Burnaby school district launches its own education assistant training program

Lower Mainland school districts are snapping up education assistants (EAs) faster than post-secondary institutions can graduate them, according to local school officials, so the Burnaby district has decided to train its own.

Starting in July, the district will offer a full-time education assistant diploma program at the Schou Education Centre on Canada Way through its community and continuing education department.

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“Qualified education assistants are currently in high demand in school districts throughout British Columbia,” states the department’s website. “Our graduates are qualified to work in public and private schools, childcare centres and community drop-in centres.”

A 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision that restored class-size and class-composition provisions to B.C. teachers’ collective agreement is behind the current shortage of EAs in the Lower Mainland, according to assistant superintendent Heather Hart.

“When we had the change in contract language, reverting back to 2002, we needed to provide more educational assistants,” Hart told the NOW.

Training its own EAs will give Burnaby an advantage over others looking to hire, she said.

“They’re doing their practicums in our schools,” Hart said. “We’re training them in what we believe is important, and we also get a heads up on hiring them because we can look at the students moving along and get in front of other districts that might be in line to hire them.”

An in-house training program will also give the district a chance to tailor-make its graduates, according to Hart.

“We’ve designed it ourselves after looking at other models and sort of Burnaby-ized it to make it appropriate for our students,” she said. “It will have all the components of every other model but include specific things we may want to concentrate on.”

The first course will run five days a week, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from July 10 to Nov. 23, at which time aspiring EAs will be placed in practicums.

Application requirements for the $3,600 program include minimum Grade 12 equivalency, English language proficiency and a successful interview.

The district is hosting free information sessions about the program at Burnaby Central Secondary School (6011 Deer Lake Pkwy.) on March 13 and June 26 at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.burnabycce.ca and click on Certificate and Diploma Programs.

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