Social workers employed by school boards work with students, families, school staff and communities to support students to optimize their learning, achievement and well-being. They understand the many factors that influence a student’s life and behaviour, and work with students to support academic success and social adjustment.

In this field, social workers may help students deal with challenges like learning difficulties, low self-esteem, peer relations, sexuality, conflict with the law, substance abuse and conflict with parents. They may also plan events and activities to celebrate cultural diversity and promote cultural awareness among students, staff and families.

Helping students reach their potential

Social workers honour diversity and different ways of knowing. They build an inclusive and safe environment for students, caregivers, families and staff.

In schools, social workers help students build resilience, confidence and self-efficacy. They believe that every student is an individual who has the ability to learn, grow and solve problems. Working closely with students, teachers, caregivers, families and healthcare professionals, social workers build upon student strengths. They support students as they work toward their goals and help address barriers to education so students can reach their potential.

Role and responsibilities

Depending on the role, social workers in schools may:

  • Provide individual counselling and support for students
  • Provide family counselling and support to caregivers
  • Conduct support groups for students
  • Provide support to students and staff following a traumatic event
  • Develop and deliver education to caregivers, families and staff
  • Cultivate open communication between students, families and the school
  • Refer students, caregivers and families to community agencies and other supports
  • Plan and deliver specialized activities and events for students, families and staff
  • Develop and deliver community programming
  • Advocate on behalf of students, schools and the community, as required


Social workers working in schools must have:

  • Registration in good standing with the relevant provincial or territorial regulatory body
  • Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in social work from an accredited university

It is helpful for social workers in schools to have:

  • Counselling experience
  • Crisis intervention skills
  • Ability to demonstrate cultural competence and exhibit respect for diversity