Small classes make a difference

By: Erna Braun, MLA for Rossmere

As published in The Herald

July 10, 2013

Rossmere MLA Erna Braun (second from left) is seen here with (l-r) Darlene Chaloner, President of the Parent Advisory Council, Concordia MLA Matt Wiebe, and John de Graff Principal Margaret Fair at an event announcing a two-classroom addition at John de Graff School.

On June 19 I had the opportunity to take part in a very important announcement for families in Northeast Winnipeg.

I was pleased to join Matt Wiebe, MLA for Concordia and our Minister of Education, Nancy Allan, as Premier Selinger announced phase one of our government’s plan to expand and renovate schools to create smaller classes in Kindergarten to Grade 3.

As part of phase one, our government will be adding two new classrooms to John de Graff School. In total, our government will invest over $15 million to create 28 additional classrooms across the province as part of phase one.

Smaller classes make a difference. As a former teacher, I experienced that difference in terms of the students’ learning and what I could accomplish.

As teachers, we are always exploring ways to ensure students have the individual attention and instruction they need. Establishing relationships with students is necessary to keep them engaged in learning, but the number of students in a class has a profound effect on the teacher’s ability to perform those tasks.

This impact is strongest in the early grades. Research is pinpointing these years as the critical years for learning. With a smaller number of students, teachers can better help youngsters learn at the pace best suited to their needs.

Over the next few years, parents will see classrooms added, expanded or renovated in their schools as part of a provincial government initiative to limit class sizes to 20 students per class in Kindergarten to Grade 3.

It was exciting to be part of the Smaller Classes announcement at John de Graff School, and to be part of fostering the learning opportunities a smaller classroom environment can provide. Education is an investment in our children and in the future prosperity of our communities. We know that by investing in smaller classes in the early years, our children will have the start they need to succeed both in school and in life.