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Teacher protests as transfer is revoked

Government's teacher transfers policy continues to come under fire — this time from a teacher charging “total disrespect” in having her much-desired transfer revoked.

The policy of reassigning public school teachers, adopted in 2012 as a means of reform, was challenged last year in the Supreme Court.

That showdown led ultimately to a pledge by the Ministry of Education to consult with parent-teacher associations.

However, following an upset in June among PTA's for Francis Patton Primary and West Pembroke Primary, transfers set for September were called off.

The educator, who requested anonymity as a Government employee, told this newspaper: “This year, as in the past, teachers did what was required to obtain a transfer from their school, for reasons known only to them or maybe shared with a few close friends and colleagues.

“For many, great news came at the end of May when so many awaited word on whether or not they would be transferring to a new school. Unfortunately, before one could really celebrate what seemed like a momentous occasion, word came to say that all transfers had been revoked.”

Involuntary transfers have proven controversial — but the teacher said requested transfers came as “a great relief” for others hoping to develop their skills elsewhere.

In a statement released in July, Permanent Secretary Warren Jones said transfers for the coming school year needed to be reconsidered.

Informed by letter of the cancellation, the teacher said the Ministry had failed to show empathy for educators hoping to be transferred.

She added: “The Ministry cannot commit to whether or not you can receive your transfer next year, after you go through the same process.

“Many are left wondering how to truly commit to an employer who treats one with such disrespect, especially when one is so often required to change midstream as new policy and procedures are introduced — or when one is required to deal with more than their qualifications can handle, due to the shortfalls of the system.”

Asked why the voluntary transfer had been revoked, a Ministry spokeswoman said the teacher transfer policy was a matter being handled among the Bermuda Union of Teachers, the Ministry of Education and the PTAs.

There would be no public comment on the matter until a consultation between the groups, she added.

Shadow Education Minister Walton Brown this morning called on Government to resolve the controversial transfer policy.

“Every time there are issues with transfers — particularly when they spill out into the public domain — the steady improvement in public confidence in public education suffers,” he said.

He called for “the creation of a framework that has buy-in from the Ministry, teachers and parents”.

“What we have seen on an annual basis is far too much dispute over a matter that should be fairly routine,” Mr Brown said.

Mr Brown said he'd extended “a hand of cooperation” to Education Minister Nalton Brangman to assist with a mutually acceptable policy.

He acknowledged that teacher transfers were used to improve the Island's public education system but said “teachers seek school transfer for a wide range of reasons — and parents have views which should be acknowledged and respected when it comes to the education of their children”.

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Published August 12, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 12, 2013 at 11:33 am)

Teacher protests as transfer is revoked

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