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Parent launches survey on primary school closure plan

A survey has been launched by a parent of public schoolchildren about the Government’s school closure plan (Image supplied)

A parent of public schoolchildren has launched a survey to gather opinion on the process used by the Government to determine which primary schools should close as part of its education reform plans.

Rajai Denbrook said the aim was to facilitate an “honest and full conversation” about the plans which include having only one school per parish with the exception of Pembroke which will have two.

The survey includes 19 multiple-choice questions and takes about five minutes to complete. Participants are able to do it anonymously.

The Government has said that schools closure criteria were largely based on the state of the school buildings and premises, their capacity to accommodate 21st century learning and the inclusion of an adjoined preschool.

Mr Denbrook said: “This new approach to primary education could mean very real progress for us on many different levels, but the process taken may be undermining this.

“I have my opinion, which I recently shared publicly, but the survey allows the wider community to share theirs — 400 responses would be ideal and is the aim.”

The survey can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3O52dYn. Results will be shared publicly and directly with the Ministry of Education.

The survey asks questions surrounding whether consultation for the Parish Primary School was adequate and whether participants agree with the final outcome.

“Collecting this data is not meant to be confrontational,” Mr Denbrook said. “It’s meant to position us to have an honest and full conversation about how we’ve arrived where we have, the impact this has had, and what should be prioritised when pursuing this level of change.

“Our leaders have the opportunity to inspire stakeholders to be a part of this rather than relying on bureaucracy to advance their agenda. The data from the survey can help achieve this.”

The Government consulted stakeholders and the community on its original plan outlined in December 2020 to close nine primary schools: St George's Preparatory School, St George’s, St David's Primary School, St George’s, Prospect Primary School, Devonshire, Elliot Primary School, Devonshire, Northlands Primary School, Pembroke, Gilbert Institute, Paget, Heron Bay Primary School, Southampton, Port Royal Primary School, Southampton and West End Primary School, Sandys.

The only change from the original list of school closures post consultation was the exclusion of Elliot Primary School.

Mr Denbrook wrote an opinion piece in April this year saying: “To many, consultation has seemed more of a formality than a sincere exercise in engagement and consensus-building.

“No comprehensive plan has been shared for an intensely ambitious vision that will affect every facet of education delivery.

“Notably, the Parish Primary vision, and school closures therein, was not included in the Government’s 2020 election platform as an education reform strategy, thus it is a change the electorate did not vote for and was not expecting.

“The consultation process did not give stakeholders sufficient opportunity to be a part of designing a holistic primary school vision that required school closures.”

He said consultation was advanced during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic which may have hindered participation.

Mr Denbrook added: “It must be noted that recruitment has begun for a new school transformation team cohort for Parish Primary Schools where stakeholders will have a say, however, this is being done after the fact when schools have already been identified for closure through what many feel was an insincere process.

As a result, who will be inspired to actively participate in a change they do not support?”

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Published June 10, 2022 at 5:45 pm (Updated June 10, 2022 at 6:15 pm)

Parent launches survey on primary school closure plan

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