20 March 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
‘Island Jobs’ debuts at Cayman Documentary Festival. Inspectors’ reports from Triple C and First Baptist. Free meals programme extended to public secondary schools. Thompson Family Foundation awards $25K in UCCI scholarships.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Week In Review
The first episode of the Cayman Current’s documentary series ‘Island Jobs’ had a successful debut at the Cayman Documentary Festival.
The showing on Friday evening occurred in conjunction with film ‘The Great Disconnect’ and was followed by a panel discussion on mental health, moderated by Island Jobs director Kayla Young.
Island Jobs is the Current’s first in-depth multimedia journalism project. The series is sponsored by Health City Cayman Islands, Enterprise Cayman and Silver Palm Studios. The Current’s media partner is Cayman Life TV.
Currently in post-production, the finished project will comprise five episodes as well as a 90-minute feature-length version.
The Great Disconnect, directed by Tamer Soliman, examines the impacts on mental wellness by urban design, technology and social isolation.
Island Jobs explores local opportunities and challenges in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and STEM education.
The Documentary Festival runs 6 nights at Camana Bay Cinema with films on different topics showing each night, ending Monday, 21 March.
Moderated by Young, Friday evening’s panel (in association with the Alex Panton Foundation) facilitated a discussion on issues related to mental health and education. Panellists included psychologist Shari Smith, NCVO Pre-School Director Delores Thompson, Alex Panton Youth Ambassador Monina Thompson and life coach Laura Watler.
If you didn’t catch Friday’s showing, you’ll have to wait until the completion of the entire series, which is currently in post-production with Silver Palm. When the project is finished, we will air the documentary online, on Cayman Life TV and via other avenues.
Stay tuned …
This week we created a new homepage for the Island Jobs documentary.
The page will be the central repository for all news, information and updates about Island Jobs. It will grow and evolve as the project progresses.
The new senior leadership team at Triple C School is aware it needs to strengthen processes and systems to improve the school, Office of Education Standards inspectors said.
Most of the staff at the private school in George Town had good reviews for support they have received from leaders and pastoral staff. This school year, attendance among students and staff had remained relatively high.
Triple C has new leadership in both school administration and governance.
The school’s pastoral team was praised for its efforts but sometimes felt overwhelmed by the increase in students seeking support.
“The team reported an increased case load due to the number of students in the high school who required counselling support during the pandemic. They felt the increasing demands for support coupled with their regular workload was often too much for the small team,” inspectors said.
Assessments indicated that most students were making acceptable progress in learning.
First Baptist Christian School has adapted to COVID-19 by supplementing staff, introducing flexibility and adopting new technology, an inspector said.
The private school in George Town focussed on identifying learning gaps and then supporting students who needed additional assistance.
Additional staff had been hired to provide cover during the pandemic, including an additional teacher, as well as using an external agency to provide substitute teachers. Also, specialist teachers were put into the regular duty rotation.
“Teachers reported that they felt the school was improving regarding having adequate staff to cover the curriculum in challenging times,” the inspector said.
The school used programmes to identify learning gaps that may have worsened in the past 2 years, and then focussed additional efforts on students having issues.
***Editor’s note: We’ve now written stories on 20 of the 31 schools that inspectors plan to visit this term. On Friday, 18 March, OES published reports on 8 more schools. We’ll start tackling those this week.***
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The government’s free meals programme is being expanded to public high schools, including CIFEC, this Monday.
“Last August, we introduced the Public Schools Meals Programme in primary schools and at the Lighthouse School. I am pleased that we can now extend this programme to our secondary school students,” Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said.
The school meals programme has universally received high marks from primary school leaders and teachers in their comments to inspectors this term, particularly in regard to preserving attendance rates among certain segments of the student population.
In a September meeting of Finance Committee, O’Connor-Connolly said the programme would be expanded to secondary schools in January 2022. However, the government’s ‘purchase agreements’ with school meal vendors did not appear to contain funds for secondary schools until January 2023.
According to the purchase agreements, the government intends to spend about $15 million per year on free meals (breakfast, lunch and snack) for all public primary and secondary schools.
When we heard about the programme expansion earlier in the week, we emailed the ministry asking for clarification on when the decision was made to include secondary schools, and how the expanded programme would be funded. We are awaiting a response.
More from the Current
- Thompson Family Foundation awards $25K in UCCI scholarships
- Clifton Hunter High School Holds Fourth Annual Mathematics Championship
- Brac teams sweep the board at SeaPerch underwater robotics competition
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Cayman Compass ($): Meals programme rolls out in public secondary schools
- Cayman Life TV: In touch with the earth
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): LEARNING LOSS THREAT: Almost 1,000 students fully absent from public schools for two years
The Week Ahead
- School inspection reports
- UCCI annual report
- EdBeat: Episode 32