More than 500 new teachers, over 400 new special education assistants and smaller class sizes are the direct result of a new learning fund getting high marks for supporting education in B.C.
Brought in by government a year ago, the first report card on the $195-million Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) shows that the fund is making a real difference. School districts have been able to hire additional teachers and special education assistants; provide additional teaching time; and support professional development and training to help teachers meet complex needs in their classrooms - all of which benefits students.
In addition, the LIF is building on the work of school districts over the past few years in reducing class size. This year, of the 67,089 classrooms in public schools throughout the province, only 1,363 classrooms in grades 4-12 have more than 30 students - more than one-third of which are physical education and fine arts classes. These include drama, band, and other classes where there are often benefits to larger student numbers. Compared to 9,253 in 2005-06 - this represents a decrease of almost 85 per cent.
The exact use of LIF funding is determined through consultations between school districts, principals and classroom teachers. This allows the schools to tailor the supports to the unique needs of each classroom.
The first $60 million in LIF funding was allocated to school districts this past fall. All 60 school districts received funding. Every one of B.C.'s 1,600 public schools has benefited from this year's allocation:
- About 516 new teachers were hired with $36.8 million of the funding.
- Special needs students were supported with $17.3 million because over 7,400 special education assistants had their hours increased and 406 new special education assistants were hired.
- Additional teacher professional development was supported with $1.8 million.
- 98 per cent of kindergarten-to-Grade 12 classes have fewer than 30 students.
- 100 per cent of kindergarten classes have 22 or fewer students.
- 100 per cent of grades 1-to-3 classes have 24 or fewer students.
Don McRae, Minister of Education -
"The Learning Improvement Fund is already an education success story. It is having a positive impact on student learning and class size and supporting teachers - and at the same time, helping districts address the complex needs of today's classrooms."
- A further $3.8 million of this year's $60 million allocation is being held in reserve to be used during the school year to help students with diagnosed special needs that are entitled to an Individual Education Plan based on an assessment. This includes the full spectrum of students from the learning disabled student through to the medically fragile. The support offered these students in classrooms has the effect of benefiting all students in the class.
- Another $60 million will flow to school districts in 2013-14, $75 million in 2014-15 and each year thereafter as part of Budget 2012.
BC's Education Plan: http://www.bcedplan.ca/
Class size statistics: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/reporting/
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education