Education troubleshooters removed from roles

  • BUT Secretary General Mike Charles (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    BUT Secretary General Mike Charles (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Specialists with a track record of tackling failures in mathematics, English and science were taken off the job, according to the Bermuda Union of Teachers.

Secretary General Mike Charles said teachers were “flabbergasted” that the education ministry removed content specialists when they were beginning to make progress in areas in which pupils in the public sector have struggled.

Mr Charles was speaking after Cambridge curriculum assessors highlighted poor practices in Bermuda’s schools amid concern over examination results.

Mr Charles told The Royal Gazette the specialists were put in place more than three years ago and that the concept was supported by former education commissioner Freddie Evans and former acting commissioner Lou Matthews.

Mr Charles said they were removed at the start of this school year.

He added: “These people were making significant progress in these areas. They had identified the challenges and they were making significant progress with teachers and students.

“However, those people no longer exist in the ministry. They disappeared at the end of the last school year.

“They were doing a fantastic job. There weren’t enough of them, but they were beginning to see progress.

“These people were underground, going from school to school every day. We have no one working with teachers, working with students. Teachers were flabbergasted that these positions were being cut out.”

The Cambridge experts were brought to the island after poor results in checkpoint exams last April.

In maths, the Bermuda P6 national average score was 2.4, compared with the international average of 3.8. The Bermuda M3 average was 2.1 compared with 4.2 internationally. English and science were also cause for concern.

Mr Charles argued the results were not a fair comparison because they pitched Bermuda’s public schoolchildren against elite private schoolchildren in Britain.

He said: “We are really comparing apples and oranges.

He added assessments over many years, including the Hopkins Report in 2008, had shown failures in the system.

Mr Charles said: “Most of the stuff they identified, we already knew.”

Recommendations from the Cambridge assessors included an increased pace of learning, ensuring pupils complete more work, and encouraging teachers to do less and engage pupils more in talking, thinking and reflecting.

The education ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

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Published Mar 20, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 19, 2018 at 11:40 pm)

Education troubleshooters removed from roles

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