Report lists health and safety concerns at primary schools
A major report on the state of Bermuda’s 18 primary schools was published five years ago and detailed a litany of health, safety and security problems.
The Score report found problems at every school, with many said to be in a very poor state of repair.
A health and safety inspection by the Cabinet Office two years later found all primary schools were “relatively safe” but all had difficulties in areas such as sanitation, hygiene, maintenance and upkeep.
Now the Government has proposed that nine primary schools close, with two of them changing use to become special schools.
Another nine parish schools would be renovated and expanded to accommodate all the children from the parish.
The nine schools, along with a new primary school in Devonshire, would each need to house 300 children, plus a preschool for 30 youngsters.
Pembroke, with two primary schools, would be the exception.
In parishes where there is more than one school, the schools proposed to stay open got the best scores in a recent study commissioned by the Ministry of Education on existing building conditions, land and property condition, health and safety, and transport and accessibility.
This is a look back at the damning details from the Score report for each of the schools slated to survive the Ministry of Education’s reorganisation, including quotes from custodians, and details of what the latest proposal said about them.
Francis Patton Primary
SCORE: The report said accessibility at the school needed to improve.
Quote: “Bathrooms do not accommodate needs of P1 and P2 students – only full size restrooms.”
PARISH PLAN: The school is 70 years old and scored highly for land and property conditions, and health and safety. It's on a large site, with outdoor space suitable for 300 children. It was chosen to stay open because it is the only primary school in the parish.
SCORE: One of the lowest scoring schools in terms of safety, with the report listing it as in need of “immediate attention”. Security concerns were also raised as “people without permission enter easily”. The report said that school keys had been copied and were “out in the public”.
Quote: “Classrooms have some structural issues and are leaking and mouldy.”
PARISH PLAN: The school is 70 years old, compared to neighbouring Gilbert Institute, which was built in 1933. It scored far higher than Gilbert for land/property conditions and was deemed suitable for expansion. Gilbert has half the acreage of Paget.
Victor Scott Primary
SCORE: A low-scoring school in terms of safety and in need of “immediate attention”.
Quotes: “Termites and mould all over the school … Custodian has a rodent/vermin problem.”
PARISH PLAN: Built in 1931, the school scored higher than Northlands, which would close under the proposal. It already has a preschool and has the land for expansion.
West Pembroke Primary
SCORE: Another low-scoring school for safety – in need of “immediate attention”.
Quote: “Covered walkway to the room, on rainy days it impacts instruction. Termites in beams are a large problem – safety and health. Wooden floors are a safety issue. P4 classrooms – some mould issues (air quality?).”
PARISH PLAN: The school is 74 years old and got a higher score than Northlands for land/property conditions.
SCORE: Reports of condoms and pornographic material found on the school grounds, as well as concerns about children suffering asthma due to poor air quality.
Quote: “Always last minute rush [by Works and Engineering] to get things done. Hall needs to be bigger. Some safety issues.”
PARISH PLAN: Somerset is 60 years old and scored better than West End, which would close under the plan, in all categories. Its large playing field and preschool already on site went in its favour.
Harrington Sound Primary
SCORE: Scored low in terms of safety, with staff reporting poor play facilities and rodents.
Quote: “Play structures in terrible condition. Swings are broken. Triangle is an accident waiting to happen. We don’t have a hard surface area. Some windows are very low; lots of rodents get into the building.”
PARISH PLAN: The school is 83 years old. The proposal notes that it must be “reconfigured for key aspects such as physical accessibility” but says it has potential for expansion, including additional classrooms. It was picked to stay open as it is the only primary school in the parish.
Dalton E Tucker Primary
SCORE: A “major concern and challenge” cited was that cars and children come in through the same entry making it unsafe. Water drainage was also an issue.
Quote: “Drop-off area needs improvement … Dropping off/reloading area is a major concern and challenge … Logistics (driving/parking) in front of building is a challenge.”
PARISH PLAN: The youngest school in the parish, built in 1963, Dalton E Tucker scored higher than Port Royal and Heron Bay on existing building conditions and land/property conditions. It was found to have a “high level of development capacity for expansion”.
East End Primary
SCORE: East End was described as “significantly underutilised” and the only wheelchair accessible school in the east end. But there were concerns about plumbing and odour in the water in the staff room.
Quote: “The library needs to be re-vamped … it seems musty.”
PARISH PLAN: East End, built almost 100 years ago, scored better than St George’s Prep and St David’s, which would both close under the plan. It got higher scores for land/property conditions, and health and safety. Its outdoor space was in its favour, with room for expansion and the capacity for 300 students, plus staff.
SCORE: The report described the school as severely over-utilised.
Quote: “Main concern is safety – promised cameras would work but has not happened – only three working. Tables that computers are on are not level.”
PARISH PLAN: Purvis, which was built in 1946, was chosen to remain open because it is the only primary school in the parish. It has a large site, room for expansion and the space to accommodate a preschool.