27 Feb. 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
Inspectors continue to roll out reports on schools, including Clifton Hunter, Theoline McCoy and Edna Moyle. Winners from the Minds Inspired Math Challenge.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
This week we lived on a steady diet of school reports from the Office of Education Standards, which is conducting one-day ‘thematic visits’ to public and private schools.
We covered reports on 5 of the schools this week, and have now caught up on all 19 schools on which inspectors’ have published reports. The OES plans to visit a total of 31 schools during the Spring term.
As would be expected, the reports contain high points and low points.
One shining example comes from Clifton Hunter High School, where staff and leadership had effectively been addressing issues related to COVID-19, including emotional issues in students, staff absences and educators’ exhaustion, according to an inspector.
“The principal, senior leaders and staff had demonstrated strong commitment to promoting students’ wellbeing and progress during the pandemic. They had expertly coordinated arrangements to track, monitor and report on students’ health, well-being and progress,” the inspector said.
The principal, deputy principals and assistant teachers all pitched in to provide cover when teachers were absent.
“A distributed model of leadership was well-embedded in the school and this had promoted partnership and collaboration among teams at all levels during the pandemic,” she said.
At Theoline L. McCoy Primary School in Bodden Town, senior leaders and educators were feeling the pressures of additional duties related to COVID amid staff absences.
Despite attempts to address mental wellness, “a significant minority of staff expressed the need for additional resources to support their own emotional wellbeing,” the inspector said.
A majority of students continued to demonstrate academic progress during the pandemic, although attainment in key subjects was below international standards. The school had begun implementing strategies to close learning gaps, including early morning maths lessons and afternoon ‘booster lessons’.
Edna M. Moyle Primary School in North Side has maintained a positive and familial atmosphere during the pandemic. However, many students and some staff said they did not feel safe from COVID while at school.
According to surveys, only 55% of students and 69% of staff “responded that they felt safe at the school during the pandemic”, the inspector said.
In regard to mental health, staff said they were well supported by leaders and the school’s counsellor. The inspector said, “Staff also shared that they felt Senior Leaders were empathetic and this helped with their well-being during this very demanding time.”
Calvary Baptist Christian Academy has dealt with student absences and learning gaps due to COVID. Meanwhile, the private school has invested extra resources into online learning.
Although the school had implemented a new online version of its curriculum, a number of students failed to take up virtual learning while in isolation. Staff said the missed time translated to “periodic learning loss” in key subjects, according to the inspector.
Like other schools in Cayman, Calvary Baptist reported that it was difficult to hire new staff at this time.
Teachers at Wesleyan Christian Academy said the school’s communication with parents had improved significantly during the pandemic, but that mask-wearing had resulted in a slight ‘distancing’ between teachers and students.
“Students were unable to relate to staff’s facial expressions and the younger students were denied the physical reassurances enabled pre-Covid. Staff expressed the feeling that the mask may have been perceived as a ‘comprehension barrier’,” the inspector said.
Staff also discussed lowered ‘drive’ from some students who were facing challenges outside school, such as “parents losing jobs, or illnesses in the family, that had led to a loss of focus or optimism for the future”.
Congratulations to the winners of the 9th annual Minds Inspired Math Challenge, which was rescheduled from last November due to COVID and held in a scaled-down format.
In fact, kudos to all the participants, who qualified for the ‘Tournament of Champions’ by besting their peers at the school level.
Students from 6 secondary schools competed in the tournament. The team from John Gray High School won the junior team prize and Cayman International School won the senior team prize.
Cayman Prep and High School student Jake Fagan won the individual junior challenge, while Michael Marzouca of St. Ignatius Catholic School won the individual senior challenge.
Fagan and Marzouca were the first to win the junior and senior challenges, respectively, 2 years in a row.
***Editor’s Note: We delayed this week’s episode of EdBeat because co-host April Cummings is off-island. Don’t worry: We’ll be back shortly. … Stay tuned …***
More from the Current
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.)
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Minister admits relationship with BUT is ‘fractured’
- The Guardian (UK): Women outperform men in Japanese medical school entrance exams, years after testing scandal
- Jamaica Observer: Gov’t launches education expenditure review
- Jamaica Gleaner: Basil Jarrett | Reforming school boards
The Week Ahead
- UCCI Board minutes and annual report
- School inspection reports
- EdBeat: Episode 30