Education Minister Mike Bernier (left) negotiated a deal with B.C. Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker to provide extra professional development time on the new public school curriculum.

Curriculum training cuts into teaching time

School districts have to find two days of non-teaching time this year, on top of professional development days

B.C. teachers switching to the education ministry’s new curriculum this year will use 10 hours of classroom time to train on it.

Education Minister Mike Bernier announced the training plan Monday at the B.C. legislature, with teacher, trustee and parent representatives alongside. Bernier said training the first 2,000 teachers to deliver the new curriculum this year will cost $1 million and take the equivalent of two teaching days.

It’s up to local school districts to decide how that time is organized, but it may mean extra non-instructional days or parts of days when students would be sent home early.

The new curriculum is being piloted this year for kindergarten through Grade 9 and will become mandatory across the province starting next fall. Curriculum updates for the higher grades are still in development.

For the next two years, teachers across B.C. will use one of their current professional development days for curriculum training and an additional five hours, the equivalent of one classroom day, will also be devoted to the new curriculum.

Bernier confirmed that the program is being implemented within existing budgets. The additional $1 million this year is to fund teacher training seminars and travel costs for rural teachers where the training isn’t offered in their home districts.

The training plan was announced with representatives of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, the B.C. School Trustees’ Association, superintendents, principals and vice principals, parent advisory councils, independent schools, and the First Nations Steering Committee.

BCSTA president Teresa Rezansoff said school boards will decide how to structure the training to “best meet the needs of teachers while minimizing any impact on student learning time.”

Bernier says the new curriculum emphasizes “hands on” learning and more flexibility for individualized studies. Two areas of emphasis are environmental education and an enhanced aboriginal perspective in every subject.