The P.E.I. Teachers' Federation is surprised to have learned through the media about provincial government plans to cut 120 education and teaching positions.

'With this announcement we will have a hard time maintaining the gains that we have made.'— Gilles Arsenault, P.E.I. Teachers' Federation

The positions will be cut over the next three years.

"To be honest we were shocked and we were surprised to hear that," said federation president Gilles Arsenault.

"We don't have a whole lot of information."

Arsenault said he confirmed the numbers Wednesday with government. There is no question the loss of the positions will have a negative impact on Island students, he said, and on student assessment scores.

"As you know the scores on the assessments have improved significantly at the K to 3 levels, and these results have a direct correlation with maintaining the [positions]," said Arsenault.

"The plan was to have the same impact with the grades 4 to 12. And now with this announcement we will have a hard time maintaining the gains that we have made even at the lower levels, let alone improving the higher grades."

Arsenault has asked for a meeting with the minister as soon as possible to find out more details, and how these cuts will roll out.

Government officials said the 120 jobs are not just teaching positions. They include staff from the department, the school boards and teaching support staff.

They said most of the positions would be eliminated through attrition over the next three years.