Attracting Teachers to Northern Ontario Communities

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Educational research argues the most substantial factor in providing a suitable education is the ability to provide a stable and qualified staff (Roberts, 2004). Currently many northern Ontario school boards are unable to adequately staff their schools. With the inability to locate and retain qualified teachers the quality of education being offered in many schools in northern Ontario is inadequate. It is has become evident that action needs to be taken as many students in these schools are at a clear disadvantage. What makes this problem particularly important is currently southern Ontario is flooded with qualified teachers unable to find work in their profession. Despite the many young and highly qualified teaching professionals many schools located in northern Ontario struggle obtaining teachers.

The following is a study examining the three main difficulties northern Ontario school boards are facing 1) staffing schools; 2) retaining teachers and; 3) and attaining qualified teachers, looking at why this problem exists and possible ways to better the situation. The study will argue that by re-examining their recruiting strategies and aggressively attracting young professionals northern Ontario schools can improve their current and future circumstances.

The paper will begin by providing background information on northern Ontario, its educational system and the current teaching situation in Ontario as a whole. Next, the paper will address and examine the problem of staffing rural schools on an international level. Afterwards, through the use of a questionnaire, developed using applicable theories from contemporary literature, the study will examine the reasons why northern Ontario is unable to attract teachers. The paper concludes by outlining strategies for obtaining and retaining qualified teachers to under-serviced communities. Throughout the study, maps of the northern Ontario region of Kenora will be examined to provide further insight. This region was chosen as it is located North-western Ontario yet has a large enough population to draw some useful census data from.

Background

Before examining the social circumstances of northern Ontario it is first important define the geographical boundaries as it has no legislated borders leaving it open to interpretation. For the purpose of this study northern Ontario will be defined as the Greater Sudbury Division and the following districts: Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Algoma, Cochrane, Manitoulin, Sudbury, Timiskaming, Nipissing, and Parry Sound as this is how the federal government currently classifies the region.

Northern Ontario may be characterized as geographically vast yet sparsely populated. It accounts for around 89% of the land mass of Ontario, however, represents only 6.5% of the total population (Census, 2006). The majority of northern Ontario s communities fall within the definition of a rural and small town as defined by Statistics Canada (Southcott, 2006). In recent years out-migration rates have been increasing (Southcott, 2007). Northern Ontario has few migrants compared to Ontario as a whole and almost all migrants come from within Ontario (Southcott, 2007). Moreover, northern Ontario has a highly mobile population (Map 1.1 Population mobility status). The mobility of the northern Ontario population is mostly to do with the current economic situation. This high rate of mobility and migration will only further hurt the already struggling economy.

In recent years, the northern Ontario economy has encountered substantial challenges. This is because its economy is largely based in resource industries (mining and forest products) with many communities relying on a single industry. With the strong Canadian dollar and increased global competition many northern Ontario communities have fallen on tough times. They have been particularly hurt by weak demands and soft commodity prices during the recession (Ministry of finance, 2010). Furthermore, employment in northern Ontario has fallen significantly, more than twice the rate of the province as a whole (Ministry of finance, 2010). This lack of economic prosperity makes northern Ontario an unappealing place to reside for many individuals.

Due to northern Ontario s challenging circumstances, Ontario has in the past, and is now, implementing a number of initiatives to improve the region s economic and educational conditions. Currently in a 2010 report Ontario s Ministry of Finance stated education is a top priority as a well-educated workforce enhances the provinces economic growth and competitiveness. Furthermore, the Ontario 2010 budget outlines a number of initiatives to improve infrastructure, create jobs and promote economic growth (Ontario Ministry of Finance, 2010). Despite these initiatives it is clear that northern Ontario like many other rural regions is one that has major economic problems.

