London

London's Catholic school board waives education requirement for French teachers

The London District School Board is in such dire need of elementary French teachers, it is waiving the requirement to have completed teachers' college for new hires.

Those wanting to teach French will still have to be Catholic, board says

The Catholic Education Centre headquarters on Wellington Road. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

The London District Catholic School Board has such a dire need for teachers for some of its elementary classrooms that it is waiving the teachers' college requirement for new hires. 

Those wanting to teach French must have an undergraduate degree, experience working with children and be fluent in French. 

They must also be Catholic and provide a reference from their priest. 

Under normal circumstances, those wanting to work in the public education system must be certified with the Ontario College of Teachers after completing a two-year program at an education faculty.

But with a shortage of French language teachers, the board said it is being forced to take drastic measures. 

There are provisions in the Education Act for just such emergencies, said Bill Tucker, a former director of education in London and now professor in Western University's faculty of education. 

"There's a section in the education act that allows school boards to hire, on an emergency basis, unqualified teachers," Tucker said. 

Those hired to teach French for the board will have to complete a mandated training program, according to a job posting. 

Retirements partly to blame

At the beginning of the school year, the Catholic board put out a call for retired teachers to come back temporarily to teach French. 

But those who have been filling in want to go back to retirement and others are also getting set to retire. 

A spokesperson for the Catholic board said the new hires will be part-time supply teachers used to fill in for permanent teachers who will be away. 

There's a shortage of French teachers across the province and country. It's not been helped by a relatively new two-year teachers college program, which cut the number of graduating teachers in half in Ontario. 

The Thames Valley District School Board has been employing aggressive tactics to recruit French teachers by going out to faculties of education before graduation, giving out conditional offers of employment.

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