20 Sept. 2020
Weekly Current (archived version)
Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring about education! Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education news in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
This week we continued our “An Interview With …” series, and published the first two parts of our conversation with Jonathan Clark, principal of John Gray High School, the largest school in the Cayman Islands.
Highlights from the interview:
- John Gray had already been integrating software such as Microsoft Teams and Everest. When the COVID-19 closures were announced in mid-March, school leaders accelerated those initiatives.
- Leaders came up with a 5-part plan to respond to COVID, beginning with ‘connectivity’ — ensuring that teachers were in contact with all of their students.
- “If I had one wish — and I did ask everybody I possibly could — the one wish that I need for the school is to have island-wide internet, free internet.”
- Stage Two, ‘no child left behind’: School staff attempted to arrange for internet access and electronic devices for every child in John Gray.
- Stage Three, ‘no teacher left behind’: The school focussed on getting teachers up to speed on virtual learning technology.
- Stage Four, ‘visible online learning’: The goal was set for teachers do deliver 50% of lessons live and online.
- Stage Five, ‘coming back better, stronger and smarter’: School leaders adopted technology and techniques used effectively during COVID and incorporated them into their regular processes.
- “In terms of staff professional development, we could have run courses for 3 years and we could have never got our staff to where they were within 3-4 weeks of this lockdown.”
- One of the biggest strengths at John Gray is in literacy, where standardised test results have exceeded UK and international averages for several years.
- “The biggest weakness at the moment is mathematics. That’s the thing that stops us from being a ‘good’ school. We’re a ‘satisfactory’ school at the moment.”
- John Gray offers ~65 extracurricular opportunities to students every year, including robotics and flight club, in addition to more traditional activities such as sports.
- “Once they’re attached to a club, they’re attached to the school. And you then get very few issues with their attitude, very few issues with their behaviour.”
More than 200 parents crowded into the main hall of St. Ignatius Catholic School last Monday evening for a Home School Association meeting, with the main topics of discussion being significant revisions to the school board, and the recently announced resignation of Head of School Emily Alexander. (Read more here.)
Dust off the four-leaf clovers and get the horseshoes out of storage, CXC exam results are due to be released on Tuesday afternoon, 22 Sept. Of course, best of luck to Cayman’s test takers. (See the details here.)
Finally, we received an email that made us smile — because it contained a copy of a certificate confirming the Cayman Current’s status as a Cayman Islands Non-Profit Organisation. You can find the Current listed on the NPO Register here. Also, please consider making a donation to the Current on our website. (Many thanks to our Founding Sponsor Broadhurst Law Firm for shepherding the paperwork through the company formation and NPO registration process!)
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Bahamas Tribune: Parents turn to pods as school solution
- The Virgin Islands Daily News: Schools put grades on hold; union warns VI is facing digital divide
- The Guardian (UK): UK home schooling numbers double in a week, amid Covid test shortages
- The Guardian (UK): England’s state schools suffering biggest fall in funding since 1980s, says IFS
- Bermuda Royal Gazette: First day back at school
- The BVI Beacon: Back to school, at home
- Jamaica Observer: Education ministry to provide support for parents
- Jamaica Gleaner: Demographic data and geoinformatics to drive school reopening
- Cayman Compass: Non-profit awards student scholarship for social work degree
The Week Ahead
Interview with Jonathan Clark — principal of John Gray High School, cont’d. Clark talks about the school’s approach to behaviour and discipline, tailoring education to high-performers and students with special needs, and progress on construction of the new John Gray campus.