12 June 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
COVID delays new National Curriculum. Progressives seek answers on education. ‘Mobile pool’ coming to public primary schools. New Education Council members.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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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.
The National Curriculum was one of several topics about which the Progressives sought information during last week’s sitting of Parliament.
Other Opposition questions included:
- Can the Honourable Minister provide an update on the implementation of her plans to improve and extend early years education provision?
- Can the Honourable Minister state whether she intends to update the Cayman Islands Special Educational Needs Code of Practice to ensure that it meets with current best practice?
- Can the Honourable Minister state what action she has taken or plans she has made, in light of the serious concerns raised by the Office of Education Standards that students across the public school system experienced “learning loss” caused by interruptions to their education, as a result of the various pandemic restrictions?
This week we plan to publish stories on Minister O’Connor-Connolly’s responses to those three questions. … Stay tuned …
Younger students in public primary schools will be given free swimming lessons as part of their physical education curriculum, thanks to a public-private partnership and a mobile swimming pool.
In Parliament last Thursday, Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly described the Swim Free programme, enabled by the Flowers, Foster and Seymour families in partnership with the YMCA of the Cayman Islands.
“Swim Free is a curriculum-based programme that mandates lifesaving water skills for all children in Reception through Year 2 in the Cayman Islands government education system,” O’Connor-Connolly said.
The mobile swim pool, or ‘independent swimming apparatus’, will be housed within a 40-foot shipping container and transported by trailer to each government school campus for one month at a time.
The pool will be built in the United States and have a retractable cover to prevent unauthorised access. The pool will have a maximum depth of 4 feet. Construction of the pool will take approximately 6 months from the time a deposit is provided, she said.
“On islands founded upon the seas, we believe swimming is a fundamental right and speaks to the very heart of Caymanian culture. Our mission is to give every child in the Cayman Islands the chance to learn how to swim,” Frank Flowers Jr. said during the Flowers Sea Swim gala dinner on Thursday evening.
“Water safety is essential when you live on islands where the sea is never more than a few miles away. The benefit of a portable pool is we can reach children who might otherwise not have the opportunity to learn in an environment that is comfortable and familiar for them. Most drownings happen within 10 feet of safety so being able to swim a short distance is enough to save young lives,” Flowers said.
During the month the pool is at a school, a qualified Learn 2 Swim instructor will provide 8 to 9 lessons for every class from Reception through Year 2.
Private donations will pay for the pool and operation of the programme for a year.
O’Connor-Connolly said that beginning in 2024, the ‘non-staff recurring cost’ to government is estimated to be $30,000 per year.
She said, “That is a small price to pay for the lives of our children.”
Other costs yet to be established include maintenance, resources and shipping the pool to/from Cayman Brac.
“The coaching salary cost will remain with Swim Free subject to future negotiations with government,” she said.
Uniting the Cayman Islands around education
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The Cayman Islands Cabinet has approved the appointments of Ian O’Connor and Brenda Watson to the Education Council.
The appointments appear in the Post Meeting Summary from the 31 May meeting of Cabinet.
More from the Current
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): Nearly one in three children in north-east England on free school meals
- The Guardian (UK): Cressida Cowell renews call for £100m investment in primary school libraries
- Jamaica Gleaner: Early-childhood education – The missing link
- Stabroek News (Guyana): Schools to close July/August – Manickchand
The Week Ahead
- Answers to Opposition questions
- Analyses, school inspectors’ reports
- EdBeat: Episode 38