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Today the Ministry of Education issued a news release misleadingly headlined: “New report shows classes still smaller.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

“This release offers nothing more than numbers taken entirely out of context. It’s highly manipulative of statistics that have a real impact in terms of children’s learning conditions across BC,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert.

“In Vancouver, some schools are reporting up to 30% of classes in violation of the government’s own legislated class size and composition limits. In Langley, 735 out of 2,352 classes are either over 30 and/or have three or more students with special needs. In other words, about 31% of all Langley classes are in violation of the limits.”

The ministry reports that 3,627 classes have more than 30 students, but it fails to report that this is an increase of 12.3% over last year’s total of 3,229 oversized classes (see charts below).

The average class sizes both at the Kindergarten level and in secondary schools have gone up:

  • This year the average Kindergarten class size is 18.3 students, up from 17.8 last year.
  • This year the average size of classes in Grades 8 through 12 is 25.1, up from 24.8 last year.

Lambert noted that, in fact, the Kindergarten and secondary school class sizes are higher now than at any time in the last five years. 

Perhaps more distressing news to teachers and parents will be the dramatic increase in the number of classes with more than three students with special needs. The legislation stipulates that no class should have more than three students whose special needs require them to have an Individual Education Plan. However, this year’s report shows that 12,240 classes have four or more students with IEPs. This represents 18.9% of all classes in the province.

“How can these numbers possibly justify that headline?” Lambert asked. “It’s extremely distressing to see the ministry spinning a story that is so fundamentally at odds with the difficult reality in large and complex classroom situations throughout BC.”

Lambert called on the provincial government to restore the class size and composition limits that were stripped from the teachers’ collective agreement and to rehire the roughly 1,300 learning specialist teachers lost to the system.

Province-wide class-size averages

 

Kindergarten 

Grade 1–3 

Grade 4–7 

Grade 8–12 

2010–11

18.3

20.7

25.9

25.1

2009–10

17.8

20.7

26.0

24.8

2008–09

17.7

20.6

25.8

24.4

2007–08

17.4

20.4

25.8

24.4

2006–07

17.5

20.3

25.8

24.4

2005–06

17.7

20.8

26.3

25.0

 Provincial class-size and composition data

 

Classes having   more than  three students with IEPs 

% of total classes in BC  

Classes having more than 30 students 

% of total classes in BC 

Total number of classes BC-wide 

2010–11

12,240

18.9

3,627

5.6

64,909

2009–10

11,959

17.7

3,229

4.8

67,473

2008–09

10,985

16.1

3,336

4.9

68,357

2007–08

10,313

15.0

3,179

4.6

68,693

2006–07

9,559

13.9

3,257

4.7

68,665

2005–06

10,942

16.2

9,253

13.7

67,499

Source: Ministry of Education website: www.bced.gov.bc.ca/reporting/ 

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For more information, contact Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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