A guide to safety in the classroom

Just as an employer has the responsibility to provide a safe workplace, the education ministry has the obligation to ensure student safety.

Building a stronger and more prosperous British Columbia will take more than academic excellence.

If we want a diverse and sustainable economy, we’re going to have to get our hands a little dirty. We’ll need to ensure our young people have the skills necessary to tackle a world that gets more complex with every day.

Various governments have acknowledged the need for aggressive skills training. The recent ship building contract awarded to B.C. represents the latest opportunity for a well-trained and technologically proficient workforce.

For more than a decade Chilliwack school district has been at the fore in industrial and trades training.

But as school budgets continue to shrink, that pressure is being felt in the classroom – not only in Chilliwack, but across the province. (See story: Class size concerns forecast danger ahead)

The issue is class size, and whether teachers have the resources to provide training in a safe environment. Clearly many teachers are not convinced they do. They’ve recently authored a best practices guide, aimed at telling government what they need to provide a safe and successful learning experience.

Certainly any classroom where textbooks are replaced by heavy machinery, class size and composition takes on additional importance. While a crowded English class might affect student performance, the consequences of a crowded shop class could be fatal.

That’s why education officials – who will be meeting with Chilliwack teacher Eric Munshaw next week – need to listen.

British Columbia needs a well-trained work force, and is moving in that direction with additional resources being allocated at the post-secondary level.

But the provinces cannot ignore the thousands of school children who are gaining their first exposure to a trade at the middle school or secondary school level.

Just as an employer has the responsibility to provide a safe workplace, the education ministry has the obligation to ensure student learning is as safe as it can possibly be.