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Elliot mother: don’t split up my kids

The cancellation of a school's Primary 1 class could split up brothers and sisters or force parents to move them to other schools to keep children together, a worried parent said yesterday.

Teretha Talbot, whose daughter, Brialla, 4, was due to join brother Chanse, 6, and sister Charm, 9, at Elliot Primary School in Devonshire in September, said she was now looking to move all three to another school rather than split them up.

She said: “They will all be in the same school together.”

Ms Talbot added: “Truthfully, I'm trying to figure out if I should move my other children.”

She was speaking after she got a letter that warned that the P1 class at the school could be axed next year because only four children had been enrolled.

Ms Talbot said the letter was a surprise. She added: “I was actually in shock, because I had heard quite the opposite.”

Ms Talbot said that she had heard suggestions that there had been too many applications received by the school. She added she had been happy with the quality of the education her older children, two of whom have now moved on to Whitney Institute in Smith's, had received at Elliot.

The letter, from Valerie Robinson-James, the education ministry's permanent secretary, 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.”

Potential Elliot parents were offered places at another school.

Ms Robinson-James said that Diallo Rabain, the education minister, would consult parents who decided not to accept alternatives before he made a final decision. Ms Talbot said that she had not accepted the placement offer and she had not spoken to Mr Rabain.

Staff at the school said yesterday they had been kept in the dark about the threat to the P1 class and that “morale appears to be at all-time low” due to fears over the school's future.

A statement said staff were not told until April 23 that the class might be cut — a month after the letters were sent to parents of potential pupils.

It added that staff had “grave concerns about the manner in which we were informed”.

The statement said: “The school principal, Ms Kimberly Creighton, and the school staff body were not informed of this plan and have not been part of the consultation process.”

It added that Ms Creighton and other staff members only learnt of the possible class cancellation “due to irate parents who spoke to some staff members about their concerns”.

The statement claimed that the actions of the education ministry “has led to heightened concerns about the future of the students, school and employment status”.

It also questioned why staff were not consulted about the possible loss of the class, plans for the future of the school and the possible impact on staff members. The Government announced in March that there was to be a delay in school registration for preschool and P1 pupils because of 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 were 2,431 in 2016-17, down from 2,585 in 2014-15.

Preschool enrolment in 2016-17 was 320 pupils, down from 330 in 2014-15.

Plan 2022, the Government's blueprint for education, published in November 2017, listed total enrolment at Elliot at 172 pupils. Mr Rabain did not respond to a request for comment by press time yesterday.

To view the permanent secretary's letter to parents and a letter from Elliot staff, click on the PDF links under “Related Media

Tough choice: Teretha Shade Talbot and Brialla Talbot, 4, outside Elliot Primary School. Ms Talbot is considering sending Brialla and her two older sisters to another school rather than split them up if the Government follows through on its plan to not accept children for the P1 class intake (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 09, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 09, 2019 at 7:21 am)

Elliot mother: don’t split up my kids

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