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Undersubscribed Elliot P1 faces axe

The future of a primary one class is under threat after only four pupils were enrolled for the next academic year.

Parents were told in a letter that the class at Elliot Primary School could be axed. The undated letter from Valerie Robinson-James, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, said: “Each year, the Minister of Education determines the maximum enrolment for primary schools based on school registration.

“While he has not yet made a decision on the maximum enrolment for Elliot Primary School, it is his provisional view that Elliot Primary School should not have a P1 class due to low enrolment in September 2019.”

The letter is believed to have been sent in March to parents of potential P1 pupils at the Hermitage Road, Devonshire school.

Ms Robinson-James said that Diallo Rabain, the education minister, believed that a full-sized P1 class would give pupils a “more suitable education and that having a class of only four students would not be an effective use of human, facility or financial resources”.

Ms Robinson-James told the parents: “However, being in a class of more than four children would allow for an enhanced educational experience, and your child would also have greater opportunities to form relationships that would enrich their interpersonal skills, and help them to learn how to be a member of a team. These are all skills which are acquired from their entire school experience.”

Potential Elliot Primary parents were offered an enrolment place at another school.

But Ms Robinson-James told them: “However, it is your choice whether or not to accept the offer.”

She said that the Department of Education would arrange for parents to visit other schools and cover the cost of school uniforms.

Parents were given a week to accept or decline alternatives and were asked make their decision by March 28.

Ms Robinson-James said that Mr Rabain, whose daughter is an Elliot Primary pupil, would consult parents who decided not to accept alternatives before he made a final decision.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education said yesterday that the education department was “looking at further options” because of low enrolment numbers at preschool and primary-school levels across the public school system.

She added: “We are in the process of consulting with the potentially affected schools and parents who have applied for enrolment into P1 for September 2019. Once that consultation process has been completed, we will inform the relevant stakeholders of the decisions.”

The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether a decision on the future of the Elliot class had been made, or when the decision would be announced.

She also did not respond when asked if similar letters had been sent to parents whose children were due to attend other schools.

The Government announced in March that there was to be a delay in school registration for preschool and P1 pupils owing to low enrolment.

The education ministry did not respond to a request at the time for the number of applicants this year and last year for the island's 18 primary schools and ten preschools.

Questions sent to the Parent Teacher Association at Elliot Primary were not responded to by press time. The Bermuda Union of Teachers also did not respond to a request for comment.

To view the permanent secretary's letter to parents in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

Are you a parent who has received a letter about school placement? We want to hear from you at news@royalgazette.com

Growing concern: Diallo Rabain, the education minister, has provisionally decided to cancel the creation of a new entry class at Elliot Primary School in Devonshire because of low enrolement (File photograph)

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Published May 07, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 07, 2019 at 7:36 am)

Undersubscribed Elliot P1 faces axe

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