One distinct feature of northern Ontario is its large aboriginal population. There are 76,725 aboriginal people who represent about 9.28% of northern Ontario s total population, 22% of which are between 5-19 (Moazzami, 2003). The aboriginal communities face a number of unique and difficult circumstances that have become major problems in the northern Ontario region. It has been well documented that these aboriginal communities face relatively low employment rates, lower education levels, and lower incomes (Southcott, 2004). Accordingly, these communities face the greatest economic and social challenges. The effects of these economic and social challenges on teachers in an aboriginal community will be discussed in detail later.

Northern Ontario education system

Northern Ontario has the dubious distinction of being home to a poor educational system, often characterized by high dropout rates, low student engagement and high teacher turnover (Southcott, 2004; Heimbecker, Minner & Prater, 2000). The education system is clearly failing and can be made apparent by the lack of individuals with a high school diploma (Map 1.2 High school graduates). In northern Ontario 33% of individuals have less than a high school diploma. In aboriginal communities the number is significantly higher 53.2%. For Ontario as a whole 25.6% of individuals have less than a high school diploma. Furthermore, only 10.7% of northern Ontario residents have a university degree. This number is 2.6% among aboriginal communities. This is in stark contrast to the Ontario wide average where 19.2% of individuals have a university degree (Southcott, 2004). It is clear that the students in these communities for many reasons are at a clear disadvantage.

Finding teachers is especially hard in the aboriginal communities as the situation of many of these communities is dire. The communities are often remote and face serious social problems such as poverty, poor nutrition, family breakdown, substance abuse, and violence (Wotherspoon, 2006). The schools in these communities, because of the circumstances, require a great deal from the teachers. Teachers regularly encounter school community tension, lack of resources, student disengagement, parents disregard for school, and sometimes threats to physical safety (Wotherspoon, 2006; Heimbecker, Minner & Prater, 2000). Furthermore, teachers due to lack of staff, support and resources are overworked and can feel like they are having limited effectiveness. New teachers in these communities can easily become overwhelmed by the many pressures in and out of classroom. Furthermore, if the teachers are not aboriginal they may feel alienated from the community. As a result it is extremely hard to obtain and retain teachers in these communities.

Many northern Ontario school boards have recognized the struggle in obtaining teachers as well as the difficulties teachers face when teaching in these areas. As a result school districts are offering programs such as mentorship and professional development programs for new teachers (Rainbow District School Board, 2010). The programs put in place are helpful to supporting new teachers, however, despite the efforts attracting and retaining teachers still remains a serious problem.

Ontario s current educational landscape

In a 2010 report by Liz Papadopoulos, the chair of the Ontario College of teachers, it was stated that there are roughly 7,000 more certified and qualified teachers entering the teaching profession each year than positions to fill. It is becoming increasingly hard for teachers to find work in their profession with the job market getting drastically worse each year. This alarming trend is expected to continue for years (Tibbetts, 2008). Despite Ontario s College of Teachers move to decrease enrolment, US border colleges and teaching education programs abroad continue to play a role in creating a surplus of teachers (McIntyre, 2008). The effects of the surplus of teachers are seen particularly in urban areas where teaching positions are in high demand. In 2007, Toronto received more than 10,000 applicants for less than 1,000 jobs (Tibbetts, 2008). The only demand for educators appears to be for French language teachers.

This low job success rate has caused many highly qualified education graduates to undergo years of volunteering, supplying, and long term occasional teaching before landing a full time teaching position (McIntyre, 2007). This lack of employment and underemployment has caused many new teachers great amounts of stress and frustration.

Staffing rural schools internationally

The problem of staffing rural schools is not isolated to Northern Ontario; rather it is a global concern (McEwan, 1999; Sharplin, 2010; Smithers & Robinson, 2000). Despite the negative ramifications of this seemingly global dilemma, it serves this study by 1) helping to overcome certain empirical gaps in the literature concerning northern Ontario; and 2) allows a certain degree of comparative analysis between northern Ontario and other geographic regions. Therefore, to help inform this study, literature from multiple countries will be discussed to demonstrate the prevalence of this dilemma in rural communities. The three major problems consistently addressed are: 1) staffing rural schools; 2) retaining teachers; and 3) finding qualified teachers (Roberts, 2004; Jimerson, 2003; McClure & Reeves, 2004; Monk, 2007). These three problems are the same as those in northern Ontario. However, the problem of unqualified teachers in northern Ontario solely refers to inexperienced teachers. An unqualified teacher internationally usually implies individuals without the proper academic qualifications to teach.

