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The Arts: From the People for Education Annual Report on Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools 2011

January 5, 20125 January 2012

Arts education

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Based on a survey of 1,027 elementary and secondary schools (21% of all schools in Ontario), this brief report highlights the situation of the arts in Ontario schools. The report argues that “Ontario has an extensive arts curriculum, but no specific funding for arts programs or specialists”. There is funding for program enhancements in schools ($9,650 per school) that could be used for arts programming, but the report maintains that “many boards report that this funding is instead added to their general revenue to fund core areas, such as building maintenance”.

The report notes that 47% of elementary schools have a music teacher, a percentage that “has increased over the last eight years, but still remains below the 58% reported in 1998, when the provincial funding formula was introduced”. While 67% of elementary schools in the Greater Toronto Area have specialist music teachers, only 33% of elementary schools in Northern Ontario and 28% of elementary schools in Eastern Ontario have specialist music teachers.

The survey found that, “of the schools with music teachers, 52% report their teachers have taken Additional Qualifications (AQ) courses accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers, and just over one quarter report their specialist music teachers have either a music degree or some form of advanced training.” On the other hand, 10% of the schools with music teachers indicated that their “specialist music teacher has no special qualifications”. The report argues that “teaching subjects such as [music and visual arts] may be difficult for many non-specialist teachers” because of the technical skills and knowledge required.

The survey found that nearly two-thirds of elementary and secondary schools (61%) “rely on fundraising to cover the costs of things like musical instruments, art supplies and other forms of arts enrichment”, while “53% of secondary schools charge fees for art courses and 26% charge fees for music courses”.

The report recommends that “the province provide specific and targeted funding for arts programs and specialists in elementary and secondary school”, that professional development in the arts and other supports be provided to generalist teachers, and that school boards be required to “report on their programs that are funded through the Program Enhancement Grant”.

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