Collecting personal information

MFIPPA protects privacy by setting rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.  In this guide, we consider these three topics, beginning with the rules for how school boards collect personal information.

What types of personal information do school boards collect?

School boards collect personal information that falls into one of two main categories:

  • information that forms part of the Ontario Student Record (OSR)
  • information that does not form part of the OSR


The Ontario Student Record (OSR)

The OSR is an ongoing record of a student’s progress through the school system in Ontario. All public and separate school boards are required to create an OSR for each student. Other schools, including private and First Nations schools, may choose to create OSRs.4 Any school that establishes OSRs for its students must do so in accordance with the Ministry of Education’s Ontario Student Record (OSR) Guideline, 2000 (the OSR Guideline).

The OSR Guideline identifies the types of records that are to be contained in a student’s OSR, such as:

  • an OSR folder containing information such as:
    • biographical data
    • schools attended
    • names of parents
    • special health information
  • student report cards
  • an Ontario Student Transcript, where applicable
  • a documentation file with additional information, such as custody orders or special education records
  • an office index card with basic information such as student name, contact information and enrollment dates5
  • other information identified by the principal as “conducive to the improvement of the instruction of the student”

School boards must keep student records confidential.6 They may only be disclosed in specific situations described in the Education Act or MFIPPA. An OSR follows a student when he or she transfers to another elementary or secondary school in Ontario (see What happens to the OSR when a student changes schools?).


Other information collected by school boards

School boards may also collect other types of personal information which are not part of the OSR such as:

  • permission slips to attend field trips
  • class lists
  • records of marks for tests and assignments
  • photographs of students with their names
  • honour roll status
  • some types of progressive discipline records

There may be some overlap between the nature of the information kept as part of the OSR and outside of it. For example, daily attendance records are generally not filed in the OSR, but a summary of attendance is included in report cards, which form part of the OSR. This guide highlights the distinction between OSR and non-OSR records to explain the different legal rules that apply specifically to the OSR.


4 Ontario Student Record (OSR) Guideline, 2000, s. 1

5 The office index card, while a component of the OSR, is not filed in the OSR folder and is not transferred with the OSR when the student moves on to a new school.

6 Education Act, ss. 266(2) and 266(10); MFIPPA, s. 32. OSRs may only be disclosed in specific situations described in section 266 of the Education Act or section 32 of MFIPPA.

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