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Assessors return poor marks for schools

Lesson focus: education minister Diallo Rabain (File photograph)

Experts highlighted poor practice in Bermuda’s schools and unchallenging assignments for pupils, the education minister told MPs yesterday.

Cambridge curriculum assessors conducted a review of public schools after Cambridge Checkpoint results showed island pupils were lagging behind their international peers.

Diallo Rabain told MPs: “A primary observation pointed out to the department was the missed opportunities for our students to engage in deeper learning in many of the classrooms.

“Some of the practices that we have been implementing have not been the best practices. We recognise this, and now we endeavour to improve the practices to do better.

“Thus the Cambridge representatives have put forward a number of recommendations regarding teaching and learning at the primary and middle school levels.”

The assessors recommended:

• An increased pace of learning;

• An increased quantity of work that pupils complete;

• More challenging assigned work;

• A greater focus on conceptual rather than procedural understanding;

• That teachers should do less and engage pupils more in talking, thinking and reflecting;

• Teachers should give pupils more challenging work;

• Teachers should scaffold less so that students build independent skills and

• Give pupils a bigger stake in their learning.

Mr Rabain said teachers had been advised to focus their lesson plans to improve fluency, reasoning and problem solving, particularly in maths.

The maths checkpoint, completed last April, found the Bermuda P6 national average score was 2.4, compared with the international average of 3.8. The Bermuda M3 average was 2.1 compared with 4.2 internationally. Results in English and science were also a cause for concern.

Cambridge International representatives Abigail Barnett and Alison Borthwick spent last week on the island observing teachers and providing intervention training for selected maths teachers at primary and middle schools.

They visited ten schools, and observed 500 pupils from P1 to M3 in their classrooms.

Mr Rabain said the Cambridge report was not all bad news.

He added: “It was pleasing to know that the first impression given to our Cambridge representatives as they reported, was that Bermuda has world-class public school students who are eager, intelligent, willing, keen, and who want to learn. “They shared that our teachers are hardworking and that there was clear evidence of the Cambridge curriculum being taught in classrooms.”

He said: “This professional development training for our teachers in mathematics was needed. We will endeavour to ensure that this type of training is ongoing as we move ahead.

“It is recognised that providing our teachers with constant professional development will help to enhance and build on the standard of teaching and learning in the classroom; and, ultimately improve the Cambridge score results for our students.”

Mr Rabain said the Department of Education expected to get a written report from the Cambridge representatives within three weeks.

He said a comprehensive delivery plan based on the report would be developed that included action steps, timelines and accountability measures for the improvement of mathematics tuition.

The department will report maths progress on a monthly basis.

To read Diallo Rabain’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”