COVID delays new National Curriculum in public high schools

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The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the full implementation of the new Cayman Islands National Curriculum at the secondary school level until 2023.

The new national curriculum, which is adapted from the English National Curriculum, is now set to be rolled out to all public school students in August 2023, Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said in Cayman Islands Parliament on Thursday.

Progressives Shadow Minister of Education Barbara Conolly posed the Opposition question: “Can the Honourable Minister provide an update on the timetable for the introduction of the new Cayman Islands National Curriculum to cover students at all levels in Cayman’s public schools?”

O’Connor-Connolly said the new curriculum had been introduced to Key Stage 1 and 2 (Years 1 to 6) in public primary schools in August 2019.

In March 2020, all schools were closed during the countrywide COVID lockdown.

Originally, the new curriculum was scheduled to be implemented in Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9) in public secondary schools in August 2020. However, the Spring 2020 lockdown and Fall 2021 community spread of COVID, along with global supply chain issues, further postponed those plans.

Now, the curriculum is set to be rolled out to Years 7 and 8 in August 2022 and in Year 9 in August 2023.

O’Connor-Connolly said the curriculum will be introduced to Key Stage 4 (Years 10-12) in public secondary schools in August 2023.

She said Key Stage 2 students were assessed this school year using UK standardised tests.

“This will enable the Ministry and Department of Education Services to make international comparisons of students’ progress. This assessment will also assist the system in identifying any gaps that exist and planning the next steps in closing those gaps,” she said.

O’Connor-Connolly said the assessment results will be ‘forthcoming at the end of June’.

“At that stage we will do a public release and we’d be happy to share the information therein,” she said. “We’re being cautiously optimistic that COVID didn’t dampen the spirits of the children to that extent, but in comparison to the rest of the Caribbean we think we have a lot to be thankful for.”

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