More classrooms and teachers have been added in B.C. for the current school year. (Black Press files)

Class sizes down, special needs up, BCTF says

A third of B.C. school districts don’t have class composition rules

The number of B.C. public school classrooms with more than 30 students has declined this year, with the addition of more than 3,500 teachers to meet the terms of last year’s court decision restoring limits to the teacher’s union contract.

But the number of classes with four or more students identified as having special needs is up slightly over the last school year.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation used the education ministry’s statistics to check progress. They show that the number of classes with 30 or more students dropped by 45 per cent, from 1,385 to 757 compared to the last school year. The B.C. government’s increase in funding added an additional 4,300 more classrooms to the system.

The number of classrooms with four children with special needs rose just under one per cent, to 17,466 classes. But because of the additional classes, the percentage dealing with four or more special needs students is lower. The number of classes with seven or more special needs students fell by 17 per cent.

“Class composition is more complex because of differences in local collective agreement language as well as district student assessment and staffing processes,” said BCTF president Glen Hansman. “For example, about a third of our local teachers’ associations don’t have any class composition language.”

On class sizes, from last school year to the current one, the average Kindergarten class size declined from 19.1 to 17.8 students. Similar decreases were recorded in the later grades, about one fewer student per class across the board.

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