Ontario is maintaining its current class sizes in primary grades but increasing them for high-school students, part of an education package announcement Friday that also includes modifications to the sex education curriculum.
The government has held a series of consultations, both with education stakeholders and the wider public, on everything from class sizes in primary grades and staffing in full-day Kindergarten to a cellphone ban in classrooms and rewriting the contentious sex-ed curriculum.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced Friday that average high-school class size will increase from 22 to 28 students. Despite consulting widely on the issue, primary class sizes in grades 1 to 3 will remain capped at 23 students. In grades 4 to 8, the average will increase by one student, she said.
“Our planned changes to class sizes will happen gradually over four years. And not one teacher, not one, will lose their jobs because of our class size strategy,” she said.
Ms. Thompson said there will be a new “age-appropriate” sex education curriculum, which raises the age at which certain concepts are taught, but keeps them all. Students will learn the proper names of body parts in Grade 1, the same as the 2015 curriculum. Gender identity and gender expression won’t be taught till Grade 8. In the 2105 curriculum, they was taught in Grade 6.
“We’re going to respect Mom and Dad by providing an opt-out so parents can be the ultimate decision-makers on their kids’ health education,” she said.
The government said there will be “clear provisions” for parents who wish to exempt their children from sexual-health education. It also said there will be online modules for those who want to discuss health topics at home “whenever they feel their child is ready.”
Ms. Thompson also announced changes to the province’s math curriculum to focus “less on ideology and more skills.”
“Our strategy will emphasize financial literacy, by finally including it in the mandatory curriculum in high school,” she said. “Our plan will emphasize basic arithmetic and multiplication. Our plan will promote science, technology, engineering and math.”
The government’s education consultations also asked about the full-day Kindergarten program for four- and five-year-olds that was introduced by the former Liberal government in the fall of 2010.
Premier Doug Ford’s government sought input on the two-educator model − a teacher and an early childhood educator − and if there are other models the ministry could consider.