New mandatory high school tech course coming, but who will teach it?

0

A new Ontario requirement that high school kids take a mandatory tech course is being hailed as a good step, but worries abound over who will teach it and what the course will entail.

Article content

A new Ontario requirement that high school kids take a mandatory tech course is being hailed as a good step, but worries abound over who will teach it and what the course will entail.

“We’ve all heard about the need for a more detailed and advanced program for students to help fill some of the gaps we have in employment opportunities and openings across the province,” said Bill Tucker, a professor in the faculty of education at Western University and former education director at the Thames Valley District school board.

Advertisement 2

Article content

The requirement for a technology education credit was announced by the Ministry of Education a year ago and will be implemented this fall.

“This graduation requirement is being rolled out as part of the government’s ongoing commitment to equip students with the skills they need in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and to prepare them for the careers of the future, including in the skilled trades,” the Education Ministry said in an email.

“This new credit requirement will ensure that every student in the province has an opportunity to acquire basic technological skills and exposure to the skilled trades and other STEM-related careers,” the ministry said.

Jared Zaifman, chief executive of the London Home Builders’ Association, said mandatory tech courses will be “tremendously useful.

“A big part of what we do is focus on careers in construction and to promote careers in the trades with youth and trying to present the incredible opportunities that exist in the industry for them,” he said. “It will encourage more kids to get into the trades; we want to see more go into construction.”

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Jared Zaifman
Jared Zaifman, chief executive of the London Home Builders’ Association. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)

But Tucker said “the challenge will be in finding qualified candidates” to fill those teaching positions.

“Boards are already facing immense difficulties in filling teacher positions across the spectrum of subjects already being taught in our schools,” he said.  “With the advent and renewal of a highly specialized field of study at the secondary level, finding the right people with the right skill sets will be critical.”

John Bernans, a local leader with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation that represents the Thames Valley board’s high school teachers, said one of the problems with the new requirement is “the Ford government has not announced any significant funding to support the plan.

“Our members are always ready and willing to meet the needs of students and to advance learning including supporting tech learning,” he said. “Training and supports for resources are the key to success and we would encourage the government to provide these.”

Tucker said Ontario faculties of education will work closely with the Ministry of Education, the Ontario College of Teachers and school boards “to augment professional training both in the preservice program and in additional qualification courses.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

Bill Tucker
Bill Tucker, professor in the faculty of education at Western University. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)

The Thames Valley District school board, the largest in the region, said it will offer a tech course but didn’t say of what it will consist.

All technology education credits are optional now, the board said.

“The new tech curriculum is being developed and a new Grade 9 and 10 tech course will be offered in all schools to fulfil this requirement,” the board said in an email.

London District Catholic secondary schools now offer technology courses such as communications, computer science, construction and transportation.

“As soon as we knew that all Grade 9 students would be required to obtain a Grade 9 or 10 technological education credit, we began discussing various ways of increasing the capacity and frequency of these courses in our secondary schools, including potential summer school offerings,” spokesperson Mark Adkinson said. “We are confident that we will be able to support our new secondary students this fall with a variety of options.”

[email protected]

Article content

link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *