Education minister moves to clarify role of reform team
The education minister moved to clarify the roles of the Education Reform Unit and the Department of Education during this morning’s House of Assembly session.
Diallo Rabain reiterated plans he announced in November affecting the governance, leadership and delivery of education reform, and added that “as the new approach to taking education reform forward, protocols are in place to clarify where responsibility and decision-making authority lies between the Education Reform Unit and the Department of Education”.
He said that through the leadership of Lisa DeSilva, a “well-respected education veteran”, the Education Reform Unit is responsible for designing the "school and system of the future“, and ensuring that the conditions are in place for that to succeed.
He said that the Department of Education, through the leadership of Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, is responsible for “continuing provision within the current model of schools and the system, and supporting and enabling the transition to the new models”.
Mr Rabain said: “Regardless of where people sit or their responsibilities, they share, and are united by, a laser-like focus on Bermuda’s children and young people. As such, we look forward to the shared guidance and leadership of both Ms De Silva and commissioner Richards as they work to ensure everyone involved in education works collaboratively towards the same goal.”
As previously announced, a governance committee was set up and is co-chaired by the minister and Philip Butterfield, chairman of the Bermuda First non-political advisory group. Ms Smith, Ms Richards and Ms DeSilva sit on the governance committee.
Mr Rabain said during questions: “The governance team is mostly to look at what is happening in the Education Reform Unit, what is happening in education and, when there is a conflict, a team is able to talk about how we resolve those conflicts.”
The governance committee was given “increased independence and decision-making authority” last year in preparation for the formation of an Education Authority.
Susan Jackson, the opposition spokeswoman for education in the House, said there should be an “independent eye“ on the workings of education reform.
She said: “Why we wouldn’t have an independent resource, within or without, that could give that double check?”
Mr Rabain said: “Everything that we do and everything we say is governed by our stakeholders — they have immense input into what it is that we are doing.”
In his presentation, he said: “Delivery of education reform will continue to involve the whole community through school transformation teams and working groups, and I thank each member of these teams for their dedication and commitment to redesigning schools and the system on behalf of us all, and encourage anyone else that is interested to come forward to offer their support.”
Ms Jackson asked if talent will be sought from overseas for leadership of the Education Authority.
Mr Rabain said: “We need to understand that our children deserve the best, and sometimes we need to cast that net as wide and far as we can in order to get the best possible person.”
He added: “There are legal aspects but also cultural aspects and we are constantly balancing that. There have to be cultural sensitivities attached to that to ensure that we get the best possible people on there that want to see our people move forward.”
The only apparent change in today’s announcement about the governance committee was that there was no mention of a representative from Innovation Unit Australia New Zealand being on the committee. Innovation Unit just had its contract extended by a year to the tune of $1.9 million. Shana Williams was also named as being the representative from the Education Authority Working Group.
Mr Rabain said in November that the group, set up in 2021, had yet to determine how the board of an Education Authority would be selected but that governance should be “supportive and enabling, not directing and controlling”.
The Governance Committee
Co-chaired by Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, and Philip Butterfield, the chairman of Bermuda First. Other members include Jasmin Smith, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education, Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, Lisa DeSilva, the lead for the Education Reform Unit, and Shana Williams, a representative of the Education Authority Working Group.
A non-political group commissioned by David Burt, the Premier, to put forward ideas on transformational change to help Bermuda to address its largest socio-economic challenges.
Education Reform Unit
Lisa DeSilva heads the Education Reform Unit, which replaced the Learning First Internal Governance team and resides in the Ministry of Education headquarters. It is responsible for “designing the school and system of the future and ensuring that the conditions are in place for that to succeed”. Mr Rabain said it is made up of “professionals, educators and technical service providers”.
Department of Education
A government department under the Ministry of Education headed by Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education. It is responsible for “continuing provision within the current model of schools and the system, and supporting and enabling the transition to the new models”.
Education Authority Working Group
Set up in 2021 to determine how the board of an Education Authority would be selected, the Education Authority Working Group is led by “change and education professionals” consulting with education stakeholders. Mr Rabain said the group was also tasked with “providing recommendations and proposals to the Government on establishing and operationalising the Education Authority”.
An Education Authority is being established. Mr Rabain said it would be a government-funded authority that will take charge of performance and accountability in the education system. He said it would “control the direction and development of education in Bermuda”.
Innovation Unit Australia New Zealand
An overseas consultancy firm hired to redesign Bermuda’s public education system. It was paid $2.1 million from March 23, 2020 to September 30, 2022 and has been allocated an extra $1.9 million from November 1, 2022 until September 30 this year.
School transformation teams and working groups
Made up of education stakeholders — education professionals, parents, business and community members — working on redesigning schools and the system. Mr Rabain said they participate in the “designing, prototyping and implementation of new models of teaching, learning and schooling”.
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