Internationally, many of the rural and remote areas tend to have a disproportionate amount of young teachers (Sharplin, 2010). This also parallels the concerns of northern Ontario. These teachers are seen as being under qualified and receive lower pay and benefits. These new teachers have an extremely high rate of resigning after a short period of time; many not staying over 3 years (Sharplin, 2010). This turnover puts students at a disadvantage as teachers are unable to fully develop their teaching craft. Students also do not have any consistency in their educators and may begin to feel undervalued.

The literature also consistently addresses problems that make it hard to staff and retain qualified teachers at rural schools. These problems are tied to rural areas tendency to:

1. Pay teachers less;

2. Make individuals feel geographically isolated;

3. Make individuals feel socially isolated;

4. Have difficult working conditions;

5. Have a lack of career advancement opportunities;

6. Have a higher cost of living;

7. Have harsher climates/weather;

8. Are distanced from larger communities and family;

9. Have inadequate shopping and other amenities. (Roberts, 2004; Jimerson, 2003; McClure & Reeves, 2004; Monk, 2007)

These many problems take a toll on the teachers and also deter teachers from teaching in a rural area, especially when there are teaching opportunities elsewhere. These problems also are faced by teachers teaching in northern Ontario. The current conditions have led to rural and remote teachers reporting a high rate of stress and depression (Sharplin, 2010). This stress is especially felt by newly appointed teachers. It is clear that the situation of staffing rural schools has many deeply engrained causes that when considered together seem insurmountable.

Incentives

Researchers have concluded that if rural schools expect to be able to attract qualified teachers similar to that of urban areas monetary and non-monetary incentives are required (McEwan , 1999). The proposed solutions are consistent among much of the literature, these usually include:

1. Competitive salaries and benefits;

2. Signing bonuses;

3. Bonded scholarships and/or tuition assistance;

4. Loans and loan forgiveness;

5. Moving expenses and/or relocation reimbursement;

6. Housing incentives;

7. Tax credits for teachers;

8. Increased leave with period of service;

9. Community and in class programs to support new teachers;

10. Grow-your-own teacher;

11. Improved recruitment and hiring practices;

12. Improved school-level support for teachers. (Roberts, 2004; Jimerson, 2003; McClure & Reeves, 2004; Monk, 2007; Smithers & Robinson, 2000)

Moreover, for northern Ontario schools in First Nations communities school boards have been trying to attain more First Nations teachers and teachers who understand their culture (Heimbecker, Minner & Prater, 2000; Anderson, Horton, Orwick, 2004). Some other interesting teacher attainment strategies found were targeted scholarships, directed towards individuals who fit the criteria (individuals from northern Ontario and will move back home) they are looking for at an early age and establishing career management planning for these people (Mills, Martino & Lingard, 2004)

These many solutions appear unsuccessful or unfeasible to put in place. Though the same recommendations are found in multiple articles, evidence suggesting that they have worked in practice is not apparent. Some initiatives have reported to have limited success (tuition assistance and bonded scholarships), while others may need time to assess the outcome (grow your own teacher, and attaining First Nations teachers) (Roberts, 2004). What has become clear out of these reports though is that this is not a problem that can be met with a quick fix. Rather, a new perspective and an aggressive approach to obtaining and retaining teachers are needed.

