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Schools shake-up 'almost certain to fail', PTAs’ report warns

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St George’s Preparatory School (File photograph)
St David’s Primary School (File photograph)
East End Primary School (File photograph)

The government’s school shake-up plan is almost certain to fail because of “considerable shortcomings”, a joint report from East End Parent Teacher Associations has warned.

The Support the St George’s Parish Community Response report was written by PTAs members from East End Primary, St David’s Primary, and St George’s Preparatory School, as well as members of the public, in response to a plan to close nine primary schools.

The report said: “After thorough review and consultation, we believe the considerable shortcomings of this proposal will be fundamentally problematic, and will almost certainly inhibit any kind of successful reform.”

The report highlighted what it said was a “severe lack of transparency, accountability and leadership” over the process.

It added it was “almost impossible” to understand how schools are performing against each other and against international benchmarks“.

The report said there was a need to revisit the consultation process with “meaningful feedback” opportunities “at each step of the proposed changes” and suggested a pilot programme.

It added: “Even with the most thorough plans and the most competent teams, pilot schemes repeatedly add value.”

The report said that not enough information was given to the public to make an informed decision about the proposed changes, which also includes building a new primary school.

It added there was little information about the cost of a new school or how it would be funded – but predicted the pricetag could hit $207 million.

The report said: “Globally, fiscal responsibility has never been more important and there is no mention as to how this reform is to be funded.“

It added: “We believe this proposal lacks sufficient detail for any person to make an informed decision to support.

“For example, though it is highlighted that successful education reform needs to address fundamental shortcomings in teacher performance, the curriculum, assessment frameworks and accreditation models, the proposal fails to address any of these issues.”

It said that basing school closures on school buildings and premises, as the proposal does in part, went against a “plethora” of academic research, including that in the 2007 Hopkins Report on education on the island.

The authors added: “We believe wholeheartedly that school closure decisions should be driven by academic performance, again in alignment with academic research, and that we should be examining our current successes and replicating where we can.

“This proposal essentially penalises those primary schools that are currently providing a high standard of education to our children as opposed to understanding better how they work and applying this model nationwide.“

St George’s Prep, an aided school, is one of the top performing schools on the island.

The report said Government’s plan also failed to tackled shortcomings in teacher performance, the curriculum, assessment framework and accreditation models.

It also claimed that the consultation process was not legally sound.

The report said: "As a public sector initiative, the proposal demonstrates a lack of proper consultation.

“It fails to meet both the basic principles of effective consultation, as well as the legal requirements that stipulate consultation must occur when proposals are still in a formative stage.

“It is well understood that a lack of proper consultation results in less-informed decision making, lesser satisfaction from stakeholders with the outcome and, most critically, a lesser chance of successful implementation.

“This is a complicated undertaking.”

The Ministry of Education did not respond to questions on the new report.

The deadline for submissions on the parish primary schools proposal is Friday.

Submissions can be made through the Ministry of Education’s website or by e-mail to consultation@moed.bm

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Published March 09, 2021 at 12:33 pm (Updated March 10, 2021 at 2:43 pm)

Schools shake-up 'almost certain to fail', PTAs’ report warns

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