In an informal poll of subscribers to our Weekly Current newsletter, we asked how they felt about the level of transparency in the Cayman Islands education system. Not one respondent said there is enough information about public and private schools.
Generally speaking, Cayman’s government is publishing more data every year on local schools, particularly public schools. Currently, Cayman has greater transparency on school performance than nearly all of our regional peers, although the information is far more limited and less robust than can be found in first-world nations such as the United Kingdom and United States.
Public vs. private schools
The Cayman government publishes a greater amount of data on public schools than private schools. (This is the rule in other countries as well.)
The two main sources of information on Cayman schools are the annual Education Data Report, published by the Ministry of Education and Department of Education Services, and the individual school inspection reports (and data analyses) published by the Office of Education Standards.
The Education Data Report contains enrolment data for both public and private schools, and also has detailed (school- and grade-level) data on student achievement, but only for public schools.
So while information is available, for example, on external exam results for Year 11 John Gray High School students, that same information is not published for Year 11 students in private schools.
In April and May, we published a series of stories analysing information from the 2020 Education Data Report.
The OES inspection reports are consistent across public and private schools and contain statistics on students and faculty, but primarily are composed of observations, and recommendations, by inspectors on how schools are meeting (or failing to meet) a number of standard benchmarks.
Much of the information in our Cayman Islands Schools Explorer is drawn from the individual OES inspection reports.
The level of information that is available on Cayman schools is not matched by any of the neighbouring jurisdictions we examined. Often, even country-level data on exam results is not made available publicly, or is years out-of-date.
Exam results are not available, for example, for the British Virgin Islands, a fellow British Overseas Territory, or for the independent nation of Barbados.
Guyana only made public the names of top-performing students on Caribbean Examinations Council exams, while Trinidad and Tobago only published the overall pass rate in English and Mathematics.
(Cayman has published the Year 11 and 12 public school students’ results on 116 different exams.)
Questions in Bermuda
Although Bermuda is in the North Atlantic and not the Caribbean, the BOT is often used as a close comparison to Cayman.
Recently, longtime Bermudian educator Mansfield Brock took Bermuda’s government to task for keeping academic grades “top secret”.
According to The Royal Gazette newspaper, Brock said, “The senior secondary results are atrocious and they hide the results of the bad performance … The Ministry of Education in Bermuda has a policy of making certain that the general public never gets the evaluation results of our senior secondary schools.
“When was the last time that any of you saw the IGCSE results of CedarBridge [Academy] and The Berkeley [Institute]? They are top secret and will not be published.”
While Cayman offers more public information on student enrolment and education outcomes than regional peers, that information is a fraction of what is available in first-world nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States — which have sophisticated public-facing online databases.
For example, the UK government maintains at least 4 databases on education statistics, school information, financial benchmarking and school performance.
In the US, education is primarily a responsibility of state governments, not the US federal government, so information varies from state to state.
Large states such as Florida, New York and Texas have public databases that allow people to explore data, statistics and reports from the system-wide level down to individual schools.