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BUT general secretary leaves after he was asked to step down

Mike Charles, the former general secretary of the Bermuda Union of Teachers (File photograph)

The general secretary of the Bermuda Union of Teachers has stepped down after 22 years in the job at the request of the union.

Mike Charles confirmed that he was asked to quit and that he left the job in early June.

But he refused to discuss the reasons for his departure and referred questions to the BUT.

The union did not respond to questions, including the reasons behind the decision and if a successor had been appointed.

Mr Charles added he had reservations about the Government’s plans to phase out middle schools and close some primary schools, but wished it well.

He highlighted that, despite months of consultation over which primary schools to close, the final decision was almost exactly the same as the Government at first proposed.

Mr Charles said: “I always had a problem with the idea of consultation with this Government.

“I talk to ministers and it is more like information than consultation – ‘this is what we are doing’.

“It is all about politics which shouldn’t be a part of education.

“They need to let the educators take charge, politicians are there to get themselves re-elected.

“They want to phase out middle schools as it was part of their election promise – but where is the data about how middle schools are failing?”

Mr Charles added: “As for the curriculum, we adopted the Cambridge curriculum which wasn’t suited for Bermuda – it was suited for upper class international schools.

“What we have heard about future curriculums has been vague.”

But Mr Charles said: “I have enjoyed my time. The BUT has made great strides over the years, thanks to lots of hard work.

“You look at the strength of the unions and we are one of the top and we are the oldest – we had our 100th anniversary in 2019.

“We have been able to improve negotiations and improved conditions for teachers. I am proud of the work we have done.”

He became the BUT general secretary in early 1999 after his predecessor Milton Scott became a Government minister after the Progressive Labour Party General Election victory of 1998 and stepped down from the role.

Mr Charles, a teacher at Paget Primary for about 20 years, was twice president of the BUT – once in the 1980s and again in 1996.

Mr Charles also paid tribute to Livingston Tuzo, a veteran principal and former president of the Bermuda Association of School Principals, who died this month.

He added: “Mr Tuzo was a great friend of mine and we worked together as teachers when he was at the Gilbert Institute and I was at Paget Primary School.

“When he was president of the principals’ association we worked out many differences between teachers and principals. He was very reliable.”

Mr Charles said he planned to travel and spend more time on his garden, but hoped to remain involved in public service.

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Published August 11, 2021 at 5:56 pm (Updated August 11, 2021 at 5:56 pm)

BUT general secretary leaves after he was asked to step down

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