One style of attracting teachers that was of particular interest was that of independent schools. In a study conducted in 2000 Smithers, and Robinson, looked into why independent schools had less trouble finding top quality teachers. They concluded that a major factor was the schools are able to create conditions to attract the staff they are looking for. They do their best to satisfy the teachers working life and provide the right factors (class size, salary, time for preparation and marking) to make teaching enjoyable. I believe that this idea of creating the ideal conditions that teachers are looking for inside and outside of the classroom is a great start to attracting and retaining teachers.

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Purpose of study

As the data on northern Ontario has demonstrated the education system and the economy is facing some major challenges that will be difficult to overcome. Northern Ontario needs to make some positive changes to prosper in the future. Though currently changes are being made to improve their economy and the education if they are unable to find teachers it is clear positive change will be a difficult task. Without being able to offer a suitable education for the individuals living there northern Ontario will be trapped in their current circumstances.

Though there are numerous studies on how to retain teachers there are few new ideas and there are little results. The purpose of this study is to bring a fresh perspective that takes into consideration the current teaching situation in southern Ontario. The small scale of this study will prevent this from informing change but this study will hopefully draw out some useful themes to attracting qualified teachers. This study is of value as the circumstances right now are unique and as I will argue can be capitalized on.?

Research

To help guide this study, two online questionnaires were developed. Survey one (appendix A) consisted of 17 questions relating to an individual s background, teaching status and willingness to teach in northern Ontario. A total of 36 individuals completed the questionnaire. The survey was taken electronically by newly qualified teachers in the teaching field or trying to enter into the field. The first questionnaire was completed almost exclusively by individuals who live and were raised in southern Ontario. It was thought that the perspective of individuals living in northern Ontario was missing from the study so a second questionnaire was released focusing on the perspective of individuals living in northern Ontario (Appendix B). The sixteen individuals who participated in the survey currently reside northern Ontario. Questionnaire two consisted of six questions focusing on if they are likely to teach in northern Ontario and how long they would consider staying. The participants of both studies remain anonymous. Of those individuals that began the survey, 100% completed it.

Ethical considerations and reliability of data

It was of utmost importance that the data collected in this study were both reliable and ethical. Multiple steps were taken to ensure both these factors were considered during the entire process of the study. It should also be noted that due to the small scale of the study there are clear limitations on the scope of the findings.

It was important in this study to acknowledge the potential for coercion of participants (real or perceived), as the participants were acquaintances. Realizing this, measures were taken to limit and remove the possibility of participants feeling obliged to take the questionnaire or do anything they were not comfortable with. First, the participants were informed that participation in this study was optional and anonymous. The individuals who completed or didn t complete the survey could not be tracked in any way. The questions were designed to gather information only necessary to the study. Second, it was made clear that the participants did not have to answer any questions they did not feel comfortable answering. The program used to collect the responses allowed participants to skip any question they wanted to in the study. Third, the questionnaire was short and simple to complete to ensure participants did not have to take much time or effort out of their day. The questionnaire was also taken online so it could be done in the privacy of their homes at their leisure. As well, the participants were also informed of the nature of the study and the uses of the data gathered. The participants were all over 18 years of age and therefore able to consent to the questionnaire on their own behalf.

Attempts were made to limit threats to reliability within the study. However, it is possible that some data collected could be skewed. It must be addressed that for the questionnaire convenience sampling was used. Without a budget it was found that the only feasible way to gather a sufficient amount of data would be to sample acquaintances of the author. As well, the questionnaire was taken by a limited population. The amount of respondents was relatively small. Moreover, the individuals who took the questionnaire are all in their early 20s. As a result of these three factors there are limitations on the types of larger connections that can be drawn from the study. This study offers insight into the experiences of these individuals but caution should be taken before generalizing theories to the larger population of individuals in the teaching profession.

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Discussion of Findings

This chapter reflects the findings of this investigation as it relates to desires of new teachers regarding employment in northern Ontario. After completion of the questionnaire and data analysis, relevant themes regarding teachers thoughts about teaching in northern Ontario became apparent. Some themes supported the conclusions drawn from the literature, while others appeared to contradict it. In the following section the major themes made visible through the analysis of the questionnaires will be explored in relation to obtaining and retaining teachers.

