Schools Report: Submissions for and against closure plan
The views of about 1,000 members of the community were released by the government in the Parish Primary School Consultation Submissions report.
Comments were made in favour of and against the government’s Parish Primary School Plan.
The vast majority of submissions were made online via a survey but there were also e-mailed contributions including a 20-page submission against the closure of West End Primary School, a close to 60-page submission against the closure of St George’s Preparatory School by the school’s PTA and community members, and a 12-page submission by the Bermuda Education Network (BEN) promoting early intervention measures.
BEN also presented objections to the closure of St George’s Prep and Gilbert Institute.
Here is a selection of comments made in the report:
Parent, St David’s Primary: “The curriculum is my concern. The analogy I will use is as follows, ‘dressing the part is not too difficult, anyone can clean up and wear attire for the occasion but will they follow through and exceed the expectations?’
“That said, are we going to invest in our talent pool and create a robust curriculum that will ensure these proposed buildings are equip with ALL the tools to be successful.“
Parent and school staff member: “I really support the fact that this government is being brave enough to streamline primary education, which will necessitate redundancies or halt new hires.”
Name/role redacted: “Until teachers and principals and counsellors are held accountable there will be little change in the development of our children. You can build the best schools, have the most relevant curriculum in place, but you will not get the results you are seeking. If the teachers cannot deliver the goods, we might as well stay as we are. Spend the money on re-educating many of the public schoolteachers.”
Retired St George’s Preparatory School teacher: “I understand the rationale but having been in system many years as an employee/parent/PTA leader/grandparent, I don’t agree with the current plan of action.”
West End Primary alumni: “The schools you are considering closing were built on the backs of our ancestors and who have been and still are the strong hold for our governing party. Why are we willing to keep a school whose sole reason for existence was to keep us out?”
Associate of St George’s Prep: “It is important to have teacher/parent relationships. A smaller family environment helps to achieve this. Packing schools full of children can contribute to students who need help the most going unnoticed. This also puts more strain on the teachers …
“The children have already been through so much, having to change schools and adjust to a new environment, new teachers, will be a detriment to their well being. The teachers and principal at this school are compassionate, accommodating and truly have the children’s interest at heart.”
Parent, school staff member, Department of Education staff member, St George’s Prep: “It does not seem cost effective to close an aided school that funds its facility, custodian and secretary. St George’s Prep has full classes and a waiting list of people in the community choosing it as its parish school.”
BEN submission: “We oppose the closure of Gilbert Institute because it is in a central location which is close to the hospital and has the potential to serve students with special needs. We believe it should remain open and have smaller numbers of students (75) including those with hearing disabilities who it currently serves and potentially some students with physical disabilities in order to relieve the pressure on Hope Academy.“
Family member/school staff member associated with The Berkeley Institute and Sandys Secondary School: “I believe parish primary schools will increase equity and access – we will no longer have primary schools within each parish competing against each other instead of working collectively to improve teaching and learning.”
Parent, Prospect Primary: “When it comes to special needs they need the class size to be small so they can get the help they need.”
Parent, West End Primary: “I think it will be beneficial to keep two primary schools in St George's, Southampton, and Sandys especially with the addition of P7 and P8 and keeping in mind the new normal of social distancing … I do agree that some schools will need to close in order to free up some money for upgrades to those remaining open.”
Harrington Sound Primary School parent: “Signature schools are needed to enhance the interest of those students who are not academically focused.”
Parent/DoE staff member: “We want to make sure the logistics of consolidation are prioritised so that we aren't left with empty, derelict buildings and under-serviced, ill-equipped, overcrowded schools. We live near TN Tatem and can already see the building deteriorating into no return.”
Grandparent, St David’s Primary: “You may or may not recall that we had schools at secondary level that were dedicated to vocation etc. Schools at one time did go to P7. We also had a school for students with behaviour problems. We need to be careful that we are not bringing a system that labels our children.”
Community member: “I think that public education in Bermuda is shockingly bad. It does not prepare Bermudian students who are not privately educated to participate in the Bermudian workforce.”
Parent, Elliot Primary: “Elliot is a big part of Devonshire … In fact, when I read the 'vision' for the parish rallying around a primary school, I immediately thought it described Elliot.”
Business community member: “There is an aversion of the government to admit the decline in public school enrolment has coincided with an increase in private school enrolment and waiting lists. Approaching a problem with denial in itself creates more problems … I understand a student's performance is attributed to numerous factors, but to say a school's merit shouldn't be based on the academic performance of it's students is highly concerning, and raises questions about the expertise involved in these scores.”
DoE staff member: “With regards to St David’s Primary you will be removing a pillar of the community. There is pride that emanates from the school.”
Parent/business community member: “The reasons and rationale are poorly thought out and presented. There is no data showing how much the initiative will cost, how long it will take or where the money will come from. This vital information must be provided before deciding to close schools.”
Parent, Lagoon Park Preschool: “Even when change might be scary for many of us, if planned properly could benefit students.”
School staff member: “Facilities need to be updated – 21st century learning spaces are vital – providing resources across 10 parish schools is more reasonable than stretching resources across 18 primary schools – smaller class sizes – restorative practices – wraparound services.”