Manitoba government move to lift cap on K-3 class size draws strong reaction

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government is lifting a cap that kept the size of kindergarten-to-Grade 3 classes in the province at 20 students.

The cap was announced by the former NDP government in 2011, but Education Minister Ian Wishart says data from provincial assessments in reading and numeracy show no significant improvement in student achievement.

The cap will be lifted this fall and schools will be allowed to set their own class sizes.

The province will monitor the results of the move over a four-year period.

The Manitoba Teachers Society says the cap was the best solution to improving student performance.

The Winnipeg School Division — the city’s largest — says it welcomes the decision because limiting student numbers meant more classes and shifting resources.

“The prescriptive approach just wasn’t fitting,” said Wishart. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all business. I think we have to trust the teachers themselves to know what is best for their class and their students.”

But Norm Gould, president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, said the cap was a “no-brainer.”

“Would you rather have your child in a class of 30, or your child in a class of less than 20?” he asked. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Sherri Rollins, chairwoman of the Winnipeg School Division, said under the cap system, schools have sometimes had to shift a science, music or French teacher into the younger years program.

“It meant over time that we were borrowing from Peter to pay Paul in a school, so to speak,” she said.

Parent Rica Copiaco said smaller class sizes are working.

“It’s great. The teacher can really focus on each student.” (CTV Winnipeg)

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