As of December 2020, more than 10% of Cayman Islands public school students were classified as having a verified Special Education Need or Disability (SEN), requiring intervention using resources from beyond their individual school.
In the month of January 2021, the government paid private contractors more than $110,000 to assist SEN students.
The updated information on SEN students and spending was provided to the Cayman Current by the Department of Education Services in response to a Freedom of Information request.
According to DES, “The total monthly cost for the most recent period, the month of January 2021 (1 month), for (private) contractors hired to provide for SEN students was $111,130.56. This is based on academic year billing.”
Cayman’s public schools evaluate students for SEN and proceed along 3 phases. In the first 2 phases, the students receive additional support from within the school, are monitored at the school level and are not ‘officially’ regarded as having SEN.
In Phase 3, students have an individual education plan, have a verified education disability, receive support from outside their school, and are monitored on an official SEN Register maintained by DES.
Apart from the specialised Lighthouse School, whose 121 students (ages 5-17) all have significant needs or disabilities, Cayman’s Phase 3 SEN students are concentrated in secondary schools.
The percentage of Phase 3 SEN students in other public primary schools ranges from 3% to 9%.
In the UK and US, the proportion of students receiving outside intervention for SEN is about 3%-6%.
|School||Phase 3 Students||Total Enrollment||% Phase 3 Students|
|Bodden Town Primary||22||270||8.15%|
|Clifton Hunter High||72||776||9.28%|
|Cayman Islands Further Education Centre||33||216||15.28%|
|East End Primary||7||79||8.86%|
|Edna Moyle Primary||3||99||3.03%|
|George Town Primary||15||282||5.32%|
|John A Cumber Primary||29||495||5.86%|
|John Gray High||147||1099||13.38%|
|Little Cayman Education Services||0||3||0%|
|Layman Scott High||14||152||9.21%|
|Red Bay Primary||12||437||2.75%|
|West End Primary||2||66||3.03%|
In late January, the Current published a story on the SEN student population in Cayman schools, noting that analysis is made difficult by a number of factors, including gaps in the data reported by private schools, which are not subject to the same regulations as public schools.
The Current submitted an FOI request asking for more details and updated information from the government’s 2019 SEN Audit.
In its response, DES confirmed that the government is still guided by the 2011 SEN Code of Practice, which according to its cover page was due to be reviewed in 2014.
Additionally, DES stated that a planned 2020 SEN audit was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic: “Our 2020 audit was impacted by COVID and the 2021 audit has just commenced with a timeline of completion for July 2021.”
The 2019 SEN Audit did not contain information on private schools, but stated “the Ministry is seeking to address this as a matter of urgency”.
In its recent FOI response, DES said information on SEN students in private schools “cannot be provided”.
The 2019 SEN Audit found that about $4 million total was spent on SEN in 2018, including on government staff.
Assuming a 10-month school year, the $110,000 spent on private SEN contractors in January would translate to an annual cost of about $1 million.
**Editor’s Note: A DES spokesperson said she would provide more information on SEN staff by Monday, 22 Feb. We will update our reporting when that information is received.**