As students prepare to return to classrooms in September, the province is promising average high school class sizes will be smaller than first anticipated.
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is filing regulations to limit the average size of a classroom to 22.5 students per teacher.
However, because this number is an average, some class sizes in high schools could be much larger. Union leaders have previously warned that as many as 30 students could be packed into an Ontario high school classroom.
In an attempt to cut down the education budget, Premier Doug Ford’s government announced back in March that class sizes between Grade 4 and Grade 12 would be expanded over the next four years.
But, government sources caution the class size policy will not be changed – meaning high school class averages will still increase to 28 over the next four years.
The Ontario government announced on Thursday an additional half student per class will be added to Grade 9 to 12 classrooms, for an average of approximately 22.5 students provincially in the 2019 school year.
Average class sizes for Grades 4 to 8 will increase from 23 to 24 students starting in the 2019 school year.
No changes will be made to the class size requirements for students in junior Kindergarten to Grade 3.
"I am determined to put our students first and listen to those we serve," Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement. “Today I want to reassure students and their families that this September class sizes will remain effectively the same as last year."
"From day one, I have made it clear that I was intent on listening to, and working with, our education sector partners. Our mission remains to land a deal in good faith, that puts our students first, so parents and educators can have the predictability they deserve."
Meanwhile, the NDP have blasted the Ford government’s implementation of a classroom size policy.
“When Doug Ford revealed a plan to hike average class sizes and cut teachers, that’s when schools, school boards and students had to undertake the monumental task of redoing course offerings and student timetables for thousands of students,” NDP education critic Marit Stiles said. “Mr. Ford knows darn well that all that work can’t be redone in the next 10 days.”
“Mr. Lecce and Mr. Ford want to dodge the criticism they’re getting for this horrific cut to our children’s schools. But, yet again they’re using kids as political pawns.”