Ford gov't lifting class cap sizes, allowing parents to opt out of new sex-ed curriculum
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is lifting the caps on class sizes in elementary and high schools across the province, returning to a system of averages.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced Friday that while class sizes from kindergarten to Grade 3 would remain capped at their current levels, capacity in Grades 4 to 12 will be increased.
The biggest change will be felt in high school classrooms, where sizes will be increased from 22 students per teacher to 28 students. It will be up to school boards to maintain the average class size of 28 students.
Intermediate grades would also see an increase in class sizes from the current cap of 24.5 to an average of 24 – meaning some classes could have upwards of 30 students depending on the catchment area.
The ministry also warns as a result of the changes, funding for school operations “would also be adjusted.”
While increasing class sizes could lead to fewer teachers in the secondary education system, the government says the changes will be phased in with “attrition protection.”
The changes will be introduced in the next school year.
The education minister also announced gender identity and consent will be taught as part of a new sexual education curriculum that will be introduced to schools by the fall.
The curriculum will replace an interim teaching plan based on 1998 materials that was put in place last year after the Progressive Conservatives repealed a 2015 curriculum from the previous Liberal government.
The 2015 curriculum addressed consent, online bullying, sexting, same-sex relationships and gender identity.
The province previously held an online consultation on the issue and an overwhelming majority of those who weighed in through that forum in the first day opposed the decision to scrap the 2015 curriculum.
The province says parents will still be able to opt out of having their kids exposed to certain topics in the sex-ed class, and the ministry will issue online modules for those who want guidance on discussing those topics at home.
The government also announced a new math curriculum for all grades that will be phased in over four years. It will focus on basic concepts and skills, with the first changes come into effect in the fall.
The province is also revising teacher hiring practices and banning cellphones in classrooms.
The full curriculum is expected to be released in May and implemented in September.
— with files from The Canadian Press