The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development received the report from the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions today, April 28, and will immediately begin to act on the recommendations.
The council committed $9.3 million of its budget to hire at least 139 new teachers to implement its recommendations. This includes implementing a provincewide class cap of 28 students, with flexibility up to 30, for junior high/middle school and 30 students for high school, with flexibility up to 32, hiring additional teachers for a junior high/middle school pilot project to support math and literacy in classrooms that have high numbers of students with special needs and creating a pilot project to provide $50,000 grants to priority schools with the most complex classrooms.
The government will match the $1 million put forward by the council for the pilot project to provide grants to priority schools. Priority schools are defined as schools where provincial achievement results in literacy and math indicate additional support is required.
“These class caps, along with the actions the council is taking to address complex classes, will have a positive impact in our classrooms,” said Karen Casey, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “School boards will immediately begin the work to hire the teachers required to have these resources in place for September.”
In total, the council put forward 40 recommendations for the department, school boards, and itself as a council. Beyond those on class sizes and complex classrooms, recommendations affect assessment and evaluation, attendance, data collection and reporting, marking days, and technology and work processes.
“I want to thank the members of the council for their tremendous work. I know they have put a great deal of time and thought into addressing these complex issues,” said Ms. Casey. “Through this initial report, they have set an aggressive agenda and my department will work with them to achieve our shared goal of improving classrooms for teachers and students.”
Items announced in yesterday’s budget that positively impact the classroom include:
— $3.7 million to add 30 new pre-primary sites where early learning programming is offered to four-year-olds in schools, for a total of 38 across the province
— $1.8 million to connect more children and youth with community and mental health supports, for a total investment in SchoolsPlus of $8.2 million
— $1.4 million for additional school psychologists and speech-language pathologists
— $1.1 million to expand the school breakfast program through Nourish Nova Scotia to serve 5.5 million healthy, nutritious breakfasts across the province this year
— $1 million to double the investment in coding and computer skills initiatives for Primary to Grade 12 students
— $1.1 million to continue expanding the Reading Recovery Program to 73 more schools
The Council to Improve Classroom Conditions report is available online at www.novascotia.ca/classroomcouncil.