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PLP’s Foggo highlights education system’s successes

A 90 percent graduation rate is evidence that Bermuda’s public education system is successful, according to ruling party MP Lovitta Foggo.

“I am proud to have taught in our system and can speak volumes on the successes that I have observed.

“I believe we are doing a phenomenal job given the achievement we observe locally and the continued high level of success by our students at the tertiary level particularly overseas. I invite all to use these successes to exemplify our education system. Very few can brag a 90 percent success rate,” she said.

Ms Foggo’s remarks kicked off a parliamentary debate on the report of a joint select committee to review progress on education reform.

She described as “epic” and “a giant step forward for transparency and democracy” the fact that the conduct of the committee’s review was open to the public.

The JSC was asked to consider and review the implementation of the recommendations of the David Hopkins report on public schools.

Its report was tabled in the House of Assembly late last year despite being completed in 2008 because several members of the committee had to leave at a “crucial stage”, Ms Foggo explained.

But she said that Government had, or was in the process of implementing each of the ten recommendations of the Hopkins Report.

Ms Foggo said that the Education Ministry’s commitment to evaluate principals and guarantee professional development for teachers had gone a long way to meeting the first recommendation to improve the quality of teaching.

On another recommendation to improve the quality of leadership by school principals Ms Foggo said: “The Ministry can brag that principal appraisals are current; that there is a joint collaborative effort by the Commissioner and Consultant Dr [Avril] Glaze to provide the guidance and support to enhance leadership abilities and performance and reflects alignment with the suggestions by Dr Hopkins in order achieve this recommendation.”

And Ms Foggo said that much had been accomplished on the recommendation to reform the Education Ministry itself.

“The Ministry has been consolidated and now housed under one roof. This consolidation promotes interdepartmental cohesion and efficiency and facilitates coordination and alignment of this Ministry’s departmental operations,” she noted offering the establishment of the Education Commissioner and director posts, and the redesign of the education board as examples.

The redesign of the education board which “has representation from all sectors of society and key stakeholders in education” was also evidence of strengthening the strategic management of the system another key Hopkins recommendation, she said.

And Government had “to varying degrees” the recommendation to “introduce delegation and transparent accountability at all levels”, Ms Foggo added.

“For example various levels of our present school system follow the Cambridge programme.

“The Cambridge programme is one of international acclaim and is respected and touted as being of a high calibre.

“On the issue of transparent accountability, schools’ performances are reported publicly and any necessary assistance is provided for the school, and/or teacher or student.”

Additionally, she said each school now has an independent budget and principals have “increased autonomy at the school level”.

Government had met with almost 100 percent success in achieving recommendation six, which was to “federate secondary and tertiary education, and as soon as possible, raise the school leaving age”, the MP said.

“The high schools are managed by boards. School-leaving age was changed to 18. Students sit BSC and GCSE and where applicable attend Bermuda College and take college-level courses.

“We have heard time and again the many academic accomplishments of our students. Both sides of the House have witnessed such successes when attending prizegiving events and graduation ceremonies.”

Providing personalised assistance to students in need and on-site student services satisfied the recommendation to “respond to concerns about inclusion and behaviour”, she stated.

But she acknowledged that Government had not implemented the recommendation to create self-governing federations around clusters of primary schools and each middle school, but some progress had been made with another recommendation to align the curriculum “vertically and horizontally”.

“With increased autonomy in individual schools, a standardised curriculum under the Cambridge system, the shift in policy to ensure standardisation of programmes at the pre-school level and earlier testing and intervention programmes at this early stage, I think it fairly safe to say that progress has been realised,” Ms Foggo said.

“Additionally collaborative efforts of various departments at both high schools to ensure standardisation of internal exams, and with the introduction of the GCSE exams, much advancement has been achieved for standardisation throughout.

“In fact the current Minister [Dame Jennifer Smith] has implemented policy related to vertical and horizontal alignment which ensures that any student, regardless of academic deficits, can get the appropriate and required tuition and in so doing addressed the issue of social promotion.”

Progress on the Hopkins Report’s final recommendation, to “harness the power of parents, business and the community in the reform effort”, had also been made, Ms Foggo said.

“It is my personal belief that through school PTAs, parental representation on the education board, volunteer programmes involving parents and the business community, the move to re-introduce work release programmes [and] the adopt-a-school initiative introduced by the current minister are all indicative of the observable progress regarding the Hopkins’ recommendations specifically, and education as a whole.

“This no doubt is reflected by the high graduation rates of more than 90 percent as well as the 90-plus percentile pass rate in GCSE exams with more than 50 percent achieving C and above scores.”

Ms Foggo also commented on business participation in work shadow programmes as another example of the engagement of the private sector in the schools.

Lovitta Foggo

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Published February 21, 2012 at 8:44 am (Updated February 21, 2012 at 8:44 am)

PLP’s Foggo highlights education system’s successes

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