With the aim of getting well-trained teachers into the classrooms more quickly and to offer more flexibility to students, Western’s Bachelor of Education (BEd) program will be moving to a new model that allows for a robust curriculum in a consecutive 16-month time-frame beginning in September 2024.
Approved by Senate, the program will remain the same length (four terms) but rather than being spread out over two years, it will be compressed into four consecutive terms by eliminating the summer break and moving the course content for terms three and four online.
“We know school boards are facing challenges with teacher shortages, and we hope this shift will bring more qualified teachers more quickly into classrooms,” said Education Dean Donna Kotsopoulos.
As part of the change, the program is also being realigned to offer more research and alternative field experience placements to give students exposure to a wide range of opportunities to learn. With BEd students spread out at more than 40 school boards across the province for their practical experiences, moving the third- and fourth-term courses online allows for more flexibility for students who are doing their practicum and alternative field experiences outside of London.
“As a professional program requiring previous university study, coupled with the high demand for teachers, we’ve seen an increase in the number of students who are at different stages of their lives, have families and come from a diversity of backgrounds,” said Kathy Hibbert, associate dean of teacher education. “Moving to a 16-month, partially remote blended program, will allow our students to more easily complete their coursework in the locations they are doing their fieldwork and practicum experiences across the province.”
All the core disciplinary and pedagogical courses, including those that require physical engagement and hands-on learning such as music, physical education and art, will be offered in the first two terms in-person.
The proposed revisions also reflect expected changes coming from the Ministry of Education which call for additional courses in literacy and mathematics. Specifically, there are two new courses that expand on recommendations that emerged from the Ontario Human Rights’ ‘Right to Read’ Inquiry. These courses expand teaching of evidence-based skills and strategies for readers who struggle in both the elementary and secondary panels.
The changes also include a two-term research project culminating in a capstone project and a course on ecojustice and climate action in education that fulfills a new requirement from the Ontario College of Teachers.
These changes come into effect for the BEd cohort that starts their studies in September 2024. Students currently enrolled in the BEd program will complete it based on the existing format.