Students to get hands-on learning thanks to new adopt-a-school scheme
School pupils are getting broader access to technical education through a partnership between Hamilton Rotary Club and former students of the Bermuda Technical Institute.
An adopt-a-school programme is starting with Paget Primary School to boost hands-on learning, beginning with carpentry classes for boys and girls this September.
Rick Richardson, the new president of Hamilton Rotary, said the group would work with the Bermuda Technical Institute Association, created by graduates of the Bermuda Technical Institute, which opened in 1956 and closed in 1972.
Alumni of the school, including Mr Richardson, have campaigned for greater access to technical education for the island’s young men to deal with antisocial behaviour.
Mr Richardson said technical skills developed critical thinking in young children, particularly those at risk of “falling through the cracks”.
He added: “If we don’t start teaching our young people, of all different backgrounds and not just what we call at-risk, we are never going to arrest this trend we have of people from great home who right now are going astray, and very early.”
Hamilton Rotary heard on Tuesday from Kevin Bean, a senior adjunct lecturer at the Bermuda College for the prerequisite technical programme who will be delivering woodworking classes in the coming school year at Paget Primary.
Mr Bean, who also teaches the college’s diploma in carpentry, described his discovery of woodworking at Sandys Secondary Middle School.
“I got hooked on education – all I wanted to do was to be a carpenter,” he told Rotarians.
Mr Bean said he was one of just three Bermudian graduates of Shoreditch College in the UK, which offers extensive technical training.
“I’ve seen the impact technical education has on boys,” he said, highlighting the capacity of technical classes to cover all six areas of education in the model known as Bloom’s taxonomy: creating, evaluating, analysing, applying, understanding and remembering.
The Paget Primary programme, which is funded by Hamilton Rotary along with BTIA members, will “focus on the basics of fundamental carpentry that lead to promoting critical thinking along with creativity,” he said.
The classes will cater to both genders – but Mr Bean said the groups learnt in a different ways, with boys in particular standing to benefit.
“Once a student gets into that mindset, it actually promotes confidence, it promotes self-esteem, and it gets them into being a disciplined person.”
The adopt-a-school concept has a history in Bermuda: a scheme was launched in 2010 under the then education minister and former premier Dame Jennifer Smith.
Mansfield Brock, a former head teacher of Sandys Secondary Middle School and Mr Bean’s former principal, told the meeting that during his tenure the school provided the same level of learning at the Bermuda Technical Institute.
He added: “Many people do not know, but there was nothing at the Tech that was not taught in Sandys.”
Mr Richardson said a number of the island’s high schools had offered “technical education along with academics”.
“That’s something that BTIA and the alumni have been trying to say. They are not mutually exclusive.”
Mr Richardson, who is chairman of the BTIA, said the adopt-a-school programme dovetailed with the values of the Rotary.
The club has provided research and development funding to the BTIA to look into expanding technical education for young people.
Mr Richardson said Paget Primary School head teacher Sonia Haley, who attended Mr Bean’s lecture, would meet with him over the summer to develop the programme according to the school’s needs.
Boosting technical education “won’t be a panacea” for the island’s social ills, he said. But he said Ms Haley welcomed the programme as “a godsend” for the school.
“We plan to move on this pretty quickly,” Mr Richardson said. “Come September, it will be in gear.”