Ontario teachers concerned about effect larger class sizes will have on students

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Teachers concerned that increased class sizes will have a negative impact on students

In the wake of the Ontario government’s announcement of an increase in class sizes, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario says even a small rise will have an impact on students.

On Friday, Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced that classes in grades 4 through 8 across the province would average 24.5 students per classroom. The exact class sizes, however, are left up to the individual school boards.

Shirley Bell with the Kawartha Pine Ridge branch of ETFO says even two more students added to a class of 26 can have a negative impact on students.

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Larger classes, she says, mean a teacher has less time to spend with individual students.

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“It means those students don’t get the support outside of the classroom,” Bell said. “The government is then expecting teachers to support those students with one-on-one support when they have an increase in class size. And the reality is that’s not going to work.

“Those students are going to lose. They are not going to get what they need in the classroom.”

Bell noted that the government also cut autism funding for programs outside of school.

WATCH: Ontario government announces new funding support for students with autism

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Ontario government announces new funding support for students with autism

Under the proposed changes to education, secondary school students would be required to complete four e-learning courses before graduation, most likely taking one per year. Teachers say e-learning is fine and the school boards have many good e-learning teachers, but they are concerned about how the e-courses would be presented and students for whom e-learning is a struggle

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“It’s not a system that works for all students and some students need to see contact with a teacher every day to keep them on the rails, to keep them focused,” said Dave Warda with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

“And they need to learn with their peers in a classroom, so it’s not a program that’s going to be better for a lot of kids.”

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On Friday, Thompson said her government would “continue to look for better ways to improve student learning.”

“We will continue to adapt curriculum to address the needs of the modern world,” she said. “And we will continue to take responsibility for every dollar spent.”