Hamilton’s secondary school classrooms are “full to capacity” and leading to increased stress for both teachers and students, according to leaders of local teachers’ unions.
Speaking on Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show, Daryl Jerome, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) District 21 president, said provincial cuts have led to an increase in “stacked classes”, with teachers having to instruct multiple grades and curriculums in one period.
“Double-stacked (classes) are not incredibly uncommon,” said Jerome. “But what we’re finding this year is a lot more triple-stacked, and I won’t speak to the details, but there are a number of classes that are being run as ‘quad-stacked’. So you’ve got grade nines, tens, elevens, and twelves all within the same period. Similar subject area … but different curriculums.
“It’s difficult for the children, for the students, and that seems to go without saying — there’s a different maturity level, skill level, etc. It’s also incredibly challenging for my members who have to maneuver four grades in the same period. To say it’s stressful is an understatement.”
Students who want to take certain courses, or need to take courses for their chosen career path, are also being met with cancelled classes because there aren’t enough students signed up to those classes.
“So what you’ve got are classes that are running at max,” said Jerome. “And students are being forced to take courses that they normally wouldn’t take. That either they have no interest in, or it just doesn’t help them on their pathway out of secondary.”
He said the union is concerned about what will happen in subsequent years if the province doesn’t address the changes.
The press secretary for Minister of Education Stephen Lecce told Global News in an email that class sizes are remaining effectively the same as last year, and that “what we are seeing in some schools now happens at the beginning of every school year”.
Lecce’s spokesperson also said the “readjusting of timetables in September allow school boards and schools to work through these changes.”
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Jerome disagreed with the assessment that the situation is the same as it has been in previous years, saying the first couple weeks of school are often a bit hectic, but that this year has been far worse than previous years.
“When the minister says that everything is properly funded and there won’t be any effects on the kids or the classes, it’s absolutely false,” said Jerome. “And you can see it across the province. We’re not alone in this.”
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