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Education group welcomes Govt move

Plans for involving PTA groups in the improvement of the Island's public schools were welcomed by the Bermuda Education Network (BEN) which endorsed Government's proposed creation of school advisory councils.

Education Minister Nalton Brangman announced earlier this week that school boards at Government-run schools should be eliminated in favour of a new model for parental involvement.

The move came after a Supreme Court decision affirming the right of PTAs to be consulted was interpreted by the Ministry as granting PTAs an administrative power equivalent to boards.

BEN head Becky Ausenda said several schools were already working on their own designs to involve the community more closely.

“We welcome the Government's apparent willingness to consider the idea of school advisory councils,” she told The Royal Gazette.

“The PTA system is good, but its not as good as a system involving wider representation from the community — including alumni, businesses and other education groups that want to support schools.”

The Ministry hasn't committed to any replacement for school boards, but has called for input from parents and the community on how they envisage getting involved.

Venues are to be announced next week for public meetings to be held on October 2, 8 and 9 for feedback on how best to amend the Education Act, 1996.

Speaking in favour of the advisory councils, Ms Ausenda pointed to BEN's Horizons summer youth development project as an example of how parents, former students and non-profit groups could team up for school support.

The programme has evolved over three years into “an unlikely coalition of churches, schools, businesses and corporations who decided to support 25 students during the summer”, she said.

“There has to be some kind of halfway between PTAs and the governing bodies of schools,” Ms Ausenda added.

Senator Brangman's proposed amendments to the Act last night received a guarded response from the Bermuda Parent Teachers Students Association.

A spokesman for the group told this newspaper: “The 2012 PTA Court decision reaffirmed the PTAs legal right to be consulted about matters that affect the education of their children.

“We believe the government should embrace the decision and partner with parents to improve the educational system instead of trying to do the opposite. Any attempt to legally reduce the involvement of parents in their students' education is both ill conceived and counterproductive. We are currently in the process of meeting with the individual PTA representatives before arranging to meet with the Minister to convey this message.”

Primary students from Victor Scott, Francis Patton and Prospect Primary enjoy some time out on the water courtesy of the Bermuda Education Network's Horizons activities programme. With public schools looking to open new channels for parental and community involvement, the programme is being held up as an example of how to involve the community in enhancing the Island's public schools.

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Published September 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 20, 2013 at 10:42 pm)

Education group welcomes Govt move

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