Some classrooms lack certified teachers as school year begins

Connie Keating, New Brunswick Teachers' Association president, says districts should be hiring sooner and more aggressively, especially for rural areas. (CBC - image credit)
Connie Keating, New Brunswick Teachers' Association president, says districts should be hiring sooner and more aggressively, especially for rural areas. (CBC - image credit)

The new school year is underway and some classes are still without certified teachers.

The president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association said the biggest shortages are in rural areas, where it's always a challenge to attract people.

The province needs to improve its process for hiring new grads and attract teachers to rural areas to make sure this doesn't keep happening, said Connie Keating.

With a nationwide shortage of teachers, the districts need to focus on hiring New Brunswick education graduates, or certified teachers from elsewhere, much earlier. She said New Brunswick is often the last to offer positions.

"Education students are graduating, you know, April, May, and oftentimes they've already had offers," she told Information Morning Fredericton.

"We would suggest … offering incentives to work in schools outside of our larger centres."

She said in many cases there are teachers throughout the province, "but they're just not in the right location at the right time."

Keating said most teachers were ready, able and excited to welcome students on Tuesday morning.

However, some French-immersion classes still don't have teachers in Anglophone West, for example, and some districts are still hiring teachers and supply teachers into this week.

Some teaching with a local permit

Most classes that don't have certified teachers will still have someone with a local permit filling in, Keating said. That means they do not have a bachelor of education degree along with a New Brunswick teacher's certificate, or they do have their degree but are awaiting certification.

Those without an education degree must have at least two years of post-secondary education, according to the Department of Education website. And they can only work as substitute teachers at reduced pay.

"We're certainly, you know, very appreciative of, of having those individuals, but our priority is certainly to have certified teachers in front of our students," Keating said.

Zoë Watson,superintendent of the Anglophone South School District, said a lot of time this summer has been spent trying to hire teachers.

"We do have a couple of spots that are vacant ... and would be filled with supply teachers," Watson told Information Morning Saint John. "But we do have people who are applying for those jobs."


Watson agrees that staffing rural areas, such as Charlotte County, is challenging.

"We seem to be in pretty good shape at startup for French immersion teachers, but often finding qualified guidance counsellors, qualified skills trades teachers in some of those specific areas, are quite a challenge," she said.

Watson said that starting the year with supply teachers standing in for empty positions is "unusual."

Anglophone South has 1,700 teachers and 400 people on the supply teacher list, including retired teachers and people with local permits.

Watson said when someone applies for a local permit, their application is evaluated and it's determined what level of local permit teacher they would be. Then they receive some training before they head into the classroom and also have to pass a criminal record check.

She said the Anglophone South district has hired about 300 international teachers as well.