Obtaining teachers

The first questionnaire focusing mainly on individuals from southern Ontario found some interesting results regarding their thoughts on teaching in northern Ontario. Many teachers, despite the current teaching conditions, do not desire to teach in northern Ontario. Graph 1.1 demonstrates the majority of individuals surveyed have not and do not plan to teach in northern Ontario. This is what was expected and is consistent with the literature on rural schools (Roberts, 2004; Jimerson, 2003; McClure & Reeves, 2004; Monk, 2007). Two of the individuals who planed or have taught in northern Ontario were in fact from northern Ontario.

The absence of any aspiration to teach in northern Ontario was found to be the result of a variety of reasons deterring individuals comfortable in southern Ontario from moving north. Findings uncovered in the survey include, but are not limited to: lack of spousal support (Graph 1.2), absence of friends and family, weather and isolation (Graph 1.3) among other reasons. It is clear that individuals from southern Ontario are not attracted to the living situation and conditions in northern Ontario. This once again supports much of the literature on this subject. Many rural areas have the same dissuasions that are difficult to overcome to attract workers (Roberts, 2004; Jimerson, 2003; McClure & Reeves, 2004; Monk, 2007). It is extremely hard for these areas to overcome these challenges even when offering other incentives such as increased salaries. Something more than just extrinsic motivations are needed to draw these individuals in (Florida, 2002; Smithers & Robinson, 2000).

Despite many individuals not being attracted to northern Ontario, it is important to draw your attention to the number of individuals who if unemployed would consider teaching in northern Ontario. This is a hopeful statistic that may indicate that when out of a job and with some coercion these new teachers could be persuaded to teach in northern Ontario (Graph 1.4). Currently this describes the teaching situation, as many teachers are out of a job trying to break into the field. This circumstance is unique to Ontario and is relatively unexplored in the literature. If northern Ontario can capitalize on the amount of new teachers out of a job they may be able to attain many workers.

It is also important to look at the number of teachers in this study who are currently unhappy with their teaching status, over a quarter of the sample population. This, I would argue, is likely to do with the current teaching situation in southern Ontario. There is currently a surplus of teachers leaving many unemployed, substituting, or working in long term occasional positions. As stated earlier there are roughly 7,000 more certified and qualified teachers entering the profession each year then there are job vacancies (Papadopoulos, 2010). It is becoming increasingly hard for teachers to find work in their profession with the trend getting drastically worse each year. This is one of the major motivations that will draw teachers to northern Ontario that other incentives such as wage increases can t compete with.

Despite the grim statistics teaching in northern Ontario currently remains a relatively unexplored option. Teachers would much prefer to substitute teach or further their education (Graph 1.6). The questionnaire found that the only less desirable options would be to find a new career or work in an unrelated job until a position opens up. However, with the current teaching situation even finding a substitute position in southern Ontario can be extremely difficult.

What is interesting to note is that it appears as though teaching abroad is more desirable then teaching in northern Ontario. Though teaching abroad would likely put these individual further away from their families and friends (the #1 reason that would deter people from teaching in northern Ontario). Teaching abroad likely offers more attractive benefits, better weather and less expensive cost of living. Also it gives teachers a chance to travel, observe different cultures and experience new things while teaching. The individual can pick a location that fits their lifestyle, and this is what attracts young qualified professionals (Florida, 2002).

Many of the destinations abroad offer the culture that young teachers are looking for. Other young people are usually present in these areas, nightlife is easy to find and there is much to see and do. This may prove that the real number one reason people don t want to go to northern Ontario is because they feel as though its culture does not fit their lifestyle. This will be a difficult perspective to change; however, I would argue with the planning northern Ontario school boards can improve their image.

