Every Student Counts – PVNC Catholic 2021 Student Census

A logo depicting the Every Student Counts Student Census


Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington (PVNC) Catholic District School Board is committed to better understanding the backgrounds and experiences of all our students, and creating an environment where everyone feels valued and belongs. As a demonstration of this commitment, PVNC Catholic administered its first identity-based student survey: Every Student Counts in 2021 to gather information about our students and their lived experiences.

The Every Student Counts survey supports well-intentioned leadership directives which affirm that diversity and belonging are moral and ethical imperatives, specifically the Ensuring Equity and Valuing Relationship pillars of the Board’s  Multi-year Strategic Plan, the Anti-Racism Act, 2017 and Ontario’s Educati​on Equity Action Plan strategy for identifying and eliminating discriminatory practices, barriers, and biases from schools and classrooms.


The Every Student Counts data will help the Board to better provide opportunities, programs and initiatives that impact students’ achievement and sense of belonging by:

  • providing more personalized and precise programming
  • reducing disadvantages faced by equity deserving students
  • understanding which identified populations may require new or differentiated approaches in order to more fully succeed in our system
  • identifying and eliminating discriminatory practices, systemic barriers and bias in order to ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes


The PVNC Catholic student identity-based survey was administered from Oct. 1, 2021 to Oct. 25, 2021.  All questions on this anonymous survey were optional, and individual results remain confidential. Two substantially identical surveys were administered to parents of grades 1 – 8 child(ren) and grades 9 – 12  students. Over 3,600 people participated in the survey, representing an overall 24% response rate. 

Full Report

The Every Student Counts full report can be found here. 

Key findings from the student survey include individual student answers (grades 9-12 and parent responses on behalf of students in grades 1-8). The findings revealed that our school population is fairly diverse.

  • Our students speak more than 35 languages. 94% of respondents reported English as their first language. French, American Sign Language, Spanish and Tagalog follow as the most prevalent spoken languages in our Board.
  • 78% of our students identified as white and 21% as non-white. When disaggregated, of the 21% of our non-white students, 6% identified as black, about 5% identified as First Nations, Métis or Inuit and 4% identified as Southeast Asian. 
  • The survey shows that the majority of our student population identified as Catholic, 52%, 14% indicating Christian – non-Catholic and 8% reported they are spiritual but not religious.
  • 46% of students reported an identity of boy/man, 51% identified as girl/woman and 3% of our respondents are gender non-conforming.  
  • 76% of students identified as straight / heterosexual and 11% of respondents identified as a member of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. 
  • A total of 11% of respondents identified as a person with a disability, with the most common responses being learning disabilities, mental health and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Further analysis of the disaggregated data provided greater insights into students’ sense of inclusion and belonging. 

  • When asked if they have experienced discrimination at school, students reported, always, often or sometimes, being discriminated against because of their race, 5%; gender identity, 4%; sexual orientation, 5%; ethnic origin, 4%; and disability, 5%.
  • 16% of students who are racialized and 17% of students identifying as 2SLGQQIA+ stated they are rarely or never able to express their identity. 
  • Between 9% and 11% percent of students who are racialized, members of 2SLGQQIA+  and of other equity deserving groups indicated rarely or never seeing themselves positively represented at school. For the purpose of this student survey, representation included images (posters, pictures, murals), learning materials (books, videos, internet, content), lessons, staff, issues discussed in the classroom, events and celebrations and extra-curricular activities. 
  • Students revealed that they do not always have the opportunity to learn about authors, characters, scientists, and historical figures from diverse identities. As reported, the most underrepresented groups are individuals of  gender non-conforming identities, non-hetereonormative identities, socio-economic status, disability, and ethnic origin. 

Using the student survey data to support student achievement and well-being

We sincerely thank all parents/guardians and students who took time to complete the Every Student Counts survey. Your voice is so crucial to our goals.

Since launching this student survey in Fall 2021, the data has had immediate impact, as it demonstrated for us the clearest picture to date of some of the obstacles and challenges facing our students for a variety of reasons including race, gender identity and accessibility.

The result from the student survey has deepened PVNC’s commitment to inclusive practices in education. PVNC has relied on the findings to:

  • Inform our 2022-2023 Catholic Board Improvement Plan For Student Achievement & Well Being (CBIPSAW) through the creation of an equity goal for each pillar. This student data is currently driving much of our equity work in key areas.
  • Recruit and hire an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor.
  • Revise policies from an equity lens 
  • Invest an estimated $50,000 in learning materials to increase exposure to authors, characters, scientists, historical figures of diverse identities, and to create greater opportunities for students to learn about identities with which they do not identify. 
  • Conduct training with staff on unconscious bias, anti-racism and anti-oppression.
  • Conduct the Board’s first staff demographic survey in November 2022.
  • Hold equity walks in elementary and secondary schools to ensure students can see themselves reflected in the learning environment and school resources. 

Next steps 

As we build on the success of the 2021 student survey, we will be:

  • Creating programming for students of diverse races, up to and including the Black Student Association, Black Employee Network and Allies, and Parents of Black, African and Caribbean Ancestry Network.
  • Preparing for the next launch of the Every Student Counts Student Survey.
  • Developing the Board’s first Equity Action Plan.
  • Developing an anti-racism and anti-oppression impact assessment framework.