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TN Tatem could be in line for new life as signature school: minister

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TN Tatem Middle School in Warwick could be reopened as the latest signature school. (File photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

The old TN Tatem building — closed due to mould — could be used for a third signature school, according to the Minister of Education.

Diallo Rabain told The Royal Gazette that a senior-level signature school would likely be located at one of the four publicly funded middle schools currently operating, but added that it could end up at TN Tatem, which closed in 2020.

“More than likely the signature school will be in one of the existing middle schools or TN Tatem,” he said. “We are trying to phase out middle schools so it makes sense for us to utilise those buildings because they won’t be used as middle schools any more.”

When TN Tatem closed after longstanding mould issues, Mr Rabain said it would cost $3 million and take at least ten months to carry out necessary repairs at the Warwick-based school.

Mr Rabain announced last week that the third signature school, following on from CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute, which are due to open as signature schools in September, will offer two signature learning programmes: hospitality and tourism, and education services.

He said that the first two parish primary schools will open at Francis Patton Primary School in Hamilton and Purvis Primary School in Warwick.

The Government’s plans require there to be only one school per parish with the exception of Pembroke, which will have two. With there being only one school in Hamilton and Warwick, there will be no primary school closures next year, Mr Rabain said.

However, he did say that at least one more parish primary school would open within 18 months of Francis Patton and Purvis and if there is more than one school in the parish or parishes chosen, then those remaining in the parish would close.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

“There is only one other parish with one primary school and that is Smith’s, so if we come and announce two next year, that would mean we are talking about a parish with more than one primary school.”

Mr Rabain said the fact that a primary school would not be forced to close did factor into the choosing of Francis Patton and Purvis but said there were other reasons such as the size and population of the schools, and space for development.

Francis Patton Primary School is one of the first two primary schools to open under the Government’s parish primary school plan (File photograph)

A project management team is due to arrive on the island next week to discuss ways to finance improvements to school buildings. Mr Rabain said a report would be drawn up within six months that would help to determine financing options.

“This part is about the structural things that are needed in terms of the buildings and what renovations or potential rebuilds that are needed.

“We have to see what this team comes back with and the best way to move forward and that will give an indication of the funding that is going to be needed.”

When Francis Patton and Purvis open, they will operate under the new system with preschools on site — a requirement under the parish primary school plan — different teaching and learning methods, classrooms “equipped for 21st-century learning” and a P1 to P8 structure rather than the current P1 to P6.

Purvis Primary School is one of the first two primary schools to open under the Government’s parish primary school plan (File photograph)

Recognising that there may be pupils who move from a primary school operating under the old system to one under the new system, Mr Rabain said: “We have to deal with those issues as they arise.

“Those are the types of nuances that need to be fleshed out because in some cases we will have the new system operating parallel to the old system and we have to figure out how students go back and forth between them if that comes up.”

Mr Rabain did not provide a figure on how much it has cost so far to establish the signature schools at CedarBridge and Berkeley but said the majority of funds are allocated to consultants.

Innovation Unit Australia New Zealand will receive $2.1 million for a two-and-a-half-year contract due to end in September. Innovation worked in partnership with the Department of Education to design the Learning First programme that involves reshaping the public education system.

Mr Rabain said that some educators had been “pulled out” to help to formulate the signature content and had been replaced with substitute teachers.

In the 2022-23 budget, Mr Rabain revealed, the allocation for substitute teachers was increased by $1.69 million to $2.77 million. He said about $1.3m of the cash would be used for salary increases and the remaining $393,000 for additional substitutes.

Mr Rabain said this week: “We will be sure to get a response on how much money has been spent thus far on CedarBridge and Berkeley. We are still looking at what additional monies need to be spent over the next year for facilities upgrades. Once we know those numbers, we can talk about that.”

CedarBridge Academy’s government grant was cut by $34,000 in the recent Budget.

“The reduction was in operational costs because CedarBridge are doing something more efficiently than what they were doing before so we could move that money away but they do have funding for capital development that was approved,” Mr Rabain said.

CedarBridge Academy works received $350,000 in the Budget.

“We are still waiting to see what additional things we need and we will find the funding for it.”

Mr Rabain invited the public to sign up to join the development teams for signature schools via www.learningfirstbda.com.

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Published April 06, 2022 at 7:37 am (Updated April 06, 2022 at 7:37 am)

TN Tatem could be in line for new life as signature school: minister

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