Province may change policy for hiring teachers
In 2012, the Ontario government implemented Regulation 274, changing the way that school boards hire teachers. The purpose of the regulation was to create a standardized hiring practice that removes the potential for nepotism or favouritism in hiring practices, and creates greater transparency, fairness, and accountability.
An independent evaluation of the policy, conducted in 2014, found that while parts of it were working well, there were some problems in its implementation.
In January, 2019, the province announced that it is considering changes to the regulation, and launched a consultation. The proposed changes will eliminate some of the seniority requirements, and require boards to consider equity and diversity when they are hiring.
What is the current hiring policy?
Under Regulation 274 school boards are required to:
- Maintain a roster of occasional teachers (OTs) and establish a separate long-term occasional (LTO) teachers list, ranked based on their seniority.
- Post long-term occasional teacher positions on their website.
- When they are hiring someone for a long-term or permanent assignment, interview the five most senior, qualified applicants from its LTO list who have completed a long-term assignment of at least four months without having been judged unsatisfactory.
- Offer the position to one of the teachers from the interviews – unless none of them meet the qualifications.
What are the benefits of the current policy?
According to the independent review, the regulation helps to clarify what had sometimes been an opaque process, by ensuring that in all school boards:
- Job postings are circulated in a way that makes it easier for anyone who is interested and eligible to apply; and clarifies the steps in the application process.
- Interviews can be conducted for multiple vacancies at the same time.
- Lists of pre-screened and pre-interviewed applicants for LTO positions are maintained, so that they can be assigned without further interviews— if they apply, have the right qualifications, and are in the top five for seniority.
- Unsuccessful applicants can get feedback on their interviews and recommendations for improvement.
What are the challenges with the current policy?
School board associations, principals’ councils, and the outside evaluator have identified a number of problems with Regulation 274. Among the issues:
- It is possible for teachers to be on the LTO list, and even hired for permanent positions, without ever having been observed actually teaching.
- Teachers who move from one board to another lose their seniority completely, and have to go back to the bottom of the list.
- It excludes part-time teachers, and adult and continuing education teachers, even if they work for the school board.
- The requirement to interview five candidates for each job creates a significant burden for principals.
What is the focus of the consultation?
The province has proposed changes to the model, but they want to hear from parents, teachers, principals, and others in the education system.
Among the proposed changes:
- Allow teachers to apply for jobs in any Ontario school board.
- Remove the minimum number of interviewees required.
- Remove at least some of the seniority requirement, which focuses on “time on the list” as opposed to teaching experience, and base hiring more on teacher qualifications.
- Eliminate the separate lists, and instead make it mandatory for boards to have one hiring pool of teachers eligible for any available position, including occasional, long-term occasional, or permanent.
- The province will develop a Policy and Program Memorandum (PPM) on equity and diversity in hiring practices, and introduce regulations enabling boards to include diversity and equity considerations when they are hiring.
To participate in the Ministry of Education consultation, send your submission to [email protected] by May 31, 2019.