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Paget and Devonshire primary schools to close in June 2025

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Prospect Primary School is to close and become a signature school for those with exceptionalities (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Gilbert Institute in Paget and Prospect Primary School in Devonshire are to close their doors in June next year, with Prospect slated to be reopened as a signature school for students with exceptionalities.

While the Ministry of Education announced in April 2023 that the two schools were next to be closed, Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said at a press conference yesterday that the timeline for school closures could change.

The move is part of the restructuring of the public school system in phasing out middle schools, introducing signature schools at the senior level and creating parish primary schools.

There will be one primary school per parish under the plans, barring Pembroke and St George’s, the latter in the wake of a rescoring process.

Mr Rabain said: “The decision to close these two schools at the end of June 2025 was based on several factors.

“One, the rescoring process did not alter any of the previous decisions for the central school zones. As such, the timeline of closures for these two schools, which was shared with the school and the broader community in April 2023, will remain.

“Two, the capacity to accommodate the students from Gilbert and Prospect in other central-zoned schools.

“Three, for the Prospect Primary School building, addressing the infrastructure issues to redevelop the site into a signature school for exceptionalities is more practical with the school being empty.

“Principals for both schools have been notified and we will meet with staff and parents tomorrow [Tuesday]. More detailed information about staffing decisions, school transfers, assistance with parents and other logistics will be discussed during these meeting.

“The Department of Education will be working to ensure that the transition will be as seamless as possible.”

Gilbert Institute is to close in June (Google image)
Support with the transition

Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, will facilitate an implementation plan which focuses on:

• Individual and group counselling support for students, parents and staff, including wellness and HR support

• Guidance on student transition, integration and special programmes, with information sessions for parents

• Transfer of academic records and logistical details such as uniforms, transportation and site visits

• Activities and events to help students and staff manage the school closing process.

• Staff career support, participation in the School Transition Teams and year-end closing event involvement

Mr Rabain said that the transition will have an impact on the school system and broader community, adding “losing a significant fixture in our community is hard”.

There are 80 students enrolled at Prospect Primary and 65 at Gilbert.

He added that, through the Government’s History and Legacy Committee, work will be done to ensure that the memory of both schools is recognised and honoured.

“The committee will oversee critical processes to invite, approve and oversee projects to meet the outcomes of documenting, preserving, honouring and commemorating the history and legacy of education in Bermuda, including Gilbert Institute and Prospect Primary,” Mr Rabain said.

He said that the rest of the revised plan to transition from a three-tier to a two-tier system will continue to be developed over the summer, with a view to an announcement being made to all stakeholders in Term 1 of the 2024-25 school year.

Last year, it was announced that Northlands Primary School in Pembroke would begin to phase out with no new intakes starting in September, while West End Primary in Sandys and Port Royal Primary in Southampton would begin to phase out with no new intakes, starting in September 2026.

It was also announced then that Dellwood Middle School in Pembroke is to close as a middle school in June 2026 and Sandys Secondary Middle School is to close as a middle school in June 2027.

However, Mr Rabain said at the press conference that the timeline could change on the plan, not least owing to the rescoring process that led to St David’s Primary School and West End Primary School being saved from closure.

He said that the process to determine the order of school closures is labour-intensive and must factor in:

• Student movement with the least disruption

• Location of preschools at each primary site

• Placement of special programmes

• Staff movement

• Learning environments and construction timelines

• Advance notice for closures

Mr Rabain said use of the Gilbert Institute building is being considered and could include housing an arm of the Bermuda College or the Education Reform Unit.

He added: “We understand that a full school system transformation like ours can be lengthy and sometimes disruptive. However, through the Ministry of Education, the Government of Bermuda is dedicated to improving public education for every learner.

“We note that as we work through reforming our education system, we must support our students, staff and families throughout this process.

“The Ministry of Education will continue providing regular updates to our BPSS staff, parents, community partners, unions, PTSAs, and the general public through various communication channels and engagement events.

“Change, while challenging, is essential for progress. We are committed to providing our children with the best educational environments possible.”

In March 2023, the Government announced the plan to close Clearwater Middle School in St George’s and reopen it as a signature school, and to close Heron Bay Primary School in Southampton permanently.

He said low enrolment numbers at each school were among the factors that were considered when making the decision. Then, there were 71 students at Clearwater compared with an average of 225 at other middle schools, and 59 at Heron Bay.

As part of the Government’s education reform plans, which includes the phasing out of all middle schools, there will be up to five signature schools in Bermuda.

The first two signature schools opened at The Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy. Sandys Secondary Middle School and Clearwater Middle School were previously confirmed as the next two to become signatures.

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Published June 25, 2024 at 8:01 am (Updated June 25, 2024 at 5:51 pm)

Paget and Devonshire primary schools to close in June 2025

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