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Closure of eight primary schools proposed for 2022

Diallo Rabain Minister of Education (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The closure of almost half of Bermuda’s 18 primary schools was yesterday proposed as part of a plan to change the education system.

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, said the Government wanted to slash the number of primary schools from 18 to ten, with one in each parish except Pembroke, which would have two.

Mr Rabain told the House of Assembly that primary schools would add two more year groups and new signature schools would have five years of teaching when they are launched in September, 2022.

Mr Rabain said it was hoped to introduce two signature schools in September next year, but it was realised additional time was needed.

He added: “Changing decades old school systems doesn’t happen over night.”

He told the House that as part of the phasing out of middle schools, primary schools will be extended to include M1 and M2 years and senior schools and signature schools would absorb the M3 year.

Mr Rabain did not say how many signature schools there would be, only that middle schools would be phased out as signature schools were introduced. There are currently fur middle schools and two senior schools.

He said the maximum enrolment for each of ten primary schools would be 300, with an planned class size of 15.

He added: “We intend to continue to co-locate preschools into primary school sites and will consider eventually merging preschools into primary schools. The class size for preschool will remain the same at 10 students per class.”

Mr Rabain said: “The vision is that each primary school will become the hub of its parish, with parents, surrounding neighbourhoods and community organisations rallying around schools supporting educational programmes and initiatives.

“This will create strong authentic partnerships to help schools transform into places that are relevant to the needs of 21st century learners.

“We are confident and research shows that when families, community groups, businesses and schools band together to support learning, students achieve more in school and they enjoy their educational experience.”

Mr Rabain said that cutting the number of primary schools would enable the ministry to provide more resources.

He said: “The fewer number of primary schools will facilitate the government delivering 21st century real world and authentic learning facilities that are modern and which support transformative teaching and learning practices.

“We envision our primary schools to have instructional classrooms that are open spaces and adaptable for any type of learning style with appropriate air quality and lighting systems.”

These would include purpose built labs/rooms for ICT, family studies, Steam Education and Foreign Languages; art, music, dance and drama rooms, parent resource rooms, library resource centres and cafeterias and mini-auditoriums.

He said: “With a smaller number of primary schools, capital funds can be better utilised and reinvested for modernising and refurbishing specific buildings that can support the delivery of 21st century education.”

Mr Rabain said part of the reason for the delay in implementing signature schools was to give the community-based 54-member Learning First design team time to carry out their research.

This research began in November when the team carried out an assessment of the public school system by surveying pupils, teachers, principals and businesses.

Mr Rabain said the Ministry would undertake a separate consultation process regarding the specialisations for each signature school early next year.

He added: “This is to ensure that interested and affected persons have the opportunity to share their views on the signature opportunities. The signatures will be proposed on the basis of local and international research, including local and global trends, currently being undertaken by the Learning First Design Team.

“From September 2021, the school design teams will design key features of their signature schools which will provide sufficient lead time to September 2022 to carefully implement these new signatures, and for teachers to have the necessary professional learning to deliver the signatures to a high and consistent quality.”

For Mr Rabain’s full statement, see Related Media.

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Published December 12, 2020 at 8:35 am (Updated December 12, 2020 at 8:35 am)

Closure of eight primary schools proposed for 2022

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