10 Jan. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Comparing inspection results for Cayman Islands preschools. UCCI launches bid to achieve US ‘gold standard’ in accreditation. Dart completes US$60 million CIS expansion project. Inclusion Cayman starts strong in 2021. Covid-19 affects GCSEs in UK, but not in Cayman, for now. And more!
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
This week, we laid another block to the foundation of the Cayman Current’s Schools Explorer project. We created a pair of infographics comparing Office of Education Standards inspection results for Cayman’s preschools — in addition to the graphics we built earlier for primary schools and high schools.
We had to split the 30 preschools in 2 different groups, to account for differences in assessment strategies by OES.
Inspectors rated 23 Early Childhood Care and Education Centres (ECCEs) in 28 individual categories, using a scale of Weak/Satisfactory/Good/Excellent. The overall grade is determined according to the individual scores.
Inspectors also rated 7 other schools that offer Early Years education (pre-Kindergarten) in 18 individual categories, plus the overall grade, paralleling their assessment of Primary and Secondary education.
Here are highlights from the preschool results:
- Of the 30 preschools, all are private owned or not-for-profit, except for the public Cayman Brac Day Care Centre.
- Only 1 preschool was rated ‘Excellent’ overall — Little Trotters Farm & Nursery School. Little Trotters was the only school in the Cayman Islands, private or public, for children of any age, to earn the highest ‘Excellent’ rating. (Read our interview with Little Trotters leaders here.)
- Eight schools were rated ‘Good’ — CIS, Cayman Prep, Island Montessori, Montessori by the Sea, Montessori del Sol, Montessori School of Cayman, Sprogs Garden Play School and Starfish Village.
- Eight schools were rated ‘Weak’ — Bright Start Learning Centre, Miss Nadine’s Preschool, Precious Gems, Quality Child Care, Rite Start, Tiffany’s Pre-school, Triple C School and Wesleyan Christian Academy.
- Little Trotters set the bar by achieving 17 ‘Excellent’ marks out of the 28 categories.
- However, Montessori del Sol (‘Good’ overall) also achieved 17 ‘Excellent’ marks, some in different categories than Little Trotters.
(View the graphics on preschools here. Sort it by category. Compare schools. Follow links on the chart to read the individual inspection reports.)
As a commenter on the Current’s Facebook page pointed out, these graphics only include the results of the initial full inspections carried out by OES from 2018 to 2020. They don’t include the results of ‘follow-through inspections’, where inspectors visit schools again to assess their progress on recommendations from the initial inspections.
The follow-through inspections don’t adhere to the same categorical framework as the initial inspections. (If we could have put them all in a single, comparable graphic, we would have!)
As we continue to build out the Schools Explorer project, the results of follow-through inspections will be included in entries for individual schools. We will also incorporate information from the upcoming 2nd cycle of school inspections, as those inspections are carried out.
Our vision is for the Schools Explorer to be a comprehensive guide to Cayman Islands schools, including basic information, standardised profiles, performance data, relevant news articles, etc.
We hope the Schools Explorer will become a major portal for the community to access information about Cayman’s education system and individual schools — in addition to and in support of the Current’s daily reporting.
Outside of the Current, Cayman News Service published a story on an OES analysis of the first cycle of inspections, noting that 75% of students (including 80% of Caymanian students) attend schools that are below the expected standard.
We’ll be publishing our own analyses of the data, starting this week, but here we will make the distinction that a ‘Good’ school is one that meets the ‘expected standard’ whereas a ‘Satisfactory’ school is one that meets the ‘minimum standard’ required by law.
So, to add context to the figure that 75% of students attend schools below the ‘expected standard’:
- ~27% of students attend ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ schools.
- ~51% of students attend ‘Satisfactory’ schools.
- ~22% of students attend ‘Weak’ schools (including ~26% of Caymanian students)
More on this, and other nuggets of information, to come starting this week.
On Monday, the University College of the Cayman Islands took a small step that they hope leads to a giant leap in prestige and credibility. UCCI officially launched a multi-year effort to earn accreditation from the US Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
For those not familiar with US higher education, it is difficult to overstate the fundamental importance of any college or university worth its salt having accreditation from SACS or one of its 5 equivalent regional accreditation bodies.
Suffice to say, SACS represents the ‘gold standard’ in university accreditation in the US.
Its 791 member institutions include flagship research universities such as University of Florida, Florida State University, Florida International University, Texas A&M University, and The University of Texas at Austin — as well as many other smaller schools, including international institutions.
The objectives behind earning SACS accreditation are to increase the real and perceived value of UCCI degrees, to make it easier for UCCI students to transfer to other schools,, to open up research opportunities for UCCI faculty, etc.
UCCI President and CEO Stacy McAfee said, “It’s time. Over 46 years, much has been accomplished already, but this is setting the standard that will give people a real sense of confidence in that, not only are we pushing ourselves to get there, but we are externally validated. Anyone that asks can see that UCCI is in fact achieving the standards that we want here.”
UCCI Interim Provost and Vice President J.D. Mosley-Matchett said, “Accreditation by SACS will once and for all dispel any doubt about the quality of education at UCCI. The result will elevate UCCI’s profile, both locally and globally.”
How does the saying go: ‘New year, new you” … And over at CIS, it’s also ‘new school’. At the beginning of the term, 160 students got to begin classes at the brand-new high school facility, which caps off a US$60 million expansion project by Dart. (In total, Dart has invested more than US$120 million in the CIS campus, which can now accommodate 1,100 students. Right now CIS enrolment is 820 students.)
Inclusion Cayman, formerly Special Needs Foundation Cayman, entered 2021 with a new name and a new look, but with a re-commitment to its mission of defending the rights and interests of people with disabilities.
In regard to education, “Inclusion Cayman offers schools support to build capacity for mainstream schools to become more inclusive of individuals with disabilities so that segregated education is not the only option,” said CEO Susie Bodden.
On the good news front, the charity has a major benefit event lined up for 12 Feb., featuring international rock icon Iggy Pop and performances from local bands. The better news is that general admission tickets sold out almost immediately. Congrats!
More from the Current:
- Test provider: England’s GCSE cancellations don’t affect Cayman’s 2021 exams
- Application deadline for Overseas Scholarships approaching
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Caymanian Times: UCCI takes first step to SACS accreditation
- Loop Cayman: CIS new high school building opens to students tomorrow
- Cayman News Service: Poor leaders undermine school’s achievements
- Cayman Compass ($): School inspectors flag poor governance at St. Ignatius
- Cayman Compass ($): Latest school inspection reports released
- Jamaica Gleaner: Editorial | No dumbing down of CSEC, CAPE
- The Guardian (UK): Editorial | Our children are at risk of becoming the worst-hit victims of Covid
- Miami Herald ($): Broward school district says all teachers must return to the classroom. They’re suing.
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Remote learning in schools ends on Wednesday
- BVI Beacon: More students head back to class in person
- The Guardian (UK): Primary schools in England still ‘rammed’ with pupils, say heads
- The Guardian (UK): GCSE, A-level and Sats exams to be scrapped in England this year
- The Virgin Islands Daily News: Public schools to resume virtual learning Thursday, hybrid model on Jan. 25 for certain grades
- EyeWitness News (Bahamas): Lloyd: National examinations a “success”
The Week Ahead
- Schools Explorer: More analysis of school inspection results from the Office of Education Standards