Teacher: middle school merger ‘total mayhem’

  • Dellwood Middle School (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Dellwood Middle School (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The merger of pupils and staff from two middle schools into a single space has created “total mayhem”, a teacher has claimed.

The insider said that the plan for the transfer of teachers and pupils from TN Tatem Middle School to Dellwood Middle School was “inadequate”.

The source added: “Not only was the integration plan for students inadequate, but the integration of the teaching staff was more inadequate.”

TN Tatem, in Warwick, was closed in April due to mould and other health and safety problems.

The teacher, who asked not to be named, said that there were not enough resources such as printers, copiers and wi-fi, as well as desks and chairs, at Dellwood, in Pembroke.

The source added: “It was just total mayhem.

“No forethought was put into the logistics of basically moving an entire school into another school that was oversubscribed already.

“Teachers were just thrown to the wolves in a callous and non-thoughtful manner with no regard to the impact that would be felt.”

The insider said that a shortage of classrooms meant that some teachers were forced to “lug resources between four to five different classrooms and disrupt the planning of the teachers who those classrooms belong to”.

Tina Duke, the Dellwood principal, and Nishanthi Bailey, the president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, did not respond to requests for comment.

Mike Charles, the BUT’s general secretary, declined to comment.

A Dellwood Parent Teacher Student Association representative said: “The PTA executive has nothing to say to the media on the matter.”

Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, said that relocation of TN Tatem teachers to Dellwood had meant that teachers had been forced to share classrooms.

But she added: “The overall format was based on a student-first model, with the most important variable being the quality of teaching and not the ownership of classroom space.

“With this model, core teachers are given ample planning time so that if they are using a shared space they can allocate personal and team planning time accordingly.”

Ms Richards said that the DoE had organised a team to help with scheduling at the school.

She added: “The recommendations were shared with the Dellwood leadership team, which has the ultimate responsibility of the schools’ schedule.”

Ms Richards said that all school staff had access to computers and phones and that all school printers were working.

She added that a full internet upgrade at the school had also been completed.

But Cole Simons, the shadow education minister, said that the Ministry of Education “urgently” needed to deal with teaching conditions at Dellwood “caused by a poorly planned merger with TN Tatem”.

Mr Simons said in a statement released last week that teachers at the school felt “stress caused by cramped quarters and lack of proper IT equipment”.

He added that he had been told that the integration plan for merging pupils and staff from TN Tatem into Dellwood was “woefully deficient”.

The MoE last week released a 29-page consultation document on whether to close TN Tatem for good.

The document said that the temporary closure of the school “has shown that public middle school students can be accommodated in the other four middle schools”.

It added: “Enrolment at the time of the temporary closure, as well as the continued system-wide decrease in enrolment indicate that TN Tatem Middle School is not longer required to serve as a middle school.”

It said that if the decision was made to keep TN Tatem closed, a “significant portion” of the school’s budget would be reinvested in Bermuda’s other middle schools.

The document added that no TN Tatem staff would be made redundant if a decision was made to close the school permanently.

But it said: “A decision has not yet been made and will only be made following consultation with stakeholders and after all of the consultation responses have been considered.” The public can register its views through an online consultation form or by e-mail to educationconsultation@moed.bm.

Responses can also be hand delivered to the MoE headquarters at Church Street, Hamilton.

Three consultation meetings will also be held, all at CedarBridge Academy.

A meeting for public school staff members will be held on November 19 from 4.15pm to 6.15pm. Members of the TN Tatem community will have a meeting the following day from 6pm to 8pm. Members of the public can attend a meeting on November 21, also from 6pm to 8pm.

The public consultation period will last until December and the decision will be announced by January 29 next year.

To view the consultation document, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

UPDATE: This story has been corrected to reflect that statements made about Dellwood were made by Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, and not Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education.

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Published Nov 13, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 13, 2019 at 9:39 am)

Teacher: middle school merger ‘total mayhem’

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