Jim Grieve, Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Education, has issued a memorandum, 2010: EL4 dated March 5, 2010, to board Directors of Education providing school Boards with information about calculating class size under the Early Learning Program (ELP).
While the meaning of much in the memorandum is not entirely clear to us, it does raise some interesting questions for which answers are not immediately apparent. Please keep in mind that ELP is for children of junior and senior kindergarten age – 3.8 to 5. Specifically (in order in which the points are raised in the memo):
- The class size regulation changes have "an automatic sunset provision that comes into force on September 1, 2012". What will happen after that?
- Boards should "conform closely to an average full-day JK/K class size of 26". This is vague and raises the possibility that some classes will have more than 26 children. The class size is not capped at 26 so presumably a board could have classes with in excess of 13 children to each adult and still maintain the average. Is it possible that going above the average of 26:2 would help schools manage the Phase One implementation deficits we understand they are expecting to experience?
- There does not appear to be a provision for replacement of staff temporarily absent in the school-day portion. For example, what will happen during prep time for certified teachers and registered early childhood educators? Is it possible that a class size could conceivably be 26:1 for periods in the day? Consider that the existing Day Nurseries Act regulated adult child ratio for junior kindergarten children is 1 to 10 with a maximum group size of 20.
- The memorandum states "These class size calculations apply to the ELP's school-day portion; the intent is not to apply to the extended day." Under proposed Bill 242, children in the extended day childcare program are considered pupils under the Education Act and therefore not governed by adult to child ratios specified in the Day Nurseries Act. It is not yet clear what adult to child ratios will apply to children enrolled in the before and after school portion of the ELP.