Teachers across New Brunswick have ratified a five-year agreement that will add 250 teachers to classrooms that face challenges related to the range of intellectual and physical abilities found in schools today.
The agreement announced Friday by Premier Brian Gallant and the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation also gives teachers annual wage increases of one per cent.
The new teachers will be hired to help support classroom teachers and work with students, particularly in classrooms with what a news release described as "composition challenges."
Marc Arseneault and Guy Arseneau, co-presidents of the federation, said the agreement addresses the main issues related to classroom composition.
"The provision of additional teachers, specifically for direct intervention services to students, is a strong first step," they said in a joint statement, "and reflects the commitment to increase the resources needed to meet the increasingly complex demands in an inclusive school system."
Gallant said the additional resources will give principals and vice-principals more time to devote to their roles as educational leaders.
"By working with educators, we are providing the resources required to support classroom composition and improve our children's educational outcomes," Gallant said.
As part of the agreement, there will be a research project initiative that will increase the hours of instruction for some students in kindergarten through Grade 2.
Seventeen schools will begin participating in a three-year research project in September 2018 to increase instructional time for those students by one hour a day. The additional hour, along with more resources, will be used to help students reach targets for literacy, numeracy, physical education, art and music.
The research project is a joint initiative of the teachers federation and provincial government and will be evaluated by independent experts.
The new collective agreement will apply to nearly 8,000 teachers, including supply teachers, vice-principals and principals. The previous collective agreement expired Feb. 29, 2016.