Friday, March 12, 2010

Canadian schools got results with more teachers - Times Online

Read this article about class size caps. It's always interesting to read how other media view our system, just to get a different take from our own media outlets. To read the article from its original source, click here: Canadian schools got results with more teachers - Times Online.

Or read it below:

March 11, 2010

Canadian schools got results with more teachers

Smaller classes have succeeded in driving up standards in Canadian primary schools — but only with the recruitment of thousands of additional teachers.

A report on education policy in Ontario, which will encourage the SNP government, shows that the overwhelming majority of children, parents and teachers benefit when classes are reduced to 20 or fewer. However, the government is unlikely to be able to afford additional teachers.

Michael Russell, Scotland’s Education Secretary, yesterday emphasised the benefits outlined in the report at Holyrood’s education committee and insisted he believed that Scottish children could enjoy similar experiences. But he warned that teacher numbers, which have plummeted under the SNP, could decline even further.

The report, from the Canadian Education Association, states: “Nearly three quarters of the primary teachers reported that the quality of their relationships with students had improved as a result of the smaller class sizes, and two thirds said their students were more engaged in learning than before class size reduction.

“Primary teachers told the researchers that smaller primary classes gave them more time to help individual students experiencing learning difficulties and allowed them to carry out intensive, focused, teacher-guided activities effectively.”

The Primary Class Size (PCS) initiative was one of the Ontario Liberal Party’s provincial campaign promises in 2003. It was introduced over four years and funding was made available to support 1,200 new teachers each academic year between 2004-05 and 2007-08, and to secure new classrooms. In 2006, the Ministry of Education issued edicts to school districts requiring 100 per cent of all primary classes to have 23 or fewer students for the 2006-07 school year, and to be prepared for a cap of 20 or fewer students in at least 90 per cent of primary classes in 2007-08. By the following year, the Ontario government had met this and could also boast that all primary classes had 23 or fewer students.

The report, Reducing Class Sizes: What Do We Know? states that the scheme was run simultaneously with programmes to improve literacy and numeracy and in the wake of a change in curriculum. “Educators need to understand that policy initiatives do not occur on the ground as discrete events, but interact with other initiatives in operation at the same time,” it says.

Mr Russell told the committee that Scotland’s class size reduction was operating in tandem with other changes such as the Curriculum for Excellence.

The Canadian report concludes: “Educators and policymakers can take away from this report an understanding that primary class size reduction is an initiative worth undertaking, but that it must be undertaken thoughtfully and carefully. It is not a magic bullet.”

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