Ontario government looks into removing classroom size cap

Reaction negative from teaches and parents

Hassberger's classroom
Danielle Hassberger teaches her Grade 3 class of 20 students, which she considers a manageable size. Courtesy of Tina D'Alonzo

Toronto teachers and parents say they’re upset about Ontario considering scrapping the classroom size cap.

The current classroom size cap is at 29 students from kindergarten to Grade three. If the Ontario government removes that cap, as they are considering doing, teachers could end up having over 30 students in their classes.

“Twenty-nine-plus is a ridiculous number in any classroom,” Grade 3 teacher Danielle Hassberger says.

Having that many students already puts a strain on teachers, as they try to make enough time for each students individual needs, she says.

Hassberger, who has been teaching in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School board for 18 years, says her Grade 3 class of 20 students is manageable.

Danielle Hassberger sits at her desk during class time. (Courtesy of Tina D’Alonzo)

“In my class I have students working at the grade one level all the way up to the grade four level,” Hassberger says. “Add in students with special needs, behavioural issues or mental health issues and getting around to students on an individual basis becomes quite the challenge.”

She says kindergarten classes will suffer the most from this change.

Hassberger’s first assignment was kindergarten when it was only half-day. She had 19 students in the morning and 15 students in the afternoon.

With 300 minutes of instructional time per day, a classroom of 30 students leaves only 10 minutes of one-on-one time per student. “Not a lot of time, especially when you are teaching children how to read and write,” says Hassberger.

Student artwork decorates Danielle Hassberger’s classroom.

Mima D’Alelio says her son Matthew, attending another class in the same school, is struggling in his senior kindergarten class.

“Teachers are stretched as is, they don’t have the time or resources to give one-on-one care or attention,” she said.

Matthew’s class has 27 students. That is only two less than the current cap.

D’Alelio says students will suffer more if the government removes the cap and allows more students into these classrooms.

Four other teachers and parents, representing three Toronto schools, were interviewed and presented similar — if not stronger opinions — against raising class sizes but did not want their names published.

About this article

Posted: Mar 4 2019 2:24 pm
Filed under: Features News Profiles