Unlicenced teachers must still meet strict requirements
“Stringent requirements” govern the use of unlicensed teachers in Bermuda’s classrooms, according to educators who oversee the procedure.
Helle Patterson of Bermuda Educators Council spoke out after the Ministry of Education reported 22 exemptions had been granted to fill gaps in the public education system this school year.
Asked if it was fair to say that unqualified teachers had been used in classrooms, she said: “No, they have got to have specific skills in that area to be taken on without having completed training. They can’t just be taken on because they want to be a teacher.”
There was never a scenario of, “we need a geography teacher, you teach English you’ll do,” said Mrs Patterson, chair of BEC’s Exemption Committee.
She added: “Foremost in our minds is ‘would we want this person teaching our children?’ Most of us on the committee are parents. We are not just allowing these people to go into the classroom.”
Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons had earlier questioned whether untrained teachers were being used outside their appropriate disciplines. Meanwhile the parent of a middle school student told
The Royal Gazette that her son’s performance in maths had dropped significantly since an unlicensed educator took over the class.
“My son is no saint but he has been having a hard time in school, and he gets depressed about it,” said the mother who asked not to be named.
She said she had initially accused her son of lying when he told her his teacher did not cover material sufficiently in class and “just gives out work sheets and tells the students to Google it” for their homework.
The student had also complained that his teacher appeared disinterested, and used her BlackBerry throughout classes.
The parent heard similar complaints “trickle down the line” from other parents at a Parent Teacher Association meeting.
She checked up on the teacher and discovered she wasn’t licensed.
By law, teachers cannot take a job in a school on the Island unless they are registered by BEC. In order to be registered, they must hold a university degree or equivalent qualification granted by an institution recognised by BEC. They must also have successfully completed a course of initial training for teachers in schools at an institution recognised by the council.
Mrs Patterson told
The Royal Gazette that, to her best knowledge, there were 13 teachers at work in public schools who were waiting to finish their training. The rest of the exempted educators completed their training in December.
She advised parents with specific complaints about a teacher’s performance to speak with the school principal.
“If they do not get satisfaction from the principal, they should approach the Ministry of Education.”
Government is currently advertising overseas for teachers to start in the upcoming school year, which begins September 4.
An online version of the advertisement appears to contain a spelling mistake, opening with “The Governement [sic] of Bermuda”.
An ad in Canada’s Globe and Mail calls for “exemplary teachers” who are “capable of fostering an atmosphere of trust, confidence, integrity and respect while demonstrating a commitment to all students and their learning”.
Middle and senior school teachers must have “successful experiences teaching the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) UK curriculum and/or Advanced Placement (AP) courses or equivalent”.
They must also have the minimum of a bachelor’s degree specifically in education, or a bachelor’s degree in a teaching topic plus a teaching certificate.
It also calls for a minimum of three years’ post-certification experience, adding: “Successful applicants must either possess or be able to obtain a licence from the Bermuda Educators Council.”
Useful websites: www.moed.bm, www.educationcanada.com.