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Public to have their say on 'signatures' for secondary schools

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (File photograph)

The Ministry of Education is seeking public feedback on the development of signature schools.

The ministry is to invite members of the community to have their say on what signatures or specialities are needed in Bermuda’s schools.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, speaking during a virtual press conference, said: “Consultation, communication and engagement … are paramount”.

Also in attendance were Laurel Burns of school redesign team Learning First and Keren Caple of consultants Innovation Unit.

In April, a pack of materials that outlines a set of proposed signatures for senior schools will be sent out to all education stakeholders via e-mail, social media posts and the Learning First newsletter.

Mr Rabain said: “It will contain slides and cards with multiple ways people can send feedback and include questions.”

The new Education Amendment Act passed in the House of Assembly on March 20 identifies tourism, finance, insurance and the trades as priority, career-focused signatures to be introduced.

The additional signatures being proposed are building, construction and maintenance which fall under the trades section, climate environment and resources, community safety and social justice, education services, entrepreneurship, health and social care, the arts, sports and leisure, and STEAM.

Ms Caple said STEAM in the Bermuda context would include agriculture.

She said: “There were emerging insights about the importance of agriculture sciences and agriculture trade to the island, food security and the desire for there to be agriculture embedded in the broader categories.”

The Education Amendment Act removes the middle school system through a change in the age ranges for primary and senior schools.

The Government will also be seeking input as to which signatures should be the first in place at CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute when they convert to signature schools in September 2022.

Mr Rabain said that decisions were yet to be made about how the transition process would pan out after the establishment of the first two signature schools.

“We are not planning to turn off the lights on Friday and come in on Monday and everything is changed – there will be a transition.

“In 2022, those who are moving into M3, meaning anyone who is in M1 now, will theoretically be in S1. They may physically still be in the middle school location but they will actually be S1 students at that point. There will be some crossover.”

Mr Rabain said that the ministry would ensure minimal disruption during the transition.

Ms Burns said that students would be focusing on their signatures around 20 per cent of the time while the core curriculum would take up the remainder.

Mr Rabain said that there will be at least two signatures per school and that the overall number of signatures across the senior school system had not yet been determined.

Students would have the option to select a major and minor signature.

Mr Rabain said: “Students with a strong passion for their major will be able to follow it on an extended basis and not take a minor.”

He added: “Over time, signatures will be delivered through blended learning – a combination of face-to-face and online enabling them to do major signatures in the school they attend and a minor signature at another school.”

Ms Caple said that work was being done in supporting educators in their professional development, introducing consistent teaching standards and raising the profile of the teaching profession.

She said: “It has been essential to continue to deepen our understanding about what contributes to effective teacher performance and improvement, and find out what fresh approaches to professional growth are being trialled in the sector here and globally.”

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Published March 31, 2021 at 1:26 pm (Updated March 31, 2021 at 3:58 pm)

Public to have their say on 'signatures' for secondary schools

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