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Class Cap Guidelines: An Overview

September 12, 2017
Here's what you need to know: 
 
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has established class caps from Grades Primary to Grades 12. Class caps must be in place by September 30th of each school year. It is understood, there may be enrolment fluctuations throughout the year after this time.
 

Definitions: 

  • Soft cap is defined as the stated cap (i.e. P-2 = 20, Gr 3-6 = 25, Gr 7-9 = 28 and Gr 10-12 = 30).
     
  • Hard cap is defined as the stated cap + 2 students.   
     

What are the Class Size Guidelines?

  1. Classes for Grades Primary to 2 are capped at 20 students (soft cap), up to 22 students (hard cap). Creating combined classes or multi-age groupings are appropriate to meet this cap.
     
  2. Classes for Grades 3 to 6 are capped at 25 students (soft cap), up to 27 students (hard cap). Creating combined classes or multi-age groupings are appropriate to meet this cap.
     
  3. Classes for Grades 7 to 9 are capped at 28 students (soft cap), up to 30 students (hard cap). Creating combined classes may be appropriate to meet this cap.
     
  4. Classes for Grades 10 to 12 are capped at 30 students (soft cap), up to 32 students (hard cap). Creating combined classes may be appropriate.
     
  5. Combined classes have multiple grade levels in one room. The cap for a combined class shall be the cap for the lowest grade level.
     
  6. Class caps are applicable to all classes, at the applicable level, in all education entities.
     
  7. A class may exceed the hard cap in the following circumstances:
  •  School capacity: When, in order to meet the class size cap, the creation of an additional class or classes is necessary and the school does not have the space to accommodate the additional class(es), the class cap shall not apply.
     
  • Exceptional circumstances: The class size cap can be exceeded in exceptional circumstances in order to accommodate issues of class configuration or class composition.

Procedures when exceeding hard cap

A principal may determine that it is best for their school to have a class(es) exceed the hard cap, related to school capacity (space) or exceptional circumstances. While school capacity (space) is relatively easy to define, it is recognized that “exceptional circumstances” is more difficult to define, and may vary from school to school.

  1. Principal reviews school’s situation and their rationale with their immediate supervisor.
     
  2. Principal reviews school’s situation and rationale with the affected teachers.
     
  3. If there is agreement with the group of affected teachers, the principal will review the situation and rationale with the School Advisory Council (or recognized equivalent).
     
  4. If there is not agreement with the group of affected teachers, the principal contacts their immediate supervisor to discuss ways in which classes do not exceed the hard cap.

How could class caps impact high schools? 

Course selections in high school happen in the spring. Significant course changes during September may create pressure to maintain class caps.

To meet the guidelines: 
  1. Schools should promote Nova Scotia Virtual School (NSVS) courses as a viable and positive option in public school programming.
     
  2. Principals may combine classes in order to meet class size guidelines.
     
  3. Some students may be directed to an alternate course with available space.

Questions?

Schools work diligently to meet cap guidelines by September 30. If a parent/guardian has questions about class sizes at any grade, please contact the school principal. 
 
To learn more about combined classes, click here.