Simons calls for more transparency on Elliot
Teachers not informed of a possible class cut at their school were disrespected, the shadow education minister said yesterday.
Cole Simons said that parents had not been provided with adequate information about public school enrolment problems.
Mr Simons said: “The ministry could have been more transparent when they received the March data from all of the year one primary school intakes across the island.”
He said that Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, could have held a press conference to share enrolment numbers with the public, as well as the Government's plan.
Mr Simons added: “The parents could have been put on notice, the teachers could have been placed on notice, and they would have been better prepared for any decision.
“As a matter of fact, our teachers should have been advised first.”
He was speaking after some parents were warned in a letter that the primary one class at Elliot Primary School could be axed next year due to low enrolment.
The undated letter, from Valerie Robinson-James, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, said that the “Minister of Education determines the maximum enrolment for primary schools based on school registration”.
She added: “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.”
Ms Robinson-James said that only four pupils had been enrolled for the P1 class for the next academic year.
Mr Simons said that he did not know the letter had been sent to parents.
He added that he had been “reliably informed” that teachers at the school, located on Hermitage Road, Devonshire, had been told of the possible class cut by the Parent Teacher Association at the school — not by the principal and the Department of Education.
Mr Simons said: “This demonstrates the height of disrespect for those teachers.”
Jamee Jones, the president of the PTA at Elliot, declined to comment yesterday on the possible loss of the P1 class.
She said: “At this moment, I am not in a position to have this conversation.”
Mr Simons said he was not aware of any similar letters having been sent out in regards to other schools.
But he added: “It has come to my attention that the P1 numbers are down in a few other schools as well.”
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.
A government report released last February showed that enrolment numbers for public primary schools was at 2,431 students in 2016-17 down from 2,585 in 2014-15.
Preschool enrolment in 2016-17 was at 320 pupils down from 330 in 2014-15.