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Firm selected to rebuild schools system

Reform plans: Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, speaks at a press conference (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

An international firm has been selected to help rebuild Bermuda’s public education system, the education minister announced yesterday. Diallo Rabain said that consultancy Innovation Unit Australia New Zealand had been selected after a request for proposal process for outside help to restructure the public school system. He said the firm brought “the diversity of experience to the table which will help us create a unique Bermudian-based solution for the Bermuda public school system, that will be looked at with admiration, from an international eye”. Mr Rabain added that two other proposals had been submitted to Government, but that they were “not deemed adequate” and the plan from Innovation Unit was the only one of the three to make it past the vetting stage. He said that the RFP had also been sent out to “multiple organisations” with experience in the field. The contract will start later this month and run until at least the 2021-22 school year. Mr Rabain said “an estimated $950,000” had been budgeted for work by the firm this year.He said that Innovation Unit had worked with “educators and system leaders in the public and private sectors” in Africa, Europe and North America, and that the firm had a “proven track record of more than 15 years’ experience codesigning processes and methodologies for education systems”. Mr Rabain added the firm brought experience in teaching, school leadership, policy development and implementation, as well as school design.He said that Innovation Unit had “emphasised that Bermudians are the guardians of the vision for the Bermuda public school system”. Mr Rabain added: “We will take ownership of transforming our public school system. “It is important to understand that our future system will be designed by Bermudians via consultation with our stakeholder groups and these consultants are being hired to guide all stakeholder groups through this change management process.” He said that the changes would include middle schools being phased out and redesigned schools, including signature schools, being introduced. Mr Rabain admitted that redesign would present problems. He said: “Not everyone will be in agreement with what is being put on the table.” However, the minister added: “Having respectful disagreements allows us to come to a position that we can all agree on, moving forward.” The minister said that a parent survey would be launched “over the next few weeks”, and was designed to focus on the redesign project and that a governance team would also be formed. Mr Rabain said that Lisa Smith, the interim director of educational standards and accountability at the Department of Education, will lead the team.Phil Butterfield, the chief executive of BermudaFirst, has also been asked to help. BermudaFirst, a think-tank involving about 90 Bermudians, submitted a socio-economic plan for Bermuda last summer.The group’s recommendations included formation of an independent education authority. Mr Rabain said the creation of an independent authority was the only one of several education recommendations made by BermudaFirst “not currently in train”. He added: “The idea of an education authority is still something that is being discussed and still being fleshed out, with BermudaFirst to see if it is something that is particularly right for Bermuda. “We are looking to create a system that is right for Bermuda and not something that has just been transplanted from somewhere else.“If it is right for Bermuda, it is something that will be considered.”• Mr Rabain delivered a Ministerial Statement on the FRP this morning in the House of Assembly. To view the complete statement click on the PDF under “Related Media”