Calendar changes lead to less time in class

Vernon School District trustees recently approved changes to the calendar for the 2015/16 school year

Students will get a little more time off school in 2016, as teachers take part in an extra 10 hours of training for the implementation of the new B.C. curriculum introduced by the Ministry of Education.

In September, the ministry and the BCTF announced a three-year support plan to help teachers deliver the curriculum in their classrooms. The plan includes $1 million to fund targeted training this school year, used to support training for 2,000 teachers across the province and to provide additional professional training for teachers.

Ten hours of non-instructional time are being designated for teachers this year so that they can become familiar with the new curriculum. How this time is spread throughout the school year is decided by local school districts and teachers associations through agreement between the superintendent and local president.

Vernon School District trustees recently approved changes to the calendar for the 2015/16 school year to add those 10 hours.

“It really is important that teachers are given the time to incorporate those core competencies,” said district superintendent Joe Rogers.

“This is a significant change, so that if you’ve been a teacher of chemistry or mathematics your entire career, how do you incorporate those core competencies, and so lots of discussion needs to happen.”

The core competencies along with literacy and numeracy foundations and essential content and concepts are at the centre of the redesign of curriculum and assessment.

The ministry calls core competencies sets of intellectual, personal and social and emotional proficiencies that all students need to develop in order to engage in deep learning and life-long learning. The three core competencies were identified as communication, thinking, personal and social.

Trustees recently approved changes to the 2015/16 school calendar to add 10 hours of non-instructional time as follows: Feb. 22, one day; April 21, 1/2 day; May 19, 1/2 day.

Rogers said the regulations for school calendars in the past were for 952 hours of instruction for students in Grades 8 to 12.

“They are now 942 hours so the regulations have been changed for 10 hours for this year and five hours for subsequent years,” he said.

“So when the calendar committee meets in January to bring about the proposed calendar for the following school year it will not be 942 hours, it will be 947.”

CUPE president Mark Olsen expressed his concern at the negative impact the extra 10 hours of non-instructional time will have on his members, district support staff ranging from school secretaries to bus drivers.

“This will have a negative effect on my members because it will be another day where my members won’t be working,” he said. “They’ve already been budgeted for this.

“Is the board going to consider offering work for these days? I’m asking the board to consider making a recommendation for in-servicing or wage for those who won’t be working that day.”

District secretary-treasurer Sterling Olson said no decision has been made yet on what role support staff will play on the non-instructional days.

“We’ve had some conversations this morning as part of our management group, we want to make sure the board is getting value, so we’re still in conversation to see what opportunity we have for your members to provide some service and do some training on this day,” he said.