Teachers on strike in Nelson in 2012.

Student teachers relieved as hundreds of new positions to open following BCTF’s interim deal

Agreement promises $50-million to hire 1,100 new teachers

People training to become teachers in British Columbia are likely feeling a lot more optimistic, after the announcement this week of an interim deal between the province and the teachers’ union.

Education Minister Mike Bernier said Thursday the agreement comes with $50 million in new funding to create about 1,100 new teaching positions within the month.

RELATED: Province announces $50-million interim boost to hire upwards of 1,000 B.C. teachers in the next month

SFU education student Scott McIndoe says he can breathe a sigh of relief with the hope his field will become much less competitive.

“The end goal in getting to my passion is all that more achievable,” the 27-year-old White Rock man said. “It is reassuring to know [we’re] being supported by the government.”

McIndoe hopes to teach Grade 6 and 7 in the South Surrey area, following in the steps of his father who ended his career as a principal, and his mother, who was a long-time teacher.

While he’s eager to prepare lesson plans and lead his own classroom, he says the promise of new positions means he can relax about his future in a way that years of previous graduates could not.

Full-time jobs a first in a decade for students

SFU faculty associate Aimee Boyer says when she first graduated in 2004, she started looking overseas for teaching jobs because nothing was available at home.

She eventually came back to B.C., working in Mount Currie near Squamish, and has been at a Surrey elementary school for the past six years.

“The teacher part of me that works for Surrey is really excited and relieved,” Boyer said. “The children of B.C. deserve a stronger education, and how they’re going to get that is by having teachers that have the time to meet their needs.”

She says some of her SFU students have told her they are a bit anxious at possibly starting to work right out of school, instead of developing their skills through part-time or teacher-on-call work.

It’s become so normal, Boyer said, to have to work for two or three years in more minor positions before finally getting a full-time job.

Where will new teachers teach?

There is still the question of where to put the new teachers.

Staff capacity is one of the factors that the province will consider when doling out the new funding to each school district.

Many schools in the Lower Mainland are overcrowded, especially those in more developed areas such as Surrey and Langley, Chilliwack and Maple Ridge.

RELATED: Surrey is already at a tipping point with overcrowded schools and potentially more portable classrooms

Bernier said Thursday other factors to be considered are class timetables, labour supply limitations, and physical space.

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