OBA wants clarity over middle schools plan
Bermuda's new education tsar must quiz the Government about its plan to axe middle schools, the shadow education minister said today.
Cole Simons added just-appointed Kalmar Richards, the new Commissioner of Education, had to “bring some depth” to the decision to phase out the island's five middle schools in favour of secondary level signature schools.
He was speaking after international education experts weighed in on the Government's plan in an article in The Royal Gazette last week.
Mr Simons said that Ms Richards had been thorough in her decisions as a public school principal.
He added: “She always made decisions that were based on sound data and analytics.
“In light of this, I would really encourage her to show real leadership, and take hold of this nettle by telling education minister Diallo Rabain and the PLP Government that when it comes to the elimination of middle schools, they should pause and reflect.”
He said that “solid empirical data and evidence” must be used to show the benefits of the change.
The One Bermuda Alliance MP added: “Bermuda deserves nothing less.
“Saying that the public and the PLP Government are dissatisfied is not enough.
“It reaffirms the common belief that the Minister of Education needs real guidance and support when it comes to gathering data to support, drive and deliver real transformational leadership which will result in the delivery of world-class educational services to Bermuda and her gems — its students and its young people.”
Peter Cookson, a senior researcher at the Learning Policy Institute, based in Washington DC, said last week that statistics had to support the change.
He was backed by Andy Hargreaves, a research professor at Boston College and visiting professor at the University of Ottawa.
Dr Hargreaves said that public dissatisfaction with middle schools was not a good enough reason for wholesale change of the system.
Mr Rabain announced in July that work to examine the feasibility of signature schools had started.
Signature schools are designed to have a specialised focus on particular subjects.
Mr Rabain said the government's plan were a response to the public view that middle schools were “seen as a problem” and that a “lack of trust” in the education system started at the middle-school level.
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