British Columbia

Teachers endorse training plan for new curriculum

B.C.'s Education Minister Mike Bernier says the government will spend $1 million to train teachers on the new school curriculum, costing students four days of instruction over the next three years.

Students will lose 4 additional school days over the next 3 years while teachers learn the new curriculum

Students and teachers in B.C. are trying out a new school curriculum this year. (Getty Images)

B.C.'s Education Minister Mike Bernier says the government will spend $1 million to train teachers on the new school curriculum, costing students four days of instruction over the next three years.

As part of their collective agreement, teachers have six professional development days a year, of which the education ministry decides the topic for one of those days.

But under the training program announced Monday, students will lose the equivalent of two additional days of class time this year, as teachers spend 10 hours learning how to phase in the lessons over the next three years.

Next year, teachers will take five hours of non-classroom time and devote one professional development day to new curriculum training.

The new curriculum is set to be fully implemented in the 2017-2018 academic year, when teachers will train five hours and devote another professional development day to the new program.

The government has already announced it would dedicate one of the six professional development days this year to aboriginal education, which is part of the new curriculum.

The government's new curriculum aims to transform students' interests into academic success, highlights collaboration and critical thinking, while also focusing on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Aboriginal perspectives will be taught at all grade levels, and students will learn about the residential school system. They will also learn about history of South Asian and Chinese immigrants, including the Chinese Head Tax.

'Historic' co-operation

Bernier called the gathering of nine separate B.C. education organizations in support of the new curriculum "historic," as some have been long-time government adversaries. Teacher, trustee and superintendent organizations attended the news conference Monday to announce the new plans.

"B.C. teachers want to see the new curriculum succeed and that's why we are here today," said Jim Iker, president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

A strike last year by the province's 40,000 public school teachers resulted in a late-September start to the school year. The five-week strike ended with teachers and government signing a six-year contract.

Bernier said teacher-training sessions will occur locally and in larger provincial settings.

He said local school districts and teacher associations must manage their training time, which amounts to two school days this year.

"We will be leaving it up to the local school districts and the teacher associations to determine how to spread out that time throughout the year," he said. "In all cases, we will be making sure parents get adequate warning if there are going to be any changes within the classroom."

Iker said the $1-million training fund and the two days of non-instructional time is "so crucial to a successful rollout."

Schools have the option this year of starting to implement the new curriculum up to Grade 9.

Bernier said while the training program is valued at $1 million, the time it will take to train teachers over three years is worth $100 million.

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