Wait-lists persist at Peace Arch Elementary for early French immersion.

French teachers in short supply in Surrey

Record-setting enrolment in French immersion is putting Surrey School District in a staffing crunch.

Record-setting enrolment in French immersion is putting Surrey School District in a staffing crunch.

A week before the new school year began, Surrey was still in need of teachers for eight French-immersion classrooms, according to district spokesperson Doug Strachan. The district managed to fill the positions by the time doors opened Tuesday.

“French teachers are a particularly difficult group to recruit. There’s not a lot of them out there,” he said.

On Wednesday, Peace Arch News reported that wait-lists continue for early French immersion programs on the Semiahmoo Peninsula. Laronde Elementary has a waiting list of 26 for kindergarten entry and 32 for Grade 1 entry. At Peace Arch Elementary, the wait-list for early immersion is 41 for both kindergarten and Grade 1.

Strachan said the district actively recruits graduating teachers “right out of the schools, if we can,” and also attempts to lure teachers from Quebec and elsewhere in Canada.

District staff stay connected with universities, he added, noting the district has a representative on University of B.C.’s education program advisory committee.

Strachan said the district is also working with universities to encourage student teachers to specialize in French, and also encourages local high school French-immersion grads to consider a career in teaching.

Recruiting qualified French teachers isn’t the only challenge in Surrey.

“We have trouble getting enough teachers generally. It’s not just French teachers,” noted Strachan, adding the district struggles to keep a full roster of teachers on its call-in list.

A bigger challenge in offering French immersion is a lack of space to establish new programs, Strachan added.

Glyn Lewis, executive director of Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon, told PAN that growth in French-immersion participation is “pretty much consistent across the province,” and said addressing the shortage of qualified French teachers is the biggest challenge facing districts.

“The popularity of the program is putting significant pressure on the post-secondary institutions to supply enough teachers to fill all the new classrooms. This is something we’ve flagged with the provincial government and the teacher education programs.”

The scale of this challenge is huge, said Lewis, adding it’s going to take “some real concerted effort” to overcome it.

“They seem to get it, but the response is still slow-moving.”

On Wednesday, Canadian Parents for French issued a report showing French-immersion enrolment in Surrey stood at 3,398 students at the start of the school year – up from 2,768 students a decade ago. That’s a new record, according to the advocacy group, which noted province-wide enrolment has increased for 18 consecutive years, creating a shortage of qualified French language teachers.

In a letter to the province this spring, Canadian Parents for French acknowledged the Ministry of Education plans to study the issue and that France is exploring teacher exchanges with B.C., but called on the province to do more.

Canadian Parents for French is urging the province to collect better data on the demand of teachers by discipline, compel post-secondary institutions to tailor teacher-education programs with needs, better promote in-demand teaching disciplines and consider forgiving student loans to new teachers with educational backgrounds in high-demand disciplines.

Just Posted

Auditor general to release ‘executive expenses’ report for Surrey School District

Report is to determine whether employer-paid expenses ‘comply’ with applicable district policies

Grieving South Surrey mom ‘disappointed’ province not moving quicker to fix recovery homes

Min. Judy Darcy says new regulations, effective Dec. 1, follow ‘many horror stories’

B.C.’s health, addictions ministers to announce changes to recovery-house rules

Safety, quality of care targeted; South Surrey parent whose son overdosed ‘curious’ about amendments

North Delta MLA Ravi Kahlon cleared of conflict allegations

Commissioner finds MLA’s father’s taxi licence doesn’t equal a conflict of interest while working on ride-sharing regulations

Surrey school district unveils its first rainbow crosswalk

Superintendent Jordan Tinney says colour crossing ‘a statement that everyone is welcome in Surrey’

Pickle me this: All the outrageous foods at this year’s PNE

Pickled cotton candy, deep-fried chicken skins, and ramen corndogs are just a start

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Mammoth sturgeon catch was ‘a fish of a lifetime’ for Chilliwack guide

Sturgeon was so enormous it tied for largest specimen every tagged and released in the Fraser

Fraser River sea bus proposed to hook into TransLink system

Maple Ridge councillor just wants to start discussion

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

Body found believed to be missing Chilliwack senior with dementia

Police say case is now in the hands of the coroner

Most Read

l -->