28 Feb. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Calling all candidates to share their education platforms, update on government special education stats, non-profit profile of Big Brothers Big Sisters, new playfields for Cayman Brac schools, Wesleyan Christian inspection, Savannah Primary renamed after longtime educator, UCCI commencement speaker announced, and more!
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
(If you haven’t signed up for our email list yet, please consider doing so now.)
Week In Review
Tomorrow, 1 March is Nomination Day, signalling the official beginning of the 2021 political campaign ahead of the 14 April General Election.
Accordingly, for the next 6 weeks, readers should expect content in the Cayman Current to shift heavily toward coverage of education as an issue during the campaign. That means reporting on what candidates are saying and doing on the topic of education — but also, importantly, amplifying concerns and questions about the local education system from the citizenry (that’s you).
Cayman only has 1 General Election every 4 years, so now is the time for the community to come together and 1) Make education the #1 issue during the campaign, and 2) Ensure the next government makes education its #1 priority.
Now that we have entered ‘election mode’, the Current’s first move is to issue an invitation to all candidates to share their education platforms with us. It’s a simple proposal with no strings attached. We are offering space on our website to each candidate to lay out their ideas and proposals for education, in their own words, in an official manifesto, in a video, or through an interview with the Current. These candidate pages will form part of our election coverage, in addition to our proactive reporting.
We have published the invitation on the Current website, and we’ll be contacting individual candidates directly with the offer, all this week.
We think it is important to note that, if a candidate’s education platform does not appear on our website, it will not be because of a decision by the Current, but it will be because that candidate specifically chose not to share their stance on education with us.
(See the invitation to candidates here.)
Throughout the month of March and into April, the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce will continue its 30-plus-year tradition of hosting candidate forums. For the first time, the forums will be videoed, streamed live on the Chamber’s website and then posted to YouTube.
We’ll be watching the Chamber forums to keep track of candidates’ statements on education, and hopefully (fingers crossed) we’ll get the chance to pose a few questions of our own to candidates.
Here’s a schedule of the forums:
8 March – East End • 9 March – North Side • 10 March – Prospect • 11 March – Savannah • 12 March – Newlands • 15 March – Red Bay • 16 March – Bodden Town East • 17 March – Bodden Town West • 18 March – Cayman Brac East • 19 March – Cayman Brac West & Little Cayman • 22 March – West Bay Central • 23 March – West Bay North • 24 March – West Bay West • 25 March – West Bay South • 26 March – George Town North • 29 March – George Town Central • 30 March – George Town South • 31 March – George Town West • 6 April – George Town East
(Visit the Chamber’s website to see the announcement from President Mike Gibbs, or to see a calendar of the forums.)
More than 10% of public school students were classified as having a verified Special Education Need or Disability (SEN), requiring intervention using resources from beyond their individual school.
Additionally, during January 2021, the government paid private contractors more than $110,000 to assist SEN students.
We received those and other updated information on SEN students and spending from the Department of Education Services in response to a Freedom of Information request we filed.
**Editor’s Note: We are awaiting further clarification on a couple of other FOI requests we submitted. When we receive that information, we plan to publish stories on student exclusions and teacher exit interview.**
This week we published a profile on nonprofit mentoring organisation Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cayman Islands. The charity matches adults (Bigs) with children (Littles) in mentoring relationships that include weekly visits.
The organisation has launched a ‘Think BIG’ campaign to triple the number of children it serves, to 100, by the end of the year. As part of that initiative, they have brought on new staff — including new Executive Director Angela Martins and Erin Kaufman nee Hislop — and on Saturday, 6 March, are hosting a Youth Mentoring Forum.
On Saturday, 27 February, Cayman Brac’s Creek & Spot Bay Primary Schools celebrated the official opening of their new playing fields, during a ceremony attended by Sister Islands representatives Moses Kirkconnell and Juliana O’Connor-Connolly. The project was put out to tender back in June 2020, and is part of a series of school playing field projects the government has been pursuing the past few years.
Wesleyan Christian Academy continued to make overall ‘Weak’ progress on addressing recommendations from government inspectors. The West Bay private school was rated ‘Weak’ in May 2019, and since that time has made ‘Satisfactory’ progress on 2 of 5 key recommendations, and ‘Weak’ progress on the others.
Savannah Primary school is now ‘Joanna Clarke Primary School’. The school was renamed 23 Feb. in honour of veteran educator whose nearly 50 years of experience included 16 years as principal of Savannah Primary.
The keynote speaker at UCCI’s commencement ceremony will be Canadian tech pioneer Tom Jenkins. The board chairman and former CEO of OpenText Corp has lived in Cayman since 2017. He’ll make his address during UCCI’s new spring graduation ceremony on 24 April.
More from the Current:
- For the 3rd year in a row, UCCI won the Atlantic islands region championships of the CFA Research Challenge.
- CCMI founder Carrie Manfrino has joined the UCCI faculty as a visiting scholar and research professor.
- Tarpon Academy won John Gray High School’s 2021 Sports Day.
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.)
- Camana Bay Times: Cayman International School: A school that fosters 21st-century skills
- Caymanian Times: John Gray High School Sports Day
- The Guardian (UK): EDITORIAL | The Observer view on basing pupils’ results on teacher assessment
- US Virgin Islands Daily News: Schools on St. Croix set to reopen March 2
- Jamaica Observer: Praise for high-achieving student nurses, midwives
- Jamaica Gleaner: Finally, a school for black children
The Week Ahead
- Ministry officials tour New John Gray High School construction project
- FOI responses: student exclusions, teacher exit interviews
- Chamber of Commerce Careers Expo 5 March
- BBBS Youth Forum 6 March
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