No school closures in coming year — Scott
School closures or mergers have been definitively ruled out by Wayne Scott, the Minister of Education, for the coming academic year.
“Absolutely not” said Mr Scott of the 2016/17 year — after lingering worries from parents that consolidations were in store.
The minister also said it was more important for now to focus on “what's being taught in the classrooms, and how” rather than classroom size.
Mr Scott said his decisions were based on widespread consultation solicited by the ministry, along with the school reorganisation, or Score report, released in February, that exposed widespread failings.
A clear direction for change was essential, Mr Scott said, beginning with a strategic plan that would include a review of the Department of Education's structure.
One school could be repurposed as an alternative learning centre, with the ministry incorporated into the same facility, as concern had been raised that the ministry's present location in St David's made it inaccessible.
Preschools are to be relocated to primary schools “where feasible”, and primary schools are to be equipped with “holistic programmes that include music, art and physical education”.
Health and safety issues, a prominent feature of the Score report, are “critical”.
“We started working on that immediately,” said Mr Scott, with a maintenance schedule on the ministry website.
The narrative emerging from consultation throughout this year was “quite different from some of the prevailing perceptions of our public school system”, Mr Scott said.
“Children are having rich educational experiences that have helped to make schools important to them, important to their parents and to our communities.”
Further details are to be given tomorrow, with a ministerial statement in the House of Assembly.