Is the Ford government’s plan to increase high school class sizes really going lead to better-prepared students?
Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson told CBC radio’s Metro Morning the decision would benefit students across the province by making them more resilient.
“By increasing class sizes in high school, we’re preparing them for the reality of post-secondary as well as the world of work,” said Thompson.
“When students are currently preparing to go off to post-secondary education were hearing from professors and employers alike that students are lacking resiliency and lacking coping skills.”
Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, also spoke to Metro Morning and said the cap of 28 will only be an average and many classes could have up to 40 students.
The Toronto District School Board said the changes could lead to a loss of as many as 800 teaching positions in high schools.
Katherine Yu an English teacher at Oshawa’s Maxwell Heights Secondary School says the change will lead to more students falling through the cracks.
“A lot of students have learning modifications or individual education plans and they need more help than others. It’s already tough the way it is to cater to every learner and increasing the number of students to 28 will only stretch a teachers attention thin,” said Yu.
Yu doesn’t think class sizes have anything to do with how prepared high school students are for post-secondary studies. Instead, she said students should focus on ways to be less distracted and meet expectations.
“Work hard meet your deadlines and get things done on time. Teachers don’t assign work and have expectations because we want to it’s because we’re preparing you for the real world,” said Yu. “Ask for feedback and challenge yourself.”
Adam Deluca a first year radio broadcasting student at Humber College says he benefited from having smaller class sizes in high school and believes future students would as well.
“I came from a high school where we had about eight to 12 students per class and personally that really helped me succeed. The smaller structure gave me much more one on one time with teachers, helped me focus better as there were less distractions and held me more accountable,” said Deluca.
University of Guelph-Humber media studies professor Jamie Killingsworth says most students would prefer smaller classes but it’s tough to compare high school to university.
“Smaller is better there is no question about that I’ve never studied it in depth but I do think I get better results in a tutorial setting,” said Killingsworth. “When you make classes bigger you’re creating a greater distance between you and the students.”
Killingsworth says there is a healthy discussion to be had on how much Ontario can fund for class sizes, but believes the government would have been better off being more honest.
“Had the Ford government just been upfront about the fact that this is about the allocation of resources, I think people could relate to that and understand it better,” said Killingsworth.