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Reassurances given on teacher and principal transfers

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Bad principals or teachers will not simply be transferred to another school or post, the Commissioner of Education Edmond Heatley said at a public meeting last night.

However, teachers and principals may be moved from time to time for the sake of bettering the Island, he stated.

“If I need [a teacher] to go to another school, I will do that,” he said. “The difference will be I will come and tell you. I will tell you we need the skills she has at another school, and we believe we can replace her with someone who may not be totally her, but will be very close. So tell us what you want in a replacement.

“The reality is there are times when moves have to be made. Sometimes we do our best but people are misplaced. Sometimes a change of scenery will help them flourish. While they may be very successful, we may need those skills somewhere else so we can bring the Island up, not just a school.”

Dr Heatley pointed out the Ministry would not transfer “bad people”, but would instead deal with them.

Around 100 people attended the meeting at West Pembroke School. The audience consisted of teachers, education officials and parents. Dr Heatley said he and his staff would work with underperforming teachers so that they meet the appropriate standards, stating that everyone in the system will be held accountable.

“We will tell them our level of expectation, we will train them to our level of expectation,” he said.

“We are going to have these conversations, follow them up in writing, give them a time in which they have to get better, tell them what the expectations of them getting better are, and if they don't, at that point they are making a decision that they no longer want to be a part of the fair.”

Shadow Education Minister Walton Brown asked Dr Heatley about providing principals greater autonomy, to which he responded that autonomy must be earned.

“The research says you must train them to a level before you give them that autonomy. Right now, we are in the process of training,” he said. “Autonomy, once earned, must then be kept. You have to do even more.

“If I give a principal autonomy over the curriculum, as long as she's producing, she keeps that autonomy. She starts to fall, I start to reel it back in, and that would be for anything we give out.”

Asked about performance measures, he said that at the end of the day student performance is the most important factor, and having 100 percent of students graduating on time, and being college and career ready, is the only goal the Island should be striving for.

He asked: “Is that a lofty goal? It is, but how can we shoot for anything else?”

Throughout the 90-minute meeting Dr Heatley stressed the importance of involving parents and family members in the process, asking them to not only hold the schools responsible, but assume responsibility themselves.

“Every adult must take responsibility for this thing we call education,” he said. “However good these educators are they cannot do it by themselves.

“Parents, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunties, uncles, big brothers and big sisters, you have to be part of that equation. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback and talk about what happened in the game yesterday. I need you in the game today.”

Further meetings are scheduled to be held tomorrow at TN Tatem Middle School, November 4 at Sandys Middle School and November 7 at East End Primary School.

All meetings will begin at 7pm with Dr Heatley giving a brief presentation before answering questions.

Commisioner of Education Dr Edmond Heatley speaks to an audience of parents and educators at West Pembroke School.
Commisioner of Education Dr Edmond Heatley speaks to an audience of parents and educators at West Pembroke School.
Commisioner of Education Dr Edmond Heatley speaks to an audience of parents and educators at West Pembroke School.
Commisioner of Education Dr Edmond Heatley speaks to an audience of parents and educators at West Pembroke School.

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Published October 23, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm)

Reassurances given on teacher and principal transfers

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