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Signature schools an exercise in disruption

Change agent: education minister Diallo Rabain (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dear Sir,

I noted with concern that the recent Throne Speech contained the concept proposed by the education minister via a statement in June of this year with respect to replacing middle schools with “signature schools”.

Subsequent to the June statement, I had written to the minister, as well as the chairman of the Board of Education, outlining the many structural changes in the public education system commencing in the 1950s. Each such change was required by the political authorities in an effort to solve a perceived urgent problem in the system.

I informed them that international research had demonstrated such structural changes disrupt any system and are rarely carried out effectively. Rather, the successful approach was found to be a focus on improving the quality of the education providers at schools. This was done by requiring them to receive initial training at a high-quality university as well as by regular high-quality, subsequent local training of both teachers and principals.

Once the training was completed, there would be an ongoing programme in which the teachers would be provided with time during the school day in which they could work together in a co-operative/collegial manner to discuss and implement ways to improve student outcomes.

Such a process may appear to be more costly initially, but was found to be less costly and more effective in the long run.