Head teachers continue work-to-rule
Head teachers have demanded details of plans to axe the island's middle schools.
Ed Ball, general secretary of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said yesterday that school principals wanted more information about the Government's proposal to phase out middle schools in favour of “signature” specialist schools at the senior level.
Mr Ball said: “Specifically, principals want to be provided access to the research that supports this proposal.”
He added: “Clarification is needed on whether there will be school closures and what will be the impact on staffing levels.”
He was speaking as it was confirmed that work-to-rule industrial action started by head teachers last month would continue.
Mr Ball said that “principals will strictly adhere to the spirit of their job duties and responsibilities as outlined in their job descriptions”.
He added that the prime mover behind the industrial action was “the increased incidents of adverse student behaviours, which are compromising the safety of students, teachers and principals, and must be addressed”.
Mr Ball said head teachers and school staff were dealing with behaviour that should be referred to internal specialists, including educational therapists and para-educators.
He said: “As there is an acute shortage of these services in many of the schools, staff are not equipped, and do not have the resources or clear guidelines, to address disruptive students.
“As a result of these behaviours, students, school staff and principals are becoming traumatised.
“Unfortunately, some parents are adding to the stress because they are unaware of the gravity of their child's behaviour that is creating an unsafe environment. This is unacceptable.”
Mr Ball said that the special needs of some students made it impossible for them to be enrolled in private schools.
He added: “Principals recognise that the Government is committed to assisting these special needs students, however, this must be done with the appropriate resources.”
Mr Ball said there had also been an “increased usage of administrative leave” imposed on teachers and school staff who attempted to “physically control an at-risk child”.
He added: “This punitive measure against the principals, teachers and support staff is not sustainable.”
Several other concerns were raised by the union, including staff shortages, lack of resources and curriculum changes.
Mr Ball said that the profession's concerns “must be addressed immediately”.
He added: “The principals have had enough.”