Gibbons: ‘Lost Credibility on Education Reform’

January 24, 2011

Dr. Grant Gibbons, Shadow Minister of Education, responded to the recent changes made within the Department of Education saying: “With a revolving door for Ministers, with endless, high-priced consultants and one plan after another, this government has lost its credibility on education reform.”

On January 21st Education Minister Dame Jennifer Smith said that after re-reading the Hopkins Report and examining the status of its recommendations, studying the Blueprint for Education and meeting with the Board of Education, the Association of School Principals and the Bermuda Union of Teachers — she decided to adopt the BUT’s theme of “Keep It Simple”.

Minister Smith went on to note changes – Commissioner of Education Wendy McDonnell will give up responsibility for the day to day operations of the Department of Education in order to lead the transformation of the Bermuda Public School System. In addition Permanent Secretary of Education, Warren Jones, will take on responsibility for the day to day operations of the Department of Education in the dual position of Permanent Secretary and Acting Commissioner of Education with responsibility for Operations.

Dr. Gibbons’s full statement follows below:

At this point, everyone in Bermuda should have serious concerns about this government’s ability to deliver education reform. We don’t doubt their commitment, but this latest change in direction and personnel is but one of many that have occurred in the last four years since the Hopkins Report.

In revealing these recent changes, Minister Smith announced this as “the first steps aimed at putting teaching and learning at the forefront of the Ministry’s mission”.

If these were the first steps, then we have to ask what has the Ministry been doing for the past four years? After all, Professor Hopkins’s number one recommendation was to “dramatically improve the quality of teaching.”

The United Bermuda Party has long called for the same goal: we need to get the best teachers, get the best out of our teachers and put some serious resources and money into professional development for teachers and principals. Real change has to take place in the classroom.

Furthermore, the Board of Education has been silent regarding these latest changes. An important part of their role is to provide consistency and oversight to make sure that the Ministry is following through on the Hopkins recommendations and the strategic plan, so what is their position now?

We do not believe that the PLP government is uncommitted. What is lacking here is not commitment, but lack of effective leadership and the willingness to take difficult political decisions to reform a broken system that resists change. With a revolving door for Ministers, with endless, high-priced consultants and one plan after another, this government has lost its credibility on education reform.

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  1. Rockfish says:

    I really take offense to Mr. Gibbons comments about the Education system in Bermuda. Let’s go back in time approximately 16 years. What party ruined the EDUCATION SYSTEM in BERMUDA??? the UBP… after peaceful marches on Parliament and an over signed petition they still messed it up. I didn’t have an issue with them building a new school at the former Devonshire Academy as it was overdue – but it did not have to be a “MEGA School”. So whose left to find a solution… the new ruling party at the time…including new Capital projects that eventually went over budget (The Berkeley Institute)..who could not no longer accommodate the increased demand in enrollment – which then lead to Saltus to also build to keep up with the same demand for people’s disgust in the Public System, as well as Warwick Academy and then Warwick Academy went private – I mean come on – the writing was on the wall then – Your most coveted aided school decides to go back private (in the sense of entrance requirements as we all know blacks were not allowed there for years) – or was it all a ploy by the UBP to put people in position prior to their departure from being the ruling party – I’m sure some of their members were on the Board at WA then. I’m just disgusted with how the Education went from such a high standard to something soo piss poor. We followed an English curriculum previously – why the hell would you change it to an American system – if anything you would go forward and not backward as we seem to have went – they should have followed an Asian Education Model as they produce the best students in the world. But with implementing the American model – they also fell short – not every child learns the same or at the same pace and there are classes for high achievers where learning is catered to them – but I have yet to see that happen here. The UBP failed on the Execution and Delivery of a system that did not need to be fixed as it was not broken. That being said Mr. Gibbons and the rest of the UBP – you need to fall back on your comments on the Education system as your party was the reason it got F*$&ed up.

    • For how long do we blame the past? says:

      The PLP has been in power for over 12 years. Even if the UBP F*$&ed everything up prior to that, why are you still happy with a party that can’t fix anything?