***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.***
Teachers at Footsteps gave school leaders good marks for being supportive of their well-being during the pandemic, an Office of Education standards inspector said.
Unlike many schools, the private primary school has had few absences due to COVID-19, seen minimal learning loss, and has not had difficulties recruiting new staff members, according to a letter to directors Bryony Platt and Emma Kendall from Chief Inspector Nicholas Sherriff.
“Senior leaders reported that staff wellbeing was a priority for this academic year and had provided wellness training. Moreover, senior leaders were keen to stress that additional time required for Covid-19 related incidents was returned to staff where possible,” Sherriff said.
“Staff further reported how well supported they felt, and stated senior leaders had monitored teachers’ wellbeing, even stepping in to take lessons and alleviate pressure,” he said.
The visit to the George Town school occurred on 23 March and the inspector’s summary is dated 24 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.
“The school had created an inclusive and safe learning environment allowing students to continue their education during the pandemic. The school team referred to each other as family and exhibited a strong collegial spirit,” the inspector said.
“Almost all parents, staff and students surveyed, reported that the school was a safe place to learn during the pandemic,” he said.
The school had implemented measures to prevent the spread of COVID, including mask wearing, hand sanitising, holding assemblies outside and staggering arrival and departure times for students.
COVID had accounted for “a minor increase” in absence of 3% since September 2021. The school’s average attendance stood at 94%.
Nearly 20% of the student population at Footsteps is registered as having Special Education Needs and/or Disabilities.
“Subject coordinators reported very minimal learning loss evident in the GL Progress test
scores and internal assessment results. However, teachers did suggest that students who
came from other countries or halfway through the year had been identified as requiring
the most support,” Sherriff said.
Despite the additional pressures of the pandemic, leaders had analysed school performance and produced a self-evaluation and school improvement plan.
“The school leadership reported the school had continued to be a popular choice for new
staff and they had not experienced any recruitment issues due to the pandemic,” the inspector said.