***Editor’s Note: Due to the impact of COVID-19, the Office of Education Standards is conducting one-day ‘thematic visits’ to Cayman Islands schools in the Spring 2022 term in lieu of more in-depth inspections. (Click to expand.)
(Read our story on the decision here.) OES recently published the first batch of reports from these visits, which will eventually involve 31 government and private schools and culminate in a national report. The Current will publish a story on each individual school, as well as stories from a more comprehensive perspective.***
Under the leadership of a new principal and deputy principal, Creek and Spot Bay Primary School has maintained positive attitudes among staff and students during the pandemic, an Office of Education Standards inspector said.
Student attendance at the school remained high until community spread of COVID-19 increased on Cayman Brac at the beginning of 2022, according to a letter to Principal Margaret Juman from Senior Inspector Althea Edwards-Boothe.
“A new Principal and Acting Deputy Principal were appointed at the start of the current school year. They had benefitted from ongoing training and support to carry out their new responsibilities effectively,” Edwards-Boothe said.
“School leaders spoke positively about the support provided by the senior school improvement officer such as organising opportunities for them to collaborate with colleagues in other schools as well as other professional development opportunities. The senior school improvement officer indicated that there was a now a sharp focus upon building staff capacity and the mapping of progression pathways for classroom teachers and middle leaders as part of the department’s succession planning strategy,” she said.
The visit occurred on 16 March and the inspector’s summary is dated 17 March.
“I did not find any significant concerns” during the school visit, the inspector said.
Unlike full inspection reports, the inspectors do not assign graded judgments to schools as a result of the one-day visits. Inspectors conduct interviews with school leadership, teachers and administration, as well as reviewing documentation.
While measures taken to guard against COVID had resulted in extra work for staff, the school had largely been spared from direct impacts of the virus itself until the the current spring term.
“Students’ average attendance throughout the pandemic was in the mid-90s. As a consequence of the increase in community transfer of Covid-19 on Cayman Brac, attendance had been trending downwards since January with the biggest dip in attendance since the current school year recorded in February,” the inspector said.
Unlike many other schools, “Staff reported that the pandemic had not led to an increase in students with anxiety related concerns,” Edwards-Boothe said.
Students had been able to continue to participate in extracurricular activities as well as field trips, such as visits to a local farm.
The school’s pastoral team includes a Special Education Needs Coordinator, education psychologist and school counsellor, who “expertly expertly coordinated care and support for students with additional learning needs,” the inspector said.
“Staff also made highly positive comments about the support provided by school leaders to promote their emotional wellbeing during the pandemic,” she said.
The school had implemented an array of measures to protect against COVID, including mask-wearing, outdoor sinks, hand sanitiser dispensers, water bottle dispensers, social distancing and staggered times for breaks and lunch.
“Despite having a lower student enrolment than most government schools, staff reported finding the batching and distribution of Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) to be quite labour intensive. Nonetheless, all staff supported this activity as needed,” Edwards-Boothe said.
The school had brought in interns to assist school staff.
“A number of interns had been contracted by the District Administration and they provided valuable support to class teachers supporting one on one and small group interventions. Interns were also included in the school’s professional development plans to support them to improve their practice over time,” the inspector said.