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Temporary teaching certificates a 'short term solution to a significant problem' amid teaching shortage

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Teaching candidates in their second year at Western University are being considered for a new temporary certification.

As long as the student receives a recommendation from the faculty and has completed three practicum placements they will be eligible for the certificate.

“This is a short-term solution to a really significant problem,” said Donna Kotsopoulos, the dean of Western’s Faculty of Education.

“It is quite possible that a child is going into a classroom where the teacher is not a qualified teacher,” she says.

The pandemic has led to teachers being absent from the classroom. Other challenges include an increase in retirements and fewer graduates, which has greatly affected the staffing shortages in local schools.

“It all lends to an instability in the system and it makes the job that we do even harder in terms of delivering the programs that the kids need to get the learning that they need," said Craig Smith, the president of Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Thames Valley Teacher Local.

Smith believes teaching candidates will get positive on-the-job experience by working in a school environment early.

"We have teacher candidates who bring a great energy and a real interest in being teachers," he said.

The London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) is one of several boards taking on teaching candidates this year.

Vincent Romeo, the director of education for the LDCSB told CTV News that its 12 current teaching candidates have been incredibly helpful during this time, nine of whom are from Western University.

"We aren't sure what we would have done without those temporary teaching replacements," said Romeo. "We find ourselves facing a teacher shortage and they have helped fill those gaps."

According to Romeo, the combination of teachers approaching retirement with an increase in enrollment in London and the surrounding area has exacerbated the shortage.

Not having qualified teachers on hand will lead to learning difficulties for students due to a delay in proper education, said Kotsopoulos.

“Some school boards, we are hearing that principals are stepping into classrooms,” she said. “Schools are in dire need of supply teachers.”

Kotsopoulos said she has been lobbying the government to expand the number of seats that they can fill for teacher education, as the school is limited with how many students they can admit. “It's a restricted program, we need to see growth,” she says.

Approximately 200 students at Western have received the certificate.

The Thames Valley District School Board is one of several school boards which have benefited from the temporary certification program.

“Thames Valley currently has 26 employees who have obtained a temporary certificate- this includes both elementary and secondary,” said Linda Nicholls, the superintendent of human resources with the TVDSB.

“We need a longer-term plan to educate more teachers and that's the least that children in our Ontario schools deserve,” said Kotsopoulos.

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