7 March 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Political candidates share their education platforms, tour of the new John Gray High School construction site (with photos), new Principal named at St. Ignatius Catholic School, Chamber of Commerce hosts annual Careers Expo, applications open for student funding, and more!
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
We sent out the invitations, and they RSVPed ‘Yes’.
The first candidates to respond to the Cayman Current’s request to share their education platforms are Chris Saunders (Bodden Town West), Wayne Panton (Newlands), Michael Myles (Prospect) and Alric Lindsay (George Town South).
Here are the highlights:
Chris Saunders, Bodden Town West
- “The purpose of education wasn’t to make you employable; the purpose of education was to make you trainable. Being trainable is what makes you employable.”
- Saunders calls his education policy “creating a pathway to lifelong learning”.
- “Our current learning model is wrong.”
- “We need our teachers to be the educators that they are. This means entrusting them and empowering them to do their jobs.”
- “We need less government in our education system.”
- “We also need less businesses in our educational system, dictating the skills that they need to operate their businesses. The purpose of education is not to create a workforce but to create thinkers.”
- “We need more parents involved in our education system.”
- “We need to remove the age limit for scholarships so that all Caymanians can go back to school when time permits, and this is why the next government must make UCCI free and available to all Caymanians regardless of their age.”
- “And if a Caymanian wants to go back and complete their high school studies, there’s no reason why we can’t have night classes at high school facilities to facilitate that.”
Wayne Panton, Newlands
- “Government has put so much money into education, yet we are still failing to achieve satisfactory student attainment levels, which is really frustrating.”
- “We need to view education as a priority for ourselves, our children and for the future generation, and work together to increase the quality of learning that our public schools are providing.”
- “Teachers need more support overall and should be performance-managed, meaning that those who are achieving good results should be appropriately rewarded, and this will hopefully motivate other educators to up their game, which will in turn improve outcomes across the board.”
Michael Myles, Prospect
- “Improve recruitment, retention, and deployment of high-quality teaching staff.”
- “Full Scholarships for Teachers and reinstate paid Teacher’s Aide positions.”
- “Staff Primary Schools with high-quality teachers ALL with a master’s degree in specialized areas of training.”
- “Provide a ‘wrap around therapeutic approach’ to assist children to attain these outcomes by establishing a Therapeutic Centre at ALL Schools.”
- “Eliminate the level 1 diploma from the education system … Replace this with internationally accredited vocational and apprenticeship training.”
- “Link our education vision/system and priorities to the demands of the economy.”
- “Improved and increased support $ (preferential scholarships, etc.) for fields of study in Education, Social Work, Counsellors, Therapists, Psychologists, TVET, etc.”
- “Implement a national strategy for technical and vocational education and training (TVET).”
- “We need a National Development Agency, under the Ministry of Education and/or Labour to drive this Policy.”
Alric Lindsay, George Town South
- “One of the other things we need to think about going forward is human capital. This includes education, our approach to education, and our need to retrain and retool our people so that they have options to enter different industries. This needs to happen now, not when we reopen.”
- “Every year of input for a child should equal 1 year progress for a child. Successive policymakers have not focussed on this point. They have to focus on the effectiveness of learning or the effectiveness on learning.”
- “Instead, they focus on … ‘the politics of distraction’. So they say, we need to change the curriculum. We need to build a $100 million building in Frank Sound. We need to do a $160 million expansion at John Gray. But what they don’t realise is that the building alone, the curriculum alone does not impact greatly the effectiveness on learning.”
- “We must move away from these political distractions.”
- “No teacher should be in an environment where they feel afraid or they feel there are going to be repercussions for what they say.”
- “We need to focus on recruiting the best teachers, and doing this recruitment far in advance of the school year.”
- “We need to reward teachers based on their expertise.”
- “Part of our education scholarship should go to vocational courses as well. I personally believe that we need to have 2 different high school diplomas, 1 which is focussed on this traditional banker, lawyer accountant; and the other which is focused on vocational skills.”
Final words on the political front: The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce begins its series of candidate forums this week. The forums will be streamed live on the Chamber’s website and via other media, and also posted to YouTube.
Here’s this week’s schedule:
- 8 March – East End
- 9 March – North Side
- 10 March – Prospect
- 11 March – Savannah
- 12 March – Newlands
(Visit the Chamber’s website to see a calendar of the forums.)
Want to know what a $170 million school construction project looks like? Project contractor McAlpine Ltd. hosted a site inspection tour of the new John Gray High School, with a delegation of Ministry of Education officials, including Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.
O’Connor-Connolly says that despite COVID-19 slowdowns, the new high school will have a ‘phased opening’ this September 2021, and will be fully open in September 2022.
St. Ignatius Catholic School has a new Principal. Veteran British educator Martin Nugent has gotten the nod to fill the leadership position that has been vacant since the previous Head of School resigned last fall. The new Principal is set to arrive in Cayman in mid-March.
Readers may recall that the private school was dinged for ‘Weak’ leadership and governance by government inspectors, who assessed St. Ignatius as ‘Satisfactory’ overall in December, despite the school receiving ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ marks in almost all other areas.
The annual Chamber of Commerce Careers Expo took place Friday at UCCI. Local employers manned booths designed to draw students’ interest and share information about the opportunities available in their sectors, and the skills that would be required to take advantage of those opportunities.
Chamber President Mike Gibbs said, “We must ensure that as many residents as possible who can contribute to our businesses and organisations are engaged in meaningful work and can succeed and move up into positions of management and business ownership. It is our responsibility to ensure that the next generation inherits a society that is as successful or better than our own.”
More from the Current:
- The application period is open until 30 April for government’s local scholarship programme.
- The Ministry of Education is now taking applications to assist parents of Caymanian children with payment of fees for preschools.
- The National Children’s Festival of the Arts took place last week.
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: Nothing but the Best at Clifton Hunter sports day
- Cayman Compass: Students struggle with suicidal thoughts, self-harm
- Cayman Compass: School teams debate gender equality
- Trinidad and Tobago Newsday: UWI to offer US$60m bond to fund offshore medical school in Trinidad
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Signature schools legislation tabled in House of Assembly
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): School minibus service to cost $1.3m this year
- Jamaica Observer: The Cuban teachers who put their all into educating Jamaica’s young
The Week Ahead
- Candidates’ education platforms
- Chamber of Commerce candidate forums
- FOI responses: student exclusions, teacher exit interviews
- Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Forum