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Govt hails teacher training programme a success

A teacher training programme for Special Education has been hailed as a success story by Government — but some have questioned the Ministry's logic in putting graduates on a par with Master's qualified teachers.

Under the arrangement, negotiated in agreement with the Bermuda Union of Teachers, teachers who took a local three-part Special Education course offered by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) have been treated as the equivalents of degree holders.

A Ministry spokeswoman said that the specialist qualification for Special Education was reintroduced in 2011.

She explained: “Not everyone who wants to become a Special Education teacher has the means to move abroad to obtain a Master's degree — so this effort was in large part to give qualified general education teachers a local pathway to become qualified Special Education teachers.

“This was necessary because a number of persons who were teaching students with the greatest educational needs didn't have the requisite qualifications to do so.”

But an educator who contacted this newspaper said the arrangement put teachers in Learning Support classrooms “without the ability, knowledge and training to provide students with the proper services”.

The teacher said it would make sense for UOIT teachers to be shadowed in their first year in the classroom.

“But considering the salary issue, underlying resentment could be harboured toward the new trainees,” added the source, who requested anonymity.

Teacher qualifications in Bermuda's public school system are set by the Minister, who is guided by the Education Rules 2006.

However, the source who contacted this newspaper said that this arrangement allowed for a subjective interpretation of what qualifications were acceptable for Special Education teachers.

Under the UOIT programme, for instance, teachers must complete three modules of 125 hours each.

A Master's in Special Education from the University of British Columbia, conversely, averages 2.35 years for completion, and includes a research-based thesis.

The Ministry of Education spokeswoman said that in comparing the UOIT course to Master's Degrees in Special Education, “we believe that it measures up well, and in many instances exceeds the requirements of many other pathways to becoming a fully-qualified Special Education teacher.”

She added: “The Ministry of Education has deemed the specialist course in Special Education to be equivalent of a Master's Degree.”

The spokeswoman said the extra pay for teachers created an incentive toward obtaining a Special Education qualification — and compensated them for the specialised nature of their instruction.

“The Ministry of Education believes that this is actually a success story, and is consistent with the priorities of the Inclusive and Special Education Discussion Paper — that local teachers (Bermudians, spouses of Bermudians and expatriates) have been given access to an accredited and international qualification programme, and that students with the greatest needs receive specialised instructions by persons who have been trained to do so,” she said.

The Ministry's Discussion Paper, issued in July and available at, lists the UOIT qualification under the rubric of Ongoing Initiatives.

It is listed as a post-certification qualification, accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers, which “provides a local pathway for educators to become qualified Special Education teachers”.

According to the Ministry, all learning support teachers are under the direct supervision of their principal — as well as receiving support from local Special Education Officers.

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Published September 06, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 06, 2013 at 12:41 am)

Govt hails teacher training programme a success

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