6 June 2022 (Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Weekend)
Weekly Current (archived version)
Cayman schools respond to COVID’s impacts beyond the classroom. Minds Inspired spotlights Caymanian STEM professionals. CIIPA honours graduates. Advisories from DES.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Cayman Islands schools are not limited to what occurs in the classroom – or via remote learning.
Rather, educators are responding to what students and their families are experiencing outside school. Similarly, the schools’ successes often depend on actions being taken beyond the classroom setting, according to reports from Office of Education Standards inspectors.
For example, a major challenge encountered by Sir John A Cumber Primary School was to provide training for parents so they could assist with their children’s home-based learning.
“Senior leaders, staff and some parents highlighted the issue that there were a significant number of parents that had lacked the literacy, numeracy and IT skills to support their children’s learning,” Senior Inspector David Baldwin said.
In response, the school developed an initiative called ‘Cumber University‘ to “deliver sessions to parents within the school’s community to support adult literacy, numeracy and IT skills. These were to be delivered in the evening at school and the initiative had been met with considerable support from the community”, he said.
From January to April 2022, inspectors conducted one-day ‘thematic visits’ to 34 public and private schools across the Cayman Islands.
We wrote stories on each individual school and have begun higher-level analyses of inspectors’ findings. This week we published our fourth story in that series.
At several schools, inspectors noted “at-home” issues that could affect students’ performance at school. On the other hand, many schools reported they had significantly enhanced the quality and quantity of communication among staff and with parents during the pandemic.
At Clifton Hunter High School, staff said “a significant minority of students” had been experiencing emotional issues due to the pandemic, staff reported, linking that “to increased incidence of vaping and marijuana use.”
At Wesleyan Christian Academy, teachers said communication with parents had improved during the pandemic, but mask-wearing had resulted in a slight ‘distancing’ between teachers and students.
Staff also said students’ well-being had been negatively impacted by the effects of the pandemic outside of school.
“Staff reported anecdotally, that some students, particularly higher in the school, had lost a degree of ‘drive’ during the pandemic. Staff contributed this to Covid-related factors such as parents losing jobs, or illnesses in the family, that had led to a loss of focus or optimism for the future,” an inspector said.
At George Town Primary School, “Staff expressed the need for a national parent association to alleviate staff of some of the responsibilities associated with supporting parents and families during a pandemic or other adverse circumstances,” an inspector said.
Minds Inspired contributed an article on two young Caymanians who work at Dart in STEM professions.
Architect intern Francisco Monteiro and construction engineer Benjamin Davey shared their journeys from school to university to jobs as part of a career guidance programme hosted by Minds Inspired and the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors and Engineers (CASE).
The programme included 18 students from 6 high schools.
Here’s an excerpt from the Q+A:
Have you always wanted to do the job you are doing now?
Francisco: Yes, I knew in high school I wanted to become an architect and chose maths and higher level art as subjects for my IB full diploma. I consider myself an artist and I’ve always enjoyed maths, as much as one can! I know it sounds like a cliché, but as a kid I loved building stuff, playing with Lego and designing houses on Sims.
Ben: My career has been more organic. After studying Materials Engineering at the University of Manchester, I explored my options in academia and ultimately decided to take a year out to try my hand at a few things like construction work and web design. When I came back to Cayman, I applied for a job in document control at Dart. Because of my background in engineering, I was encouraged to move into construction engineering which ultimately led me to project management.
At their annual awards gala last Saturday, the Cayman Islands Institute of Professional Accountants (CIIPA) celebrated dozens of Caymanians who earned university degrees in accounting.
Forty-five Caymanians were honoured throughout the evening, including 35 who earned a bachelor’s degree and 10 who earned a master’s degree.
“Long gone are the days where accountants are primarily concerned with bookkeeping and preparing financial documents. Accountants are no longer behind-the-scenes players in the workplace. But rather they are driving forces that research, collect, analyze and advise,” CIIPA President Rennie Khan said.
Bachelor’s degree honourees included: Aaron Fernandes, Alyssa McLaughlin, Carrie McLaughlin, Denry Howell, Derricka Neysmith, Errol Simms, Estefhany Rivers, Eva McLean, Germaine Ebanks, Indira McLaughlin, Jenna Alpuche, Joel Gayle, John Carlo Ow, Jonathan Walmsley, Jordon Williams, Jose Vasquez, Kevin Weber, Kimberly Dawson, Kireen Morris, Kirk Foster, Leyla Padilla Arcon, Lisa Royal, Lissette Carter, Luca Polloni, Lucas Byrnes, Mariah Webb, Mikhalia Byndloss, Ninna Bodden, Piers Davies, Rajiv Jaggernath, Shantae Hamilton, Steve Miller, Tramaine Roper and Yolanda Paredes-Arias.
Master’s degree honourees included: Brittany Scott, Daniel Burns, Francella Martin, Jonathan Walmsley, Max Pairaudeau, Piers Davies, Rochel Gardener, Ryan Barnett, Selena Ross and Simon Butler.
The event marked the first of two CIIPA Awards Galas scheduled for 2022 as the gala had been postponed and rescheduled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second gala is slated to be held in September and will honour Caymanians who have earned their professional designation, and those who complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees this year.
Among the CIIPA honourees were 6 graduates from the International College of the Cayman Islands (ICCI).
Uniting the Cayman Islands around education
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More from the Current
- Department of Education Services Explains Exam Deferral Process
- Advisory: 15 June Deadline to Apply for Student Transfer
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 Guardian (UK): Free US school lunches were a dream come true. Now, a hunger crisis looms for 10 million children
- Jamaica Gleaner: Editorial | Involve Jamaicans on Patterson report
The Week Ahead
- Analyses, school inspectors’ reports
- EdBeat: Episode 38