17 Jan. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Assessing disparities in education between Caymanians and non-Caymanians. Examining the range of student-teacher ratios in Cayman Islands schools. Government announces 14 young Caymanians as ‘Proud of Them’ honourees for 2021. And more!
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
We continued building on the Cayman Current’s Schools Explorer project. This week, we looked at students’ immigration status and school performance, and then examined student-teacher ratios in the school system.
Using data from the Office of Education Standards, we analysed the percentage of Caymanian and non-Caymanian students in local schools, and disparities in overall school performance.
It’s no secret — in fact, it’s long-standing government policy — that Caymanian students are given priority over non-Caymanians to attend free public schools. It’s also accepted that private schools generally outperform those public schools.
However, to our knowledge, we are the first to publish an analysis of the quality of schools being attended by Caymanians and non-Caymanians (and by extension, the quality of education they are receiving).
In essence, Caymanian students tend to attend worse-performing schools with a greater concentration of Caymanians, whereas non-Caymanian students tend to attend better-performing schools with a greater concentration of non-Caymanians.
The only public school rated ‘Good’ by Office of Education Standards inspectors (meaning it meets government’s expected standards) is Lighthouse School, a specialised school serving students with moderate to profound special education needs.
Here are highlights of our analysis:
- Excluding Early Childhood Care & Education Centres, 9,382 students attend primary or secondary schools.
- Public school enrolment is composed of about 90% Caymanian students, while private school enrolment is about 50% Caymanian.
- The overall school system is about 70% Caymanian.
- About two-thirds of Caymanian students attend public schools, while nearly 80% of non-Caymanians attend private schools.
- More than 95% of Caymanian students attend schools that are ‘majority Caymanian’ — i.e. where more than 50% of enrolment is Caymanian.
- Fewer than 70% of non-Caymanian students attend ‘majority Caymanian’ schools.
- More than 80% of Caymanian students attend schools that do not meet national standards.
- About 50% of non-Caymanian students attend schools that do not meet national standards.
The final bullet points are arguably the most important. More than 4-in-5 Caymanians attend schools rated ‘Weak’ or ‘Satisfactory’ — for non-Caymanians, that number is 1-in-2.
There’s one statistic we didn’t include in the story because it requires a little more explanation, but we think it’s telling, in terms of what kind of ‘cultural/community’ experience Caymanians students are getting in schools, compared to non-Caymanians. We’ll go over it here.
The overall school system is about 70% Caymanian. You can separate the system into schools whose student populations are greater than 70% Caymanian, and ones that are less than 70% Caymanian — i.e. schools that are ‘more Caymanian’ than average, and ones that are ‘less Caymanian’ than average.
About 80% of Caymanian students attend schools that are ‘more Caymanian’ than average. On the other hand, about 80% of non-Caymanian students attend schools that are ‘less Caymanian’ than average.
In other words, both Caymanian and non-Caymanian students attend schools that are not representative of the general population — and that skew in the direction of the student’s own immigration status. Caymanians tend to attend school surrounded by other Caymanians. Non-Caymanians tend to attend schools with other non-Caymanians.
For the record, in 2014 the Human Rights Commission stated that the public school system was 90% Caymanian. That hasn’t changed in the past 7 years.
One of the metrics that is discussed often in education circles (although its impact on student outcomes is unclear) is student-teacher ratios — i.e. how many students does a school have for every one teacher.
Again using OES data, we created a pair of graphics containing the student-teacher ratios for all 53 schools in Cayman.
Here are the highlights:
- Setting aside the smallest schools, student-teacher ratios at primary and secondary schools range from 6:1 (Grace Christian Academy) to 22:1 (Prospect Primary School).
- The average student-teacher ratio for all primary and secondary schools is 10:1.
- Of the 7 schools with the highest student-teacher ratios, 6 are government primary schools in Grand Cayman.
- Cayman Brac’s primary and secondary schools have lower student-teacher ratios (about 7:1) than Grand Cayman’s public schools, and the system-wide average.
- In both private and public schools, for every 2 teachers there is about 1 support staff member (i.e. assistant teacher).
- Overall, public schools have an average student-teacher ratio of 11:1, and at private schools it is 9:1.
- Schools that cater to students with special education needs tend to have greater numbers of teachers and support staff per student.
Editor’s Note: To date, we’ve published 5 stories on the first complete cycle of school inspections, as a foundation to our Schools Explorer project. (You can find our reporting on the topic here.) This week, we plan to wrap up the series of analyses, looking at tuition/per-student cost, and at the special education needs population. After that, we’ll begin aggregating the data (and other information) into a comprehensive guide. Thanks for your patience!
The government announced the new class of Proud of Them honourees. In all 14 young Caymanians are appearing on billboards throughout the country “for their extraordinary achievements in the areas of culture, academics, sports, business, and community service”.
This year’s honourees are: Cassiedy Davis Quintero, Chadene Brooks, Christon Ferguson, Danielle Seales, Elihandro Bodden, Jelani Hanson, Jaryed Myles, Joelyn Scott, Joshua O’Garro, Keya Berry, Leah Robinson, Moriah Praise Padua, Kianda Parchmont, and Kristina Powell.
More from the Current:
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 Life: Classroom of the Month: If you have passion for what you do, you can change lives.
- Cayman Compass ($): Bidders sought for construction of Bodden Town school hall
- The Guardian (UK): Lecturers warn they will strike if forced to resume ‘unsafe’ teaching
- The Guardian (UK): The free-market gamble: has Covid broken UK universities?
- Miami Herald ($): Broward teachers, staff ordered to return to their classrooms. Almost 100 retired instead
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Public Schools Reopen
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Rabain: no school closures in September
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Bus service to be cut after no deal with minibuses for school runs
- Stabroek News (Guyana) ($): Covid 19 crisis: Region heading for ‘staggering’ school dropout rate
- EyeWitness News (Bahamas): Kamalame Cay launches COCO Bahama Seaplanes; announces scholarships for young Bahamian pilots
The Week Ahead
- Schools Explorer: More analysis of school inspection results from the Office of Education Standards
- Non-profit profile: UWC Cayman Islands