Volunteering at School

Volunteering at School

Many members volunteer in classroom settings with the hope that volunteer work will improve their chances for full-time, permanent contracts or long-term occasional work.

This could be a professional liability.  Whether your volunteer activity involves contact with students, parents, colleagues or other members of the school community, you are at risk of being subject to complaints about your conduct.  The distinction between your paid and unpaid work may not be understood by other members of the school community.  They will expect the same level of professionalism regardless of the duties you perform; it is likely the OCT will also share the same view.

The protections and entitlements negotiated for ETFO members generally only apply to paid positions, not to volunteer activities.  Be aware that you are not covered for issues arising during volunteer activities outside your professional obligations.

Working for no pay is not something ETFO views to be in a member’s best interest.  Your professional services are valuable to the employer and the education community.  Work should be compensated.


  • Volunteering in a school setting is by choice and members should not be coerced or pressured by promises of full-time work.
  • There should be a formal written plan in place clarifying the scope of your volunteer role.
  • The hours of the volunteer work should be formalized.
  • If you are not being paid as an Occasional Teacher, you should not be taking on the responsibilities of the Teacher.  The classroom Teacher must have all responsibility for planning, supervision, discipline, assessment, communications with parents, and teaching.
  • All parties should be aware of the limitations you have in your volunteer capacity:  this includes staff colleagues, students, and parents.  It must be clear that you are attending in a volunteer capacity.
  • Continue to conduct yourself professionally.  Maintain boundaries and professional work habits.  Maintain positive, professional relationships with staff.
  • Minimize your involvement in activities that will expose you to risk of injury or liability for which you have limited or no coverage.
  • Be sure to notify the school administration when participating in a field trip or event outside your paid assignment.