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Technology education teachers across BC are increasingly worried about growing health and safety risks in woodwork, metalwork, electronics, mechanics, and other shop classes due to underfunding and overcrowding.

Since the provincial government cut education funding and removed firm class-size limits from teachers’ contracts, there are fewer technology teachers and they are facing larger classes with less supplies, equipment, and maintenance than ever before. Increased numbers of students with special needs or limited English skills mean additional concerns for safety and supervision.

In an effort to address these problems, the British Columbia Technology Education Association (BCTEA) has compiled a comprehensive document outlining recognized best practices, with health and safety as the key theme. “As teachers we take our responsibility for student safety very seriously and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that our classrooms, which are like industrial workplaces, are safe for all concerned. That’s why we’ve developed the BCTEA Best Practices Guide,” said BCTEA President Mike Howard. He noted that WorkSafe BC health and safety policies cover teachers and other staff, but not students. “We think that a separate set of WorkSafe policies should be developed to address the specific needs of students working and learning in industrial settings,” Howard added. 

The new guide book will be launched at Thompson Rivers University at the annual fall conference, entitled “TRU’ly Different: Approaches to Trades and Technology at Secondary and Post-Secondary Levels.” Howard and past BCTEA President Paul Boscariol will speak, along with BC Teachers’ Federation President Susan Lambert, who will be available for media interviews after the launch.

The launch will take place at:  8:00 a.m. on Friday, October 21, at the School of Trades and Technology at TRU in Kamloops. To read the full report, visit: www.bctea.org. 

The BCTEA is a professional specialist association of the BCTF. Its conference is only one of many taking place across BC this Friday and over the weekend. This year marks the 40th anniversary of professional development days within the school calendar. In 1971, five extra days were added to the school year with no loss of instructional days for students and no extra pay for teachers. To see the full range of events taking place October 21 and 22, visit: http://bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/Public/ProD/PD-Calendar.cfm.

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For more information, contact Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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