Letter to the Principal

A downloadable version of this letter is available in the following format:
(PDF – 120 kb)

Dear Principal:

A teacher from your school is registered in Census at School, an international project that engages students in learning about statistical enquiry and census taking.

Students from grades 4 to 12 anonymously fill out an online questionnaire about their lives and activities including their height, pets, and favourite school subject. Survey questions also address issues such as time use, nutrition and bullying. You can view the survey questions at www.censusatschool.ca.

The Census at School project began in the United Kingdom in 2000 and now includes Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States.  The Canadian component of Census at School is hosted by the Statistical Society of Canada.

After students have responded, their teacher can immediately download a spreadsheet of their class results. These are used to teach statistical concepts, measurement, data analysis and graphing and to explore social concepts. Students can compare their class data with Canadian results on the website or with random samples of responses from the international database. The project offers unlimited potential for comparisons and cross-curricular applications in mathematics, social sciences and information technology and helps develops skills in critical thinking, data management and computer literacy.

Census at School also helps raise students’ awareness of civic duty. They learn about the importance of the national census in providing, every five years, essential information for planning education, health, transportation and many other services. A letter can be sent to parents about their children’s Census at School project.  A copy of this letter can be downloaded under Teachers at www.censusatschool.ca.

To complete the online class survey, each student will need a 20-minute computer session. The teacher then selects topics from the class data for students to analyse. The suggested learning activities were designed by teachers for a wide range of teaching opportunities. Younger grades use the data to investigate a theme, make bar graphs and pie charts, study bias, and draw conclusions. Older students can compare datasets, examine a hypothesis, and explore relationships through scatter plots.

Student responses are added onto the Canadian database which is on a secure server controlled by the Statistical Society of Canada. It contains no identifiable information such as names, identification numbers or e-mail addresses. Only teachers have direct access to their own class’s results by means of a password.

From the public part of the website, students and teachers may also view Canadian summary tables or request random responses from Canada and other participating countries that would not identify any student, class or school.

For more information on privacy and confidentiality, please refer to the privacy page at www.censusatschool.ca.

Before students fill in the survey, we ask teachers to discuss Internet safety guidelines and to review those provided by your school policy or by Canada’s Media Awareness Network at www.mediasmarts.ca.

Your school’s participation is free and completely voluntary.

We hope that you will encourage all your staff and students to experience Census at School. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need more information.

Statistical Society of Canada