Retaining teachers

Though the statistics gathered for obtaining teachers in northern Ontario look relatively optimistic, retaining teachers does not appear to be as easy. At the very most almost 90% of teachers would stay under two years. Furthermore, no teachers would want to remain there permanently and only 14% are unsure. This leads me to believe that teachers trained in southern Ontario are only interested in using teaching in northern Ontario as a stepping stone to obtaining a job in southern Ontario. Two years is not a significant time to teach in a region. In two years teachers are still new and are learning about the school, the community and the students. These teachers are also new to teaching and the first two years will likely be spent working on becoming proficient at their practice. Teachers not staying long in rural regions is consistent with the literature, these areas are notorious for having high teacher turnover around the world (Jimerson, 2003; McClure & Reeves, 2004). This is a problem as it has major effects on the quality of education being offered.

Individuals from northern Ontario (questionnaire 2)

Examining the individuals results from northern Ontario did make evident some attention grabbing trends. The sixteen respondents from northern Ontario each appear to have similar thoughts about teaching in northern Ontario which greatly differ from the southern Ontario respondents. Fourteen teachers plan to, or currently do, teach in northern Ontario while two others are only a maybe, as made apparent in graph 2.1. What are also of interest are the results to the question asking the respondents to rate the most desirable position to least desirable teaching status (Graph 2.2). Teaching in northern Ontario was chosen as the most popular choice by a wide margin. This may prove that the grow your own teacher strategies addressed in much of the literature do have some merrit. However, such a strategy needs a long time to implement. This concern needs to be resolved in a much shorter timeline.

It is also important to examine data regarding individuals prospected length of stay, as retaining teachers is just as important as obtaining them. Most of the individuals from northern Ontario responded stated that they would stay for over 5 years, while southern teachers prospected length of stay was two years at most (Graph 2.3). These results suggest that once again maybe the best strategies for attracting and retaining teachers to northern Ontario are grow your own teacher strategies. Though this appears to be a reasonable approach as mentioned it is a plan that would take a great amount of time and effort. As well, there are already too many teachers in Ontario and justifying the creation of new teachers might be extremely difficult.

Graph 2.4 is of interest as it makes apparent that the individuals in the teaching profession in northern Ontario are just as happy as those in southern Ontario (Graph 1.5). This might likely have to do with their family and friends being located there. However, it might also suggest that though teachers don t plan to stay in northern Ontario for a long period of time once relocated they might be pleased with their teaching situation and stay longer than originally intended. Therefore, the main strategies that should be put in place currently should put most effort towards obtaining new teachers.

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Recommendations

The following section will re-examine the themes made apparent through the questionnaire as well as the literature applying them to the current teacher shortage in northern Ontario. The section will provide recommendations to northern Ontario school boards to improve ability to attract and retain quality teaching professionals.

Attracting Teachers

The problem of attaining teachers in rural communities is not new and it is not unique to northern Ontario. This is a problem that will continue to remain especially in the more remote communities. However, currently Ontario s situation is ideal for northern Ontario school boards to attract teachers. Teachers are in desperate need of jobs and in northern Ontario jobs need to be filled. A strong action plan needs to be put in place now to attract these individuals. Most young teachers are leaving university with no job opportunities on the horizon. These new graduates should be aggressively pursued as I believe with the right coercion they can definitely be obtained. Once attained, focus can be put on retention. By first acquiring large numbers of teachers to fill the vacancies some individuals will stay longer periods despite how long they intended to stay. Individuals might make connections to the community (get married) or may just end up liking the area and lifestyle more than they thought they would.

Retention

Many of the strategies currently being suggested as ways to improve teacher retention in the literature and in practice are not new. Older literature shows many of the same suggestions (teacher support systems, teacher development programs, leaves of absence, improved working conditions, competitive salaries and benefits) and initiatives being put into place (Canadian Education Association, 1992). However, one factor I would argue was overlooked, geographical location. The Canadian Education Association in a 1992 study argued that geography in no way hinders their ability to attract and retain teachers . This is a major oversight. As the questionnaire uncovered, teaching abroad was a more popular option to teaching in northern Ontario despite it putting individuals further away from friends and family. Locations that flourish today are typically communities where anyone can easily and quickly fit in (Florida, 2002). These are communities where people can find opportunity, build support structures, be themselves, and not get stuck in any one identity. This is not northern Ontario. To prosper today, regions have to offer a climate that satisfies young people s social interests and lifestyle needs, as well as address those of other groups (Florida, 2002; Smithers & Robinson, 2000). Simply put northern Ontario communities don t have this to offer. Communities like the ones found in northern Ontario are trapped by their past. They are unwilling or unable to do what it takes to attract the creative class.

For the reason that northern Ontario communities are unable to attract these young people, I propose creating the proper climate for young people should be taken up by the schools. There currently is a lack of young people located in northern Ontario and that will only deter young teachers from going there (Map 1.3). School boards should when recruiting should offer positions in groups so that individuals can teach with friends and colleagues from their university. I would contend this would greatly increase the chances of obtaining the young teachers. Focus should be placed on how many other young teachers are currently there. Once teachers are there the schools and school boards encourage social gatherings to keep teachers happy, entertained and to allow them to build some lasting friendships.

Qualified teachers

As stated earlier I would argue that schools should be specifically putting their efforts towards targeting new graduates and do their best to retain these individuals. There is no need for these school boards to be casting a wide net. I believe new graduates can be overlooked and undervalued. Individuals with fewer than 5 years of teaching are often referred to as inexperienced (Sharplin, 2010). However, these people can bring a fresh look to teaching and if they are retained they will gain the experience. Not all qualified teachers need to be obtained, instead they can be built. It is highly unlikely that a teacher of over 5 years in a board would move to a new place, and for that matter northern Ontario. They have seniority which would be lost if moved. Furthermore, these individuals probably have already started a family and have settled into their current teaching location and community.

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Conclusion

Through this study I hoped to have made apparent the inadequacies of the education offered in northern Ontario, as well as their difficult circumstances preventing change. Northern Ontario school boards are unable to adequately staff their schools and action needs to be taken. The paper explored this concern by examining the three main staffing difficulties of northern Ontario school boards: staffing schools; retaining teachers and; and attaining qualified teachers. The study made clear that by re-examining recruiting strategies and aggressively attracting young professionals northern Ontario schools can improve their current and future circumstances.

The paper will began by first examining background information on northern Ontario through the use of relevant literature. Special attention was given to northern Ontario s struggling economic and educational systems. As well the flooding of southern Ontario s teaching market was also explored. Parallels were then drawn between northern Ontario and other rural communities internationally.

Second, the research methods used to gather data were analysed, exploring the reliability and relevance of the data. The questionnaire and its main purposes were outlined. As well, the ethical considerations taken and the limitations of the study were addressed.

Next, using the data gathered in the questionnaire relevant themes were explored and analysed. The findings were used to focus on if northern Ontario school boards would likely be able to obtain and retain these teachers. It was found that most southern Ontario teachers would only teach in northern Ontario if they were out of a job in southern Ontario but they would not plan on staying long. Individuals from northern Ontario on the other hand are much more likely to consider teaching and staying in northern Ontario.

Finally, using the themes that presented themselves in the findings recommendations were made for northern Ontario school boards. It was suggested that currently because of the amount of teachers without a job in southern Ontario, northern Ontario School boards should be aggressively recruiting the new graduates without employment in the teaching field. It was also suggested that school boards attempt to create a climate that would attract young teachers. By having many young teachers and keeping them entertained it is likely that the school boards will obtain more teachers and retain them for longer.

If there was ever an opportunity for northern Ontario to change its circumstances this is it. School boards and policy makers should act quickly as they have the chance to improve the quality of education in this region. To take northern Ontario into the future and remove it from its economic struggles a strong standard of education will be needed. Hopefully they will be able to provide that standard.

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