Public Schools, Class Sizes, and Composition
Over the past 16 years, over 200 public schools have been closed in British Columbia.1
Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, the number of elementary schools dropped by 216, while secondary schools rose by only 31. The total number of other types of schools dropped by 29.
Thanks to increased funding in 2016–17, class sizes have decreased in all grades. However, Kindergaretn class sizes are still significantly higher than ten years ago.2
Between 2005–06 and 2015–16, average class size increased significantly for Kindergarten and Grades 1 to 3 classes. Class size for Grades 4 to 7 has remained roughly the same. Class size for Grades 8 to 12 have fallen thanks to an increase in the number
of secondary schools. Thanks to increased funding for 2016–17, class sizes have fallen in all grades. Kindergarten classes, however, still have 1.6 students more than they did in 2006–17, on average.
The number of classes with over 30 students decreased significantly with the introduction of Bill 22 on July 1, 2012.
Bill 22, introduced in July 1, 2012, provides compensation to teachers of classes that exceed 30 students in Grades 4 to 12.3 Prior to that there were around 3,300 classes with more than 30 students. That number plummeted since the introduction
of Bill 22, then hovered between 1,100 and 1,300 classes. There were 1,385 classes with more than 30 students in 2016–17.4
However, there was no effective regulation or agreement regarding class composition, and the number of classes with four or more students with special needs has skyrocketed.
In the past ten years, the number of classes with four or more students with special needs in BC public schools increased by 81%. In 2006–07, less than 15% of classrooms had four or more children with special needs. In 2016–17, one in four did.5
1 Freedom of Information Request – Ministry of Education. Number of Schools by Grade Range & School Type. 1998/99 to 2015/16 inclusive. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.
BC Ministry of Education. (2017). Student
Statistics – 2016/17 [Various School Districts]. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.
2 Analysis and Reporting Unit, Ministry of Education. (2017). BC Schools - Class Size. Victoria: Government of British Columbia. Retrieved from catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset/bc-schools-class-size.
Ministry of Education. (2005–15).
Overview of Class Size and Composition in British Columbia Public
Schools—Provincial Overview.2005/06 to 2015/16 inclusive. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.
3 BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. Bill 22: The
Education Improvement Act Information Sheet. Burnaby. Retrieved from bccpac.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/bccpac_bill_22_information_sheet_as_of_july_27-1.pdf.
4 Analysis and Reporting Unit, Ministry of Education. (2017). BC Schools - Class Size.
5 Analysis and Reporting Unit, Ministry of Education. (2017). Class size by Composition. Victoria: Government of British Columbia. Retrieved from catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset/class-size-by-composition.