For many people listening to the news, the difference between a classroom ratio of 25 or 28 may not sound like a big difference. The real difference becomes more evident when we realize that the ratio is a school-wide average which counts special needs classes along with inclusive mainstream classes.
In Ontario government-funded schools, the Ministry of Education has declared that Primary classrooms (K-3) can have no more than 20 students, while there is an average of 25 students per teacher in grades 4-8 classroom and full-day Kindergarten classes may have up to 29 students with one teacher and one ECE. Yet, consider that a special needs class of 5 children with 1 teacher and 1 ECE and a classroom down the hall of 35 children and 1 teacher. On average, the school even falls under the criteria for ratio, but the class of 35 children will run significantly different than an actual class of 25 students, especially when you take into account the provincial average of 30% of mainstream students also have an IEP and require special accommodations. This now means that in our class of 35 students, 11 of them will require extra support and even a completely modified program for any number of academic and behavioural exceptionalities.
When you break down the math and look at the actual day-to-day functioning of a classroom in 2019, it’s much easier to understand the impact of classroom ratios on student performance. With smaller classes, teachers are better able to focus on individual needs of students; this is indisputable. There is no magic number that creates the perfect environment for student learning, but educational experts agree that smaller classes are more conducive to student learning overall.
As class sizes have grown and additional support workers for students with special needs has grown, there has been significantly less time for teachers to provide a traditional level of support for the average student. Consequently, students who fall in the mid or high range of academic performance are often left to work on their own or seek help after-school from family members or tutors.
At Oak Learners, we believe that small classes benefit everyone. Students receive more individual attention and are able to build constructive relationships with both teachers and peers. Teachers of smaller classes are not stretched and overworked so they are able to truly personalize the learning experience for each child and build valuable experiential learning opportunities into daily plans. Parents then receive more quality information about the progress of their children and are able to regularly meet and debrief which also ensures that new strategies can be implemented immediately instead of waiting until the next term.
How would a lower ratio benefit your child? Learn more about educational options at Oak Learners at https://oaklearners.ca/private-school/
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<Originally published November 20, 2019>
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