[Note: The Chartboot plugin used to create charts and graphs is no longer maintained; new charts were prepared using interactive Google Sheets in October 2015. These differ somewhat from the previous charts, but the same datasets are used]
[Note: Data and commentary updated April 2015, to reflect data added up to Sept 30, 2014 (i.e. 2014/2015 school year]
Demographic trends in New Brunswick show an aging population, with a decline in school-age population over time. This has a number of implications, including school closings and consolidations, reduced employment opportunities for teachers, and education budgets. Data from Statistics Canada Cansim Table 477-0025 and GNB Education Department statistical summaries show a troubling pattern. Between 2002 and 2012, student populations (elementary and high schools) declined by 16% in New Brunswick compared to 7% for Canada as a whole. The decline in student populations from 2002 to 2014 in New Brunswick was 18%.
In the charts below, scrolling your mouse along the lines will cause the value for that variable / year to be displayed.
Educator numbers in New Brunswick have declined by 6.4% (as of 2014/2015) since reaching a peak in 2008. Between 2002 and 2012, educator populations rose by 4% in New Brunswick, compared to increases of over 13% in Canada as a whole (Cansim Table 477-0028). As can be seen in the last chart below, trends in student/educator ratios in Canada and New Brunswick are similar, although there is, on average, one more student per educator in NB compared to the country as a whole. In both Canada and New Brunswick, ratios appear to have stabilized in recent years. Although smaller class size (i.e. fewer students per educator) is often thought to produce better student outcomes, this assumption might not be correct.
Numbers of schools have also declined in New Brunswick, but not as quickly as student numbers. Data from GNB Education Department statistical summaries indicate that overall school numbers have declined by about 4% between September 2007 and September 2014 – a net loss of 12 schools. Compare that with a decline of 10% in student population for the same period. Anglophone and francophone school numbers declined by similar amounts during this time. It is not surprising that school closings proceed at a slower pace than declines in numbers of students and educators; the first response to declining student numbers would probably be reducing class size, followed by reducing the number of classrooms per grade. School closings also face resistance from the local community. On the other hand, data from Nova Scotia suggest that our Maritime neighbour does a better job of reducing school numbers as enrolments decline. Between 2005 and 2012, student numbers declined by 14% in Nova Scotia. School numbers are harder to find, but school numbers appear to have fallen from 432 in 2009 to 396 in 2014, a decline of 8%.by