) of incidents of bullying, harassment or intimidation.
  • Engaging in purposeful learning activities in a timely manner.
  • Acting in a manner that brings credit to the school.

Unacceptable conduct – one or more statements that convey clearly and concisely what is considered to be unacceptable conduct. As well, it should be clear that the school will treat seriously behaviour or communication that discriminates based on race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex or sexual orientation (prohibited grounds set out in the BC Human Rights Code). For example:

  • Behaviours that:
    • Interfere with the learning of others
    • Interfere with an orderly environment
    • Create unsafe conditions
  • Acts of:
    • Bullying, harassment or intimidation
    • Physical violence
    • Retribution against a person who has reported incidents
  • Illegal acts, such as:
    • Possession, use or distribution of illegal or restricted substances
    • Possession or use of weapons
    • Theft of or damage to property

Rising expectations – one or more statements that outline a progression of expectations held for students as they become older, more mature and move through successive grades. For example:

  • Increasing personal responsibility and self-discipline
  • Increasing consequences for inappropriate behaviour

c. Consequences – one or more statements to explain the severity and frequency of unacceptable conduct as well as the age and maturity of students is considered in determining appropriate disciplinary action. For example:

  • Responses to unacceptable conduct are pre-planned, consistent and fair.
  • Disciplinary action, wherever possible, is preventative and restorative, rather than merely punitive.
  • Students, as often as possible, are encouraged to participate in the development of meaningful consequences for violations of the established code of conduct.

d. Notification – one or more statements to explain that school officials may have a responsibility to advise other parties of serious breaches of the code of conduct. For example:

  • Parents of student offender (s) – in every instance
  • Parents of student victim(s) – in every instance
  • School district officials – as required by school district policy
  • Police and/or other agencies – as required by law
  • All parents – when deemed to be important to assure members of the school community that school officials are aware of a serious situation or incident and are taking appropriate action to address it.


*Taken from the British Columbia Ministry of Education. Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools – A Guide (March, 2004)

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