News release

Teacher Shortage Can be Avoided, Report

A new report on teacher demand and supply in Nova Scotia concludes there is time to avoid a predicted widespread teacher shortage. The Report on Teacher Demand and Supply says overall the province will have more than enough teachers until 2005-06.

Education Minister Jane Purves said the time is being put to good use.

"The good news is that we have enough teachers for the next few years. The short-term challenge is to ensure we have enough teachers in the right subject areas," said Ms. Purves. "We are planning and acting now so we can continue to have the teachers we need, particularly in math, sciences, French and technology education."

The report makes 53 recommendations. The recommendations include:

  • adding more junior and senior high math, physics and chemistry teachers beginning in 2004 and elementary teachers in 2005;
  • increasing the number of students entering post-secondary institutions by 100 starting next year;
  • filling more available seats at the Universit√© Sainte-Anne;
  • early recruiting and marketing;
  • and reimbursing tuition.

"The report makes one thing very clear. Everyone has a role to play in training more teachers in the right subject areas and keeping them in Nova Scotia classrooms," Ms. Purves said. "As just one example, education students tell us they want to stay and work in Nova Scotia, if they know they have a job here. We must work with school boards and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union on removing barriers so new teachers can be hired earlier."

The minister said the province is also interested in working with a university on a pilot project where the Bachelor of Education program could be delivered in 14 consecutive months, instead of over two years.

"The goal is to train more teachers, maintaining the same standards, in less time," she said.

The supply of substitute teachers must also be addressed. The report recommends reducing the demand for substitutes by looking at when professional development is scheduled, implementing a provincewide electronic system to identify available substitutes and reviewing the daily substitute rate and travel reimbursement.

Shortages in speech language pathologists and other professionals working with students with special needs is also an issue. The department is reviewing this issue as part of its Special Education Review.

"The study is an important piece of work that will help us all manage the challenges in education in the coming years," said Lavinia Parrish-Zwicker, president of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Education, the teachers union and others to address education issues."

"We are developing an action plan with our partners to look at what can be done right away, and what we can implement as part of a longer-term strategy," said Ms Purves. Costing will be part of the analysis.

The need for new teachers is based on the number of teachers leaving the system because of retirements, teachers moving or changing careers, disability pensions and death. Today there are 12,121 active teachers in Nova Scotia and 155,873 students.

The report was prepared by representatives from the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, school boards, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, university faculties of education and the Department of Education.

Copies of the report are available on the Web site at www.ednet.ns.ca .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotia has enough teachers until 2005.

That's the word from a new report on teacher supply and demand.

Education Minister Jane Purves says her department will put the time between now and 2005 to good use.

Among the recommendations in the report are hiring more math, physics and chemistry teachers in 2004, adding 100 more students to teacher training programs, and tuition incentives for Bachelor of Education students in specific areas.

Ms. Purves said she is interested in working with a university on a pilot project where the Bachelor of Education program could be 14 consecutive months, instead of two years.

She also said everyone has a role to play in removing barriers so new teachers can be hired earlier. The Department of Education is now putting together an action plan.

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Contact:

Robyn McIsaac
Department of Education 902-424-8286 E-mail:
kjd            January 8, 2002          11:55 A.M.