Langley School District is looking to hire uncertified teachers as districts throughout B.C. struggle to find classroom staff.
Most teachers in B.C. are certified through the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, but it’s not unheard of for rural and remote areas to use uncertified teachers to fill positions.
It’s a new phenomenon for the Lower Mainland. In October, the Chilliwack School District advertised for uncertified teachers teaching on call (TTOCs), also known as substitute teachers, and now the Langley district finds itself needing to try a non-traditional approach to getting staff.
The district has 1,819 teachers and 322 TTOCs, according to Langley Teachers Association president Tanya Kerr.
“The LTA was informed about hiring UTTOCs, and we were given the job posting ahead of time,” she said.
The local teachers union would like to see the district take another route.
“We would much prefer the district to hire additional qualified teachers, and believe they could do more to retain the current teachers and TTOCs,” Kerr said.
There is a new acronym in #bced. The Langley District is looking for “UTTOCs” – Uncertified Teachers Teaching on Call. https://t.co/uZjb8UFRDc We need #bcpoli and districts to publicly report on the impacts, including lost specialist time, of the teacher shortage and take action.
— BC Teachers’ Federation (@bctf) January 12, 2023
The union is keeping an eye on this new development.
“We are in the process of drafting a letter of understanding to address some of the issues related to hiring uncertified teachers,” Kerr explained.
The number of UTTOCs is expected to be low this term, said Langley School District spokesperson Joanne Abshire.
“As this is a first for the district, there will be very few term positions offered which will give the district an opportunity to review and assess its effectiveness during that time,” Abshire said. “Prior to posting these positions, the district reached out to districts such as Chilliwack, to learn about the success they are having with UTTOCs in their schools.”
The UTTOCs will receive training and job shadowing from existing TTOCs as they come into the district.
“The use of UTTOCs will only happen when the call-out list of TTOCs has been exhausted,” Abshire said.
She also said that those hired through the program will have to have some kind of background in working with children, including some kind of teaching history or volunteer experience, as well as being university graduates with relevant educational backgrounds.
“We extend our gratitude to the Langley Teachers’ Association for collaborating with the District and supporting this new and temporary solution,” Abshire said.
She mentioned that the ongoing shortage of TTOCS – which is impacting a number of fast-growing communities in the Lower Mainland – means that when a teacher on call can’t be found for a particular position, that classroom has to be filled by someone else.
That can mean the gaps are filled by administrators, district staffers, and other teachers.
Any incoming UTTOCs will also need a Letter of Permission from the BC Teacher Regulation Branch. The applicant pays the $200 cost of obtaining the letter.
According to the provincial government, a Letter of Permission is a special permit that allows someone to teach without a certificate in a particular school district, independent school authority or for a First Nations Council for up to one school year.
“It is only to be used when a certified teacher is not available to fill a vacant position,” the province said on its website.
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