Enriching student learning

Kids benefit from having counsellors and librarians and teachers who provide instruction in the arts and health and physical education.


Classes in the arts and physical education drive our little ones, with the balls of energy they are, to thrive and learn teamwork, collaboration, and creativity. Although the province knows the importance of these programs—mandating that elementary students must have access to the arts and physical education classes—it doesn’t provide the funding teachers need to provide these classes.. We need specialist teachers who are ready to share their love for music, physical education, visual and performing arts, and design and technology to guide our kids to follow their passions and choose careers that ensure Ontario is at the forefront of new technological and creative trends.

The Ontario education grants leave our kids short-changed when it comes to funding specialist teachers. The shortfall is magnified in smaller and more remote schools that have less access to specialist teachers and programs because the funding is based on per-pupil grants rather than grants per school.

Technology, the arts, global, and environmental education all support experiential learning that ignites and sustains students’ interest and connects them to the world around them.

Arts education gives students a greater motivation to learn, improved self-esteem, communication and social skills, increased creativity and innovation, and a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

The general health of children and youth is becoming a national concern as the incidence of obesity and childhood diabetes increases. Only 14% of Ontario children and youth meet the physical activity guideline of 90 minutes of daily activity established by Health Canada. Physical well-being is crucial to students’ ability to learn and be successful in the classroom and schools can do more to promote healthy physical activity. For this to happen, teachers need more flexibility in terms of the curriculum.

The government also needs to increase funding for specialist elementary physical education teachers. People for Education reports that only 45% of grade 7 and 8 schools have a specialist health and physical education teacher. In one third of the schools, these teachers are only assigned part-time. Despite the importance of design and technology to our future economic prosperity, design and technology and family studies programs have almost disappeared from Ontario’s grade 7 and 8 classrooms. These programs are particularly important for students who learn best through hands-on learning. Teacher-librarians play a critical role in developing student literacy, supporting teachers’ classroom programs, and making the library the technological hub of the school. Even though there is extensive research on this, the number of elementary schools that have a teacher-librarian continues to decline.

 

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Recommendations
  • Increase the Elementary Foundation Grant to provide all elementary schools with specialist teachers in the arts, and health and physical education.
  • Reintroduce design and technology to grades 7 and 8.
  • Increase the Elementary Foundation Grant to provide at least one qualified guidance counsellor and one qualified teacher-librarian per school.
  • Establish more balance between the focus on literacy and numeracy and the importance of providing elementary students access to programs in other subjects including science, social studies, the arts, and physical and health education.

Sources

Active Healthy Kids. (2010) Report Card 2010. http://www.activehealthy-kids.ca/ecms.ashx/2010Active-HealthyKidsCanadaReportCard-long-form.pdf.

Bascia, Nina. (2010) Reducing Class Size: What Do We Know? Canadian Education Association. Toronto.

Coishy, David. (2005) Canadian School Libraries and Teacher-Librarians: Results from the 2003/04 Information and Communications Technologies in Schools Survey. Statistics Canada. Ottawa.

Cummins, Jim. (2012) Teaching English Language Learners. Research for Teachers, No. 9. ETFO and OISE/University of Toronto.

Fairholm, Robert. (August, 2010) Early Learning and Care Impact Analysis. The Centre for Spacial Economics. Milton.

Hargreaves, Andy and Shirley, Dennis. (2009) The Fourth Way: The Inspiring Future for Educational Change. Corwin. Thousand Oaks, CA.

Leithwood, Kenneth, McAdie, Pat, Bascia Nina, and Rodrigue, Annie, eds. (2004) Teaching for Deep Understanding: Towards the Ontario Curriculum that We Need. Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and OISE/UT. Toronto.

Mackenzie, Hugh. (2009) No time for Complacency: Education Funding Reality Check. (2009) Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Ottawa.

OECD (2012), Lessons from PISA for Japan, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264118539-en

Ontario Ministry of Education. (March, 2009) Planning and Possibilities: The Report of the Declining Enrolment Working Group. Toronto.

People for Education. (2013) Mind the Gap: Inequality in Ontario Schools. Toronto

People for Education. (2012) Annual Report on Ontario’s Schools 2011. Toronto.

Queen’s University and People for Education. Klinger, D.A.; Lee, E.A.; Stephenson, G.; Deluca, C.; Luu, K (2009) “Exemplary School Libraries in Ontario.” Ontario Library Association. Toronto.

Queen’s University and People for Education. (2006) School Libraries and Student Achievement in Ontario. Ontario Library Association. Toronto.

Ravitch, Diane. (2010) The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education. Basic Books. New York.

Sahlberg, Pasi. (2011) Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? Teachers College Press. New York.

Schanzenback, D.W. (2014) Does Class Size Matter? National Education Policy Centre. Boulder CO.Retrieved February 19, 2014 from http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/does-class-size-matter.

Upitis, Rena and Smithrim, Katherine. (2002) Learning Through the Arts, National Assessment 1999-2003, Final Report Part I: Grade Student Achievement and Engagement. Kingston.

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