Video: Minister On Proposed Education Changes

September 18, 2013

Education Minister Nalton Brangman announced today [Sept 18] that the Ministry is launching public consultation on proposed changes to the Education Act 1996.

Minister Brangman said, “In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Parent-Teacher Associations [PTAs] of maintained schools – that is schools owned and funded almost exclusively by the Government – must be treated as boards of governors as prescribed in the Education Act 1996. This occurred after two Parent-Teacher Associations [PTAs] disagreed with the transfers of their principals.

“The Ministry was therefore unable to transfer principals, because the Supreme Court ruled that it had a duty to first consult with PTAs. However, teachers were transferred without any legal challenges by PTAs.”

Education Minister’s statement:

Minister Brangman said this year the Ministry successfully consulted two PTAs of schools who needed new principals and also attempted to transfer teachers.

“PTAs of a few schools complained, citing the previous years’ Supreme Court ruling. And, although the Ministry tried to resolve the issue with PTAs, in the end, teachers could not be transferred because the Ministry had not consulted with each affected PTA,” said the Minister.

“Parents and other members of the public should be aware that the full implications of the Supreme Court ruling go well beyond staffing, in that PTAs of maintained schools must be treated as boards of governors as per the Education Act 1996.

“As required by the Supreme Court ruling, they must be given the same responsibilities assigned to boards of governors of maintained schools.

“This means that PTAs would be given responsibility for managing millions of dollars of public money. They would have to carry out school maintenance, which includes safety and health for students and school staff, and would also be entitled to sufficient personnel information of principals and teachers to make informed decisions on recommendations for staffing changes.”

Q&A with the Education Minister:

Minister Brangman continued, “I do not believe that already busy parents want to take on these responsibilities with the required time and effort, but that they want better communication, more information, and more meaningful involvement in improving their children’s education.

“Therefore, I am asking the public to consider two options for changing the Education Act 1996:

“One option is to establish and implement school advisory councils for every maintained school. School advisory councils are a means of creating school-to-community connections, engaging parents and assisting schools to improve student achievement.

“The second, but preferred option is to amend the Education Act 1996 to remove boards of governors for maintained schools. In their place would be a new relationship with PTAs that is focused on student achievement and school improvement.

These proposals are presented in the consultation document below, and public meetings which will be held on October 2nd, 8th and 10th. The public can also email submissions to educationconsultation@moed.bm, and the consultation will close on November 15th, 2013.

Minister Brangman’s full statement follows below:

Good afternoon ladies and gentleman.

Today I am launching public consultation on proposed changes to the Education Act 1996. It represents our need to appropriately engage parents and the community in improved student achievement.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) of maintained schools – that is schools owned and funded almost exclusively by the Government – must be treated as boards of governors as prescribed in the Education Act 1996. This occurred after two Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) disagreed with the transfers of their principals.

These transfers were intended for the purposes of school and system improvement, but were determined to be null and void by the Supreme Court.

The Ministry was therefore unable to transfer principals, because the Supreme Court ruled that it had a duty to first consult with PTAs. However, teachers were transferred without any legal challenges by PTAs.

This year the Ministry successfully consulted two PTAs of schools who needed new principals. It also attempted to transfer teachers, in the best interests of children and schools for:

  • Professional growth and development of staff;
  • To help share experience and knowledge of teaching staff between schools; and
  • To promote balance between schools.

PTAs of a few schools complained, citing the previous years’ Supreme Court ruling. And, although the Ministry tried to resolve the issue with PTAs, in the end, teachers could not be transferred because the Ministry had not consulted with each affected PTA.

Parents and other members of the public should be aware that the full implications of the Supreme Court ruling go well beyond staffing, in that PTAs of maintained schools must be treated as boards of governors as per the Education Act 1996.
As required by the Supreme Court ruling, they must be given the same responsibilities assigned to boards of governors of maintained schools.

In addition to advising the Minister of Education on policy matters related to the school, PTAs would have to:
• Consider the appointment of principals and teachers into and out of the school;
• Manage and administer all of the financial affairs of the school;
• Manage and administer all of the maintenance of the premises of the school;
• Employ staff to help manage and administer the maintenance of school, if deemed necessary,; and
• Engage in other functions as determined by the Minister.

This means that PTAs would be given responsibility for managing millions of dollars of public money. They would have to carry out school maintenance, which includes safety and health for students and school staff, and would also be entitled to sufficient personnel information of principals and teachers to make informed decisions on recommendations for staffing changes.

I do not believe that already busy parents want to take on these responsibilities with the required time and effort, but that they want better communication, more information, and more meaningful involvement in improving their children’s education.
Therefore, I am asking the public to consider two options for changing the Education Act 1996:

One option is to establish and implement school advisory councils for every maintained school. School advisory councils are a means of creating school-to-community connections, engaging parents and assisting schools to improve student achievement.

The second, but preferred option is to amend the Education Act 1996 to remove boards of governors for maintained schools.

In their place would be a new relationship with PTAs that is focused on student achievement and school improvement. This relationship would be enshrined through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would be largely focused on the role of parent participation in school improvement. It would give all parents equal access to relevant achievement-related information and direct participation in school improvement.

These proposals are presented in a consultation document available at www.moed.bm.

And, as the purpose of the consultation is to gain the best possible outcome for children, I want parents and the community to give their own views about how they want to be involved in improving schools for all children.

Persons can also hear more and share their own insights at public meetings which will be held on:

  • October 2nd
  • October 8th and
  • October 10th.

They can also:
Email submissions to educationconsultation@moed.bm,
Provide them directly by mail, or by hand or contact the Ministry directly

The consultation will close on November 15th, 2013 to allow me to make a final decision on proposed changes during this Parliamentary Year.

This consultation process will also overlap with the Inclusive and Special Education consultation which is already underway.

In closing, I hope that parents and the community realize that they are one of Bermuda’s greatest assets. This is because parental involvement is a key factor in improved student achievement. I therefore propose that the involvement of parents and the community be harnessed to help the Ministry of Education and schools get it right for every child.

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The 33-page Public Consultation document follows below [PDF Here]

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Comments (16)

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  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    This guy is not cut out to be Minister. Or is he the PS?

  2. Vote for Me says:

    Mr. Minister – surely we can find the necessary concerned parents from public education to ensure the successful education of THEIR children.

  3. Sigh says:

    THIS IS A JOKE!!!

  4. Concerned Parent says:

    It is right and proper that the Dept of Education consult with PTAs before reassigning staff. Without a legal obligation to do so, this is unlikely to happen. In fact, if it truly was Government’s intent, then there would be no need to change the legislation.

    The Dept of Ed is not involved in the day-to-day operations of these schools, and is not best positioned to judge what is in the best interests of the teachers, learners and parents.

    Rather than remove the legal requirement, why not simplify the consultation process between DoE and PTAs. Here’s my suggestion;

    The DoE propose the transfer and the PTA have a finite period (say 60 days) to ask questions, meet and ultimately vote on whether they are in favor or against the proposal. The PTA decision (based on majority vote) would then be conveyed back to DoE (along with the count so they have an indication of the school’s level of support). If the PTA fails to make a decision within the defined period, then they forