Outerbridge into Cabinet, Scott steps down
Nandi Outerbridge has landed her first Cabinet position, with Cole Simons replacing Wayne Scott as Minister of Education.
In a Cabinet reshuffle announced yesterday afternoon, Ms Outerbridge was sworn in as Minister of Social Development and Sport, taking over from Sylvan Richards, who replaces Mr Simons in Environment and Planning.
Mr Scott's departure comes shortly after Paul Wagstaff declined the role of Commissioner of Education; it is understood he has left Cabinet to pursue other interests. Leah Scott is the new Junior Minister of Education.
Mr Simons is the One Bermuda Alliance's fourth education minister in four years, following Mr Scott, Grant Gibbons and Nalton Brangman.
Speaking on the appointment at a ceremony at Government House, Michael Dunkley, the Premier, said: “Minister Simons has proved himself a very capable performer in Cabinet, moving issues forward for consultation and decision, and providing a perspective to discussions that brings into play his business knowledge, his compassion for others and his love of country.”
Mr Simons, speaking to this newspaper shortly after being sworn in, said while he needs to get up to speed on the issues facing education in the coming weeks, he was keen to address vocational opportunities for Bermudians.
He said: “My priority for education is this: all Bermudians have different learning styles and we have to address those learning styles. You can be academic, hands on, musical or artistic. People grow through different methods.
“It will be about servicing students who have different learning styles so that we can give parents and students options in our education system.”
He highlighted that he had previously held the position of Shadow Minister of Education, saying: “It gave me some insight into how it operates all the different departments and services that are provided.”
Mr Simons was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1998 and has been described by Mr Dunkley as “one of our most seasoned ministers”. He has also served as Opposition house leader and whip.
The Premier said he had confidence in Ms Outerbridge to “take the next step” in her political career as, at 29, she became the youngest person to enter Cabinet in recent history.
“I have worked with and supported Nandi for nearly five years now, and can say with conviction that she is smart, organised and strong,” Mr Dunkley said.
“Nandi has grown from year to year in confidence and knowledge. She has proven herself as an MP, Government house leader and party whip, and she has carried forward her responsibilities as Junior Minister for Social Development and Sport with seriousness and energy. Nandi is ready to take the next step.”
Ms Outerbridge said she had three main issues on her agenda: developing the Salvation Army, tackling age discrimination and child maintenance.
She said: “I am looking to further the development of the Salvation Army: that is a big one on the list. Also there has been some consultation done already as it pertains to age discrimination so I intend to have further consultation to find out what our options are with regards to that.
“One of the things that is very close to me is starting a Cabinet committee which will seek to explore what options we have for child maintenance as it pertains to delinquent parents.
“We have quite a lot of parents who are financially burdened with taking care of their children on their own. It is not an initiative that will throw the hammer down at delinquent parents but to work with them to find the best solution ultimately for the child.”
Asked how she felt to be moving up the political ranks, she added: “I am pretty excited by it. I have enjoyed working as the junior minister for this ministry for some time., so I am ready for the next step.”
Speaking on the appointment of Mr Richards, Mr Dunkley said he “remains a strong presence at the Cabinet table, using his experience in international business and his community awareness to progress public concerns and needs”. Mr Richards said that one issue on his agenda was to review illegal dog breed legislation, saying he will “bring some changes”.
Ms Scott expressed her gratitude to the Premier, admitting that her opinions had “not always coincided with that of the Government or of the party”, but said she would do her best to “get the party where it needed to be”.