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West Pembroke staff launch work-to-rule

West Pembroke Primary School (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Teachers at West Pembroke Primary School have launched a work-to-rule, it was revealed yesterday.

The staff at the school said they were forced to take action because of staff shortages, poor teacher training and low-quality technology.

The Parent Teacher Association at the North Shore Road school confirmed that staff would work only their regular hours of between 8.30am and 3.25pm.

A PTA statement included a warning from teachers who said that they had “hit the point where enough is enough”.

The statement added: “There comes a point when enough e-mails have been sent and enough calls have been made.

“There comes a point where teachers are fed up and where action is required.

“There comes a point when parents demand better for our children and for those who we entrust our children with.

“We have reached that point and we are sure that other teachers and parents across the island will too.”

Several teacher concerns were outlined in the statement and an accompanying petition organised by the PTA.

The petition said that a promise of an additional teaching assistant for the school’s Autism Spectrum Disorder class had not been kept.

It added that staff for the class had also been forced to use their own vehicles and cash to transport students to the WindReach outdoor centre for the disabled.

The petition said: “Teachers are facing tremendous fatigue, sickness, loss of preps and frustration as their request for assistance has not been met.”

It also said that the school had been told in September that it would not be allocated a specialist support teacher to cover the first three years at the school.

The petition added: “It should be noted that WPS has always functioned with two learning support teachers.”

The petition said the lack of the support teacher was “unacceptable”, and that “39 students have been identified as requiring direct services in the form of academic or behavioural intervention”.

It added that teachers felt “ill-equipped” to use a new standards-based grading system and that staff had “sought out their own professional development — paid for by the school’s PTA.

Teachers have also used external webinars to “broaden their understanding” of the new system.

The petition said that the school’s “poor quality of bandwidth” made it “impossible” for teachers to submit pupil grades on the bi-weekly basis required.

It added: “The internet freezes constantly throughout the day.

“Teachers have resorted to inputting grades on weekends when the internet is faster.”

The PTA said that it backed the job action by school staff and that “parents have come forward to provide supervision before and after school to ensure the safety of our children”.

Parents at the school added teachers were “taking a stand in order to create an environment that ensures quality education for our children”.

A spokeswoman said that officials from the Department of Education had met Opal Wilson, the school’s head teacher, yesterday and that a “plan had been mapped out to address one of the concerns shared by the teachers”.

The spokeswoman did not reveal which concern was to be dealt with, but she added that the plan would take effect on Monday.

She said: “The ministry is seeking to understand and address concerns and will aim to do so once the Bermuda Union of Teachers has sent official correspondence to share the same.”

She said that Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, visited the school yesterday “and engaged in conversations with staff to obtain first hand what other concerns had been raised”.

• To view the petition released by the West Pembroke School Parent Teacher Association, click under “Related Media”