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Top two primary schools face closure in schools shake-up

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Harrington Sound Primary School tops the 2019 results league table (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The two primary schools that performed best in final year exams in three core subjects over the past decade will be shut under a Government proposal to transform the education system.

St George’s Prep and St David’s PS topped a table of average scores between 2012 and 2019, based on their combined results in English, maths and science in the Year 6 Cambridge Checkpoint tests.

But neither school got the highest results in the most recent exams in 2019 – the distinction went to Harrington Sound PS in Smith’s, which would remain open under the proposal.

The Government’s consultation plan – open for submissions from the public until March 12 – proposed closing nine primary schools, the renovation and expansion of nine others and the construction of a new primary school in Devonshire.

The other seven schools facing the axe are Elliot and Prospect in Devonshire, the Gilbert Institute in Paget, Northlands in Pembroke, West End in Sandys and Heron Bay and Port Royal in Southampton.

The plan would leave one primary school in each parish, apart from Pembroke, which would have two.

Cambridge assessments to test proficiency in English, maths and science were introduced by the Progressive Labour Party government at the start of the last decade.

Schools are rated as “excellent” if they score between 5 and 6, “very good” if between 4 and 5, “good” if between 3 and 4, “OK” if between 2 and 3, “poor” if between 1 and 2, and “very poor” if between 0 and 1.

The Royal Gazette took an average across all three subjects for the island’s 18 primary schools, using results provided by the Ministry of Education, to create a 2012 to 2019 “league table”.

Nine schools are ranked as good, with St George’s (3.9) and St David’s (3.8) the clear leaders.

All the other primary schools rated as good overall had a score above 3 but less than 3.1.

St George’s was first and St David’s second for their scores in each subject, with both ranked as “very good” in science.

The Gilbert Institute was fifth and Port Royal eighth in the league table based on overall score. Both schools have been earmarked for closure.

The other nine schools were ranked “OK”, with the top four schools set to close – Heron Bay (2.9), Northlands (2.8), Prospect (2.8) and West End (2.7).

The 2012 to 2019 league table showed a general decline in exam results over the eight-year period, particularly in maths.

Covid-19 halted Cambridge Checkpoint exams last year, so the most recent results are those from 2019, which are outlined in a separate table.

Harrington Sound (3.1) was the only primary school on the island to be ranked as “good” that year for its overall score.

St George’s (2.8) and St David’s (2.0) dropped down to an “OK” rating for overall score.

They appear in second and 12th place, respectively, in the 2019 league table.

There were 11 other state primary schools which scored “OK” overall in 2019.

It is proposed that, of those 11, Northlands (2.6), Prospect (2.4), Gilbert Institute (2.2), Port Royal (2.2), Elliot (2.1) and West End (2.0) should close.

Four schools – Victor Scott (1.7), Francis Patton (1.6), Heron Bay (1.4) and Paget (1.3) – were ranked as “poor” in 2019. All except Heron Bay would remain open under the proposal.

No school got a score above “OK” in maths and the majority – 11 out of 18 – were rated as “poor”.

Heron Bay and Paget got “very poor” scores in maths.

Only three schools – Harrington Sound, Northlands and Dalton E Tucker – got “good” in English.

Two schools – Harrington Sound and Purvis – were “good” in science.

The proposed plan for parish primary schools focused on a study of the condition of school buildings, open space and the potential for expansion, rather than academic achievement.

The document said: “It would not have been a fair or responsible approach to select schools based on student performance, especially when we know that there is a preponderance of research to support that student achievement is impacted by so many factors that are outside of the control of the learner.”

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, toldThe Royal Gazette in December that all state schools should be performing well.

He added: “We can’t afford to have one or two schools doing great – all of them need to be great.

“We need to look at how we are allocating our resources; how can we ensure that all are high performing.”

The proposal said pupils had “natural skills and abilities that reflect great potential” but there was a “disconnect between our students’ abilities and their levels of achievement and attainment”.

It added reshaping the primary system and having all ten schools accredited would mean “an improvement in student achievement, student attainment and the outcomes for education”.

Average Cambridge Checkpoint results have declined in all subjects since 2012. (Graphic by Terrina Nolan)
Harrington Sound was the top-performing primary school in 2019 in Cambridge Checkpoint exams. Five of the eight top performing schools are slated for closure under Ministry of Education proposals. (Graphic by Terrina Nolan)

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Published March 08, 2021 at 8:58 am (Updated March 10, 2021 at 2:27 pm)

Top two primary schools face closure in schools shake-up

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