Classroom time high
There's plenty of instruction, despite days off

Prescribed Student Instruction Minimums by province/territory (hours and/or days)

The Northwest Territories ranks the highest among all other provinces and territories for hours of student instruction. Here is the breakdown:

Northwest Territories
Kindergarten 485 hours
Grades 1-6 997 hours
Grades 7-12 1,045 hours.
Equivalent to about 190 days.
Grades 1-12 950 hours.
Elementary, junior high 950 hours,
Senior high 1,000 hours.
British Columbia 187 days of instruction, six non-instructional days and one administration day for teachers.
Ontario 194 school days required, at least 185 are instructional days and up to nine days may be for professional activity days for teachers.
Saskatchewan 197 days without professional development days.
Manitoba 200 school days with no more than 10 professional development, conference or administration days.
Quebec 180 days of instructional days, 200 working days for teachers.
New Brunswick 188 instructional days plus seven administration of professional development days.
Nova Scotia 187 instructional days, 195 teacher working days.
Prince Edward Island 186 instructional days for students, 196 school days for teachers.
Newfoundland 185 instructional days for students, 190 school days for teachers.

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 13/98) - Yellowknife schools can kick up their heels for another long weekend.

Students were given yesterday and today off for a teacher's conference. They also get Heritage Day off on Monday and at William McDonald school, Tuesday is yet another day off for the kids while staff participate in a goal-setting session.

With all of the days off, one might ask, when do our students actually have time to learn?

Blake Lyons, executive director of the NWT Teachers' Association, said NWT students are, in fact, in the classroom more than their southern students.

"It's high," said Lyons, referring to instruction hours.

According to a Canadian Teachers Federation survey, the NWT had the most minutes of instruction per year in 1995, when the survey was conducted.

Last year, the NWT Education Act was amended, redefining the minimum requirements of instruction time from days to hours.

The act outlines that kindergarten students should have no more than 570 hours of instruction, not less than 997 a year for grades 1 to 6 and not less than 1,045 for students in grades 7 to 12.

Lyons believes the hours are enough for teachers to instruct children.

"You also have to deal with the attention span of the students, especially teachers who are in the elementary grades, it takes a super effort to keep children interested in the late hours of the afternoon," said Lyons.

Roland Ledoux, assistant superintendent for Yellowknife School District No. 1, said his schools go beyond the minimum requirements of instruction.

For grades 1 through 5 there's 1,008 hours of instruction and 1,085 hours for students in grade 6 to 12.

One extra week, that's our target," said Ledoux.

At the Catholic school board, students spend 194 days in school, five of which are professional development days for teachers.

Don Kindt, assistant superintendent for instruction with the Catholic board, said that with changes to the Education Act last year, the school year has been broken up into hours of instruction and the board is doing its best to meet or beat the act's requirements.

"What parents need to know is that, regardless of days that are used for strategic planning or travelling retreats, we still meet or exceed all the instructional hours. That's the key," said Kindt.

"That concept of a day of school doesn't exist. It's about how many hours of instruction is my child getting," he added.

Catholic school students in grades 6 to 8 get 1,081 hours of instruction, grades 9 to 12 get 1,060, while grades 1 to 5 have the exact minimum hours of instruction, 997, set out by the Education Act.