Teachers hired to help with Island immigration influx

The Department of Education says that 34 of the 41 announced educators have been hired and are now working in P.E.I. schools to help with this year's increased number of students.

'To ensure that we have the staffing here to meet the needs of immigrants and of locals students'

Two new teachers were hired in Spring Park Elementary School since the school year began. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The Department of Education says that 34 of the 41 announced educators have been hired and are now working in P.E.I. schools to help with this year's increased number of students.

They are currently in the process of hiring three more teachers and four more educational assistants.

Spring Park Elementary School was one of the schools to have around 50 more students enrolled in September than expected.

They have hired two new full-time teachers at the school, with extra English as a second language (EAL) and teaching assistants splitting their time between Charlottetown-area schools.

Hard for new students to adjust

Spring Park principal Terry MacIsaac says the extra staff is providing much needed support to students now.

He also said it was difficult in September when the school was trying to help all of the new immigrant students get adjusted.

Spring Park principal Terry MacIsaac says the additional hires have allowed for more one-on-one time with EAL students. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"A class of 22 could have upwards of 14 EAL students and a high number of those might speak a basic level of English to no English," MacIsaac said. "It's very difficult for teachers to manage that."

MacIsaac said it's important to make the new students feel like they are welcomed.

"That's always a challenge when you don't have the staff to do that," he said. "But by getting the additional staff, we were able to at least begin that process and we're trying to continue it each day."

Planning for future schools

The province says it's trying to come up with a way to avoid all these late hires in the future. 

"We may be able to do better to determine what the intentions of immigrants might be or to track when they might be landing and see what we can do in that regard to ensure that we have the staffing here to meet the needs of immigrants and of local students as those new populations land," said Jordan Brown, Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture.

Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture Jordan Brown hopes that working with the immigration department will help planning with teaching and EAL resources. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Brown says it's a challenge because right now the province has little idea when immigrant families are planning to move to the Island or where they'll live.

The education minister said he's working with P.E.I. immigration officials to see if there is a way to better predict the immigration influx so that schools can be staffed accordingly.

"As we push to have our population growth strategy impact the rural areas of Prince Edward Island more, there is the question too as to whether that will be an even distribution across Prince Edward Island at any given point in time."

With files from Steve Bruce