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Brangman: It’s up to us to produce better teachers

Better teaching is needed for the reform of the Island's middle schools — but Education Minister Nalton Brangman said it was incumbent on his Ministry to provide teachers with professional development.

Backtracking from earlier remarks in which he identified quality of teaching as “the weakness in our system”, Senator Brangman also issued an apology yesterday to educators.

Sen Brangman said he'd erred in his wording.

“I was asked about the problem at the middle school level,” the Minister told senators. “I certainly chose the wrong words in my response.

“The response I should have made is that our problems at the middle school level require multiple strategies to resolve.”

He added: “We must focus on the quality of teaching — but, equally important, we must ensure that we at the Ministry of Education provide the professional development and framework to ensure student success.”

In addition, Sen Brangman said it was the Ministry's obligation to put in place “appropriate supports and supervision around instruction, to provide timely interventions.”

His statement in the Upper House followed a press conference announcing IGCSE results for public school students, in which he said: “The weakness in our system has been found to be quality of teaching, specifically within the middle school system.”

Acknowledging the subsequent “upset and anger among our educators” after the comments were published, the Minister told the Senate: “I did make the statement, and I sincerely apologise to all of our teachers for making it.”

Improving outcomes at the middle tier has been a stated priority since Sen Brangman took office, and he said this week that a “transformation” of the middle schools was now underway.

Opposition Senate Leader Diallo Rabain said he'd come to the Senate session with “some venom” after reading Sen Brangman's comments — but was pleased to hear him apologise.

“Next time, please be much more careful with your words,” Sen Rabain said. “For the public school system to move forward, we need the teachers on board.

“We need to respect them and we need to know they are appreciated every time we talk about our education system.”

And Independent MP Terry Lister last night told The Royal Gazette: “This is a subject that has concerned me for many years. Too much time is spent finger pointing without coming up with solutions and often without even having any facts.

“The middle school system is not failing for any one particular reason but for a number of reasons. These include principals, teachers, parents, the students, the system and the Ministry. All of the foregoing play a role in creating the outcome that we experience.

“I am concerned about the Minister's mistake in taking it upon himself to criticise teachers on this most recent occasion. He is in charge of the Education Ministry. If he believes any teacher is failing then he should ensure that his officers and the school principal provide that teacher with the tools for success while documenting performance. If this fails there has been the appropriate documentation is available to support dismissal if this is the only option left.

I am hopeful that the standards of our system will continue to rise. However, all of the parties that I have identified must raise their game to enable our children to be successful in gaining a quality education.

Education Minister Nalton Brangman (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

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Published October 02, 2013 at 11:36 am (Updated October 03, 2013 at 1:43 am)

Brangman: It’s up to us to produce better teachers

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