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Parents angry over teacher transfers

Clearwater Middle School (File photo)

Parents have written to Government complaining about inadequate consultation over extensive teacher transfers that they fear could cause disruption in Bermuda’s schools.

The Bermuda Parent Teacher Student Association says the shake-up, including principal transfers for at least six schools, should have been phased in over the past three years to make it easier for schools to cope.

One school, Clearwater Middle School, will undergo six changes, including the principal and vice principal.

The BPTSA also claims Government came “nothing near” to the consultation it is required to conduct before making decisions on personnel transfers.

Harry Matthie, the chairman of the BPTSA, wrote to the Ministry of Education on behalf of his members: “The BPTSA would like to voice its concern about wide-ranging personnel transfers, as announced by the Ministry of Education.

“Since 2012, transfers have been unduly blocked, and now that the Ministry has decided to make transfers, the effect could be more disruptive than productive.

“There was a missed opportunity to phase in personnel rather than a ‘shake up’. Indeed, one school will be subject to approximately six changes.

“That cannot be conducive to creating, or maintaining, an environment that is consistent with advancing the learning of our children. The BPTSA will make a more complete statement after we have investigated the supposed ‘involvement’ the Ministry says they gave to individual PTAs.

“It should be said, though, that our initial investigations have turned up nothing near to the ‘consultation’ the Ministry is duty bound to conduct before deciding on personnel transfers.

“We continue to look into these matters, and will keep our parents informed.”

Last week, principal transfers were announced involving Prospect Primary, Port Royal Primary, Heron Bay Primary, West End Primary, Paget Primary and East End Primary, to take place in September.

Principal transfers have not happened since 2012.

Parents were given more input in the administration and reform of Bermuda’s public schools earlier this year under the Education Amendment Act 2015.

That legislation aimed to improve communication, parental involvement, transparency and accountability in Government-run schools.

It was motivated by a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court in 2012 that overturned the Ministry of Education’s attempt to transfer two popular principals against the wishes of parents and students.

The Department of Education did not respond to The Royal Gazette’s questions about the BPTSA letter, but referred to a comment made when the transfers took place.

It said: “In an effort to strengthen parental involvement in the schools, the PTAs at each respective school were involved in the transfer of school principals; and all anticipate working together with principals as a team during the upcoming school year, to ensure a school environment that supports excellence and academic achievement for our students.”