West Pembroke teachers return to classroom
Teachers at West Pembroke Primary School have returned to the classroom after they staged a sickout last week.
Mike Charles, general secretary of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, said: “Representatives had a meeting and all the teachers are back at work but the problems have not been solved — these are systemic problems.
“The teachers are adamant that they need to be fixed.”
But Mr Charles added: “It all depends on whether or not the Ministry of Education has the will to do it. I would hope that this action has an impact for the sake of our children because that is who is being disadvantaged by all of this.”
He said: “There are problems throughout the system — it is not only West Pembroke. They are not exactly the same in every school but these are problems throughout the system.
“We don’t know if other schools will follow suit but only time will tell.”
A government spokeswoman confirmed the Ministry of Education had met the BUT and the Parent Teacher Association at the school in the wake of the sickout last Friday.
She said: “The issues submitted to the Department of Education by the school’s PTA were discussed and the ministry shared the proposed resolutions, some of which have been in place since November 19.
“The ministry is making a concerted effort to work with the parents and teachers at West Pembroke to resolve their concerns and that of our entire public school system.”
She added that the results of the meetings and proposals by the Government would be revealed later.
Almost all of the school’s teachers took industrial action on Friday over a range of problems, including the lack of a teaching assistant for pupils on the autism spectrum disorder programme and a lower-school support teacher.
A parent of a child at West Pembroke said that the Ministry of Education needed to be more in touch.
The parent said: “It is very obvious the schools and teachers are under-resourced and underfunded for basics needed to maximise learning for our most vulnerable members of society, five-year-old public school students.
“It appears obvious the ministry is out of touch with the teachers on the front line.”
The parent suggested that employees at the education ministry should spend four days a year in classrooms so they could see the problems faced by frontline staff.
The parent added: “This should go for the Minister of Education also. If I was minister, this is what I would do to be sure I was in touch and had my finger on the pulse of the front line.
“To have a single learning support teacher in a school of 200 children when there were two last year is unfathomable and unforgivable if we are genuinely looking to improve our society.”