18 Oct. 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
Following the COVID-19 shutdown and countrywide experiment in virtual learning, the number of registered homeschoolers in Cayman increased by 33%, and is at the highest since at least 2017/18. An administrator of a local homeschoolers’ Facebook group said there’s been a jump in interest, which she attributed to COVID. (Read our story here.)
The priest in charge of St. Ignatius Catholic Church and School sent a letter to parents this week, discussing the topic of recent staff resignations, including the Head of School. The letter from Parish Administrator Naveen D’Souza doesn’t mention other concerns raised publicly by parents and the school board, mainly involving governance, transparency and communications, but he does sign off by saying he will address “other concerns surrounding the School” in the near future. (Read our story, and the letter, here.)
Farewells are in order for Peter Carpenter, Director of the Office of Education Standards, who is leaving his post at the end of the year. (Read the government’s announcement of his departure.) Carpenter, who heads up Cayman’s school inspection team, was the first local education leader to sit down for an interview with the Current. (Find the interview here and here.)
The nonprofit organisation LIFE ( ‘Literacy Is For Everyone’) has a new Executive Director, Juliet Austin, who has been on the job since 1 Oct. Austin is a career educator and most recently served as Education Manager of the National Trust of the Cayman Islands. She met with us to discuss the organisation and its future direction.
- In addition to Austin, LIFE also recently hired new staff member Erica Dell’Oglio as Volunteers & Programmes Coordinator.
- LIFE’s main programmes include paired reading, book donations, literacy education workshops, and other initiatives.
- Continuing COVID restrictions have given LIFE the chance to re-evaluate its programmes and work on a new strategic plan.
- Austin’s main goals are to deepen LIFE’s relationships with supporters and nonprofit partners, to expand LIFE’s reach beyond primary schoolchildren, and to heighten LIFE’s public profile so it as seen as the go-to resource for education and literacy.
Some highlights from the interview:
- Students returned from the COVID shutdown exhibiting noticeably better behaviour, which Read attributes to students and parents taking ownership of their learning.
- Computer teacher Rachel Klein went above and beyond, creating a one-stop online resource for ICT education in primary schools.
- “The fact is that the teachers are part of that growing up, and part of that family for those children. We’re not separated. We’re absolutely part of it.”
- Class size, and the ratio of teachers to students, is a continuing challenge for the school.
- Read hopes to build more relationships to bring in more volunteers to the school, particularly to assist with students who are practising their reading.
- The International Baccalaureate sets Prospect apart, including faculty planning sessions, the focus on putting learning into real-word contexts, and teaching children “to learn” rather than just teaching them “content”.
- “My phone number and my email are at the bottom of every single letter we send out. As a parent, you can come in and you can talk to the head teacher.”
Some press releases we published this week:
- UCCI’s Nursing Programme Celebrates Seven Years of Success
- Education Minister urges Layman Scott High School Graduates to Rise above the Ashes
- Clifton Hunter High School Graduates Place ‘Top Ten’ in The Region
- Inmates Reskill at HMCIPS
- UCCI’s Professional Development Centre courses tailored to Cayman’s business people needs
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.)
- The Guardian (UK): UK universities accused of keeping students at all costs until after fee deadline
- Miami Herald ($): Miami-Dade schools have seen almost 60 virus cases as nine more are reported
- Miami Herald ($): How are Florida’s high school seniors going to go to college if they can’t take SAT?
- Cayman Compass ($): ICCI celebrates 50th anniversary
- Cayman Compass ($): Record numbers sign up for Boyz 2 Men mentorship programme
The Week Ahead
- Details of a government land purchase to enable the expansion of UCCI
- Highlights from recent secondary school graduation ceremonies
- Viewpoint on school segregation’s impact on Caymanian culture