House: signature schools update
Bermuda is too small for signature schools to have a solitary focus, the education minister announced.
Diallo Rabain said the island was “not of the scale” where planned signature, or specialised, schools would be able to concentrate on “one speciality”.
He added: “All of our schools, we recognise, will have to have multiple things that our students will be able to get involved with — and you may have duplicates in various schools, depending on the amount of students that actually want to do that.”
The comment came during debate on the budget for the Ministry of Eduction in the House of Assembly on Friday.
Cole Simons, the shadow education minister, questioned Mr Rabain on how pupils would be instructed.
He asked: “How are we going to determine within the signature schools what we're going to offer?
“How are we going to arrive at the optimum curriculum that is going to be followed?”
Mr Simons said: “These questions need to be answered so that, when it's opened, we know it's fit for purpose and that the community will embrace it.”
He also asked Mr Rabain for the time frame to phase out middle schools and open signature schools.
Mr Rabain said that all signature and specialist schools would have “core academic tracks”.
The minister explained: “Everyone that goes to these schools, there will be a core track that they will have to follow in order to qualify to graduate.
“All of them will come out with a high school diploma — whether they engage in any of the speciality topics that are offered at the school or not.”
He said that the schools would also have music, performing arts and physical education programmes.
Mr Rabain said that the people of Bermuda had come up with the ideas for Plan 2022 — the Government's blueprint for education.
He added: “Now that we are getting ready to implement those long term, adaptive strategies, we need to be able to go back and say ‘What is it that you want? What is it you would like to see within our schools?'”
Mr Rabain said that it was also “imperative” that educational changes “be in tune” with workforce development to support the needs of Bermuda's job market in the years ahead.
He added: “That is the type of data that will structure what needs to be offered within our schools, outside of the regular things that we know that we are going to need.”
It was announced last week that international firm Innovation Unit Australia New Zealand had been selected to help rebuild the public education system.
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.
David Burt, the Premier, said last month that the pledge to phase out middle schools was the “signature promise” of the Government in its election platform in 2017.
He added: “I am cognisant that I cannot go back to the polls unless I deliver on my signature promise.”
Mr Burt added that he had been assured by Mr Rabain that the next school year would be “the last school year of our current system”.