Increasing class sizes has N.B. shop teacher raising safety concerns
Published Wednesday, August 9, 2017 8:02PM ADT
A veteran shop teacher is expressing concerns about safety due to increasing class sizes.
Ross Phinney has been teaching high school shop classes in the Saint John area for more than two decades, including machine shop and carpentry.
In recent years, he says, the number of students in each class has been inching upward.
"I would say about three years ago was really when I started to see,” says Phinney. “It became 12 or 14 kids and then 14 became 15 or 16 kids."
Because of the potential for student injury, Phinney says shop classes need fewer students and more supervision.
"How do you manage all of those bodies and know what they're doing? As soon as you start working with one body, you're not seeing the others," Phinney says.
Phinney has taken the issue to his supervisors, his union and to WorkSafeNB, to no avail. He also took them to PC MLA Dorothy Shephard.
"His concern seems genuine," says Shephard. "In this day and age when we are having shop classes to a degree like carpentry or welding, we need to know that our staff and our students are protected."
The New Brunswick Department of Education tells CTV News that student safety is paramount.
"The department provides professional learning on an ongoing basis to ensure teachers have access to current safety procedures. Also, embedded in the curriculum and teacher resources are strategies to address the safety of students in school shops," the education department said in a statement.
But on this issue, Phinney says he's following his conscience.
"It's the safety of the kids that is the issue,” he says. “I don't think I could live with walking away and then finding out the next year that some kid got badly hurt because I didn't say anything."
The Department of Education confirms the recommended maximum number of students in a shop class is 22, but Phinney says that number is too many for a class that involved dangerous power tools.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.