Progressives Manifesto: Complete new John Gray, create ‘skills strategy’, every public school to be rated ‘Good’

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The Progressives and their allies are prioritising 3 goals related to education in their shared manifesto for the 2021 election: Complete the new John Gray High School, create a “skills strategy” to “match future skills to future jobs”, and have every public school rated ‘Good’ or better.

Other pledges include increasing investment in UCCI, implementing a new strategy for early years education, rolling out a school boards project, improving primary school facilities and completing a new high school on the Cayman Brac Bluff.

The 2021 Manifesto for the Progressives and ‘The Alliance’ was published online last weekend. According to the introduction by new Progressives leader Roy McTaggart, “The Manifesto sets out our shared Vision for Cayman — the Progressives and our Alliance partners’ vision. It is a concrete programme of action that you can be confident the next Government will deliver.”

The Progressives candidates include:

The independent members of the Alliance are:

The new John Gray High School project has an estimated cost of $170 million and includes the construction of the new John Gray, the renovation of the existing John Gray building and conversion into CIFEC, the demolition of the old CIFEC building, and the creation of new playing fields.

The new John Gray gymnasium was completed in 2017. In regard to actual classrooms, the first phase of the new John Gray is scheduled to be finished in time to admit students in fall 2021.

(Read our story about the comparative costs of the new John Gray, Clifton Hunter High School, Cayman International School and high schools overseas.)

The ‘skills strategy’ component of the Manifesto includes:

  • A new right to education, training or apprenticeships for every 16 to 19-year-old.
  • Investment in education to strengthen UCCI’s programmes.
  • Teach entrepreneurship and business skills in schools, encouraging students to consider a wide range of career possibilities.
  • A new approach to life-long learning to reskill and upskill the current workforce to global standards.

According to the Manifesto, “Every child to be taught in a public school rated ‘good’ or ‘better’ by the schools inspector reports by the end of this 4-year term.”

Currently, the specialised Lighthouse School is the only public school to achieve a ‘Good’ rating in the first cycle of school inspections, which ended in December 2020.

(Visit our Schools Explorer homepage to find inspection results for every private and public school in Cayman, and to find our story series analysing the results of the inspections.)

The Manifesto includes plans to “Roll out new school governance arrangements (introduce governing bodies with their own delegated responsibilities to all Cayman’s schools).”

The school boards project was announced by Premier McLaughlin in a candidates forum in mid-March, and has since been referred to by Hew and Conolly.

Other plans for Grand Cayman include new before- and after- school programmes, summer classes for post-Covid catch-up, improvements to primary school facilities and potential creation of new primary school space as demand increases.

On the Brac, the Manifesto calls for moving forward with the new high school on the Bluff (which has been discussed since at least 2013), converting the existing Layman E. Scott Sr. High School into a TVET campus, creating a school for students with special education needs, and offering bachelor’s degree courses at the UCCI Brac campus.

The Manifesto sets out a list of ‘Twelve Priorities’ that would be the “top priority commitments” of a new Progressives-led government.

Completing the new John Gray campus, as well as other capital projects, comes in at Priority #3. Creating a ‘skills strategy’ is #6. Having every public school rated ‘Good’ is #7.

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