20 Dec. 2020
Weekly Current (archived version)
‘Weak’ leadership brings St. Ignatius rating down to ‘Satisfactory’. Four other school inspection reports published. Second half of interview with Cayman’s only ‘Excellent’ school. Donation honours memory of former Educational Psychologist. And more news!
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education news in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
The Office of Education Standards published the final batch of 5 school reports from the first cycle of inspections, which began in 2018 and involved the assessment of 53 government and private schools across the Cayman Islands.
School inspectors assign ratings of ‘Weak’, ‘Satisfactory’, ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ in 18 areas for each school. Those individual grades determine the school’s overall rating. It’s not merely a matter of ‘averaging’ the individual grades — 1 or 2 particularly low individual grades can negatively impact the overall rating.
Case in point: St. Ignatius Catholic School earned ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ marks in 15 of 18 areas, but a pair of ‘Weak’ grades for ‘leadership’ and ‘self-evaluation and improvement planning’ brought the private school’s overall rating down to ‘Satisfactory’, which is the minimum level of quality required for Cayman schools.
The ‘Weak’ grades in those important areas also mean that inspectors will be visiting St. Ignatius again in about 6 months to follow up on those issues.
The ‘Weak’ ratings arrive in the wake of parental concerns raised publicly about that departure of the Head of School, and the replacement of the School Advisory Board with a School Advisory Committee that has a more-limited remit. Inspectors discuss those items in their report. (If you’ve been reading the Current, then you should be familiar with the subject.)
The blemishes with leadership and governance aside, St. Ignatius’ report was overwhelmingly positive, on the primary side of the school (which received mostly ‘Good’ ratings) and the secondary side (which received mostly ‘Excellent’ ratings). Inspectors gave out ‘Good’ and ‘Excellent’ marks in areas including student achievement, student progress, teaching, learning, etc.
Meanwhile, Hope Academy in Grand Harbour earned an overall ‘Good’ rating, with ‘Excellent’ marks given for support and guidance of students.
The inspection report for Hope Academy stands out because 84% of the private school’s 106 students have been identified as having special education needs. The school also received a ‘Good’ rating during its last full inspection in 2013.
A brand-new primary school called Footsteps, located on Eastern Avenue in George Town, also achieved a ‘Good’ rating. The small private school opened in September (after being a tutoring centre for several years) so obviously this was its first inspection.
Footsteps received ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ ratings in nearly all areas of assessment.
Cayman Learning Centre, an even smaller private school which has 10 students in Years 5-9, received a ‘Weak’ rating from inspectors “because there were a number of key quality indicators that were found to be weak”.
Cayman Learning Centre has a larger afterschool programme and has been registered as a full-time school since August 2019. All 10 of the full-time students have been identified as having special education needs.
And Theoline McCoy Primary School in Bodden Town received an overall rating of ‘Satisfactory’. The government school did receive ‘Good’ marks in some areas, but students’ performance in English, Mathematics and Science was determined to be ‘Weak’. (This is similar to inspectors’ findings for John A Cumber and George Town Primary Schools.)
The ‘Satisfactory’ rating is an improvement over the ‘Unsatisfactory’ rating the school received during its last full inspection in December 2014.
Editor’s Note: At the end of this newsletter there’s an announcement that we’ll take some time off during the Winter Holiday. However, we’ll be using a good chunk of that to start building what we think will be a very cool, and useful, guide to Cayman’s schools. A foundational component of that project is the results from the 53 school inspections. … Stay tuned …
This week we published the second half of our interview with Josie Doran and Lesley Maddock of Little Trotters Farm and Nursery School, which is the only school in Cayman to achieve an overall rating of ‘Excellent’ from inspectors. (We published the first part the week before.)
In the second half of this interview, Doran (the principal) and Maddock (school manager) discuss the strengths of the school, their initiative to help train teachers from other preschools, and challenges facing Little Trotters.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
- “I genuinely feel the students are well-ready for school when they leave here. I think they’ve had opportunities to develop confidence, to learn about the world around them, in a safe and loving environment.”
- “One thing that I’ve heard is that you can always tell a Trotters child because they’ve got resilience.”
- Chief school inspector Peter Carpenter has said he was impressed by an ongoing initiative at Little Trotters to help train teachers from other preschools. That spirit of community collaboration has been incorporated into the second cycle of inspections set to begin January 2021.
- “I think those are just Christian values, or core kindness values. That’s what that is. It’s one’s role in society to help out where one can serve, so from the perspective of early education, it becomes an honour to do so. It really has been a joy.”
- “One of the aspects that I think was very positive about the inspections that have gone on, is it’s had a very unifying effect on all the individual schools coming together with a more unified responsibility, with a greater sense of cohesion.”
More from the Current:
- The family of former educational psychologist Monty Larrew has donated $3,000 to Literacy is for Everyone (LIFE) in honor of Monty’s memory and his life’s work to benefit the children of Cayman. The donation will create the Monty Larrew Resource Library for special education needs in government schools.
- The Department of Education Services hosted teacher workshops to prepare for the annual National Children’s Festival of the Arts.
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Cayman News Service: School PE teacher hit by car is in critical condition
- Cayman Compass ($): ‘Coach Greg’ in critical condition after being struck by car
- Cayman Compass ($): Shetty aiming to build Cayman medical school
- Cayman News Service: CI$750,000 found to fund sports, including CIFA
- Cayman Compass ($): George Town Primary maintains ‘satisfactory’ rating
- Camana Bay Times: A gift for the future
- Miami Herald ($): As students head into winter break, COVID numbers rising in Miami, Broward, Keys schools
- The Guardian (UK): The pandemic is a chance to rethink education, not settle for online lectures
- Miami Herald ($): As need grows, Miami schools distribute meals over winter break for first time
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): School launches probe into potential historic sex abuse
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): Traditional enrollment down 22 percent at BTVI, says president
- Jamaica Observer: USAID donates to Flanker Primary, community amid coronavirus pandemic
- Jamaica Observer: Former JTA president supports reopening of schools
- The Guardian (UK): Huge gaps in classroom time for pupils across England, figures show
The Week Ahead
- An interview with Marius Gaina, Executive Director, Cayman Arts Festival
- A look at newly rebranded nonprofit Inclusion Cayman (formerly Special Needs Foundation Cayman)
Editor’s Note: Due to the Christmas holiday, we will not publish the Weekly Current on 27 Dec. We will continue to update the Cayman Current website and social media feeds with news and stories during that time. The newsletter will resume Sunday, 3 Jan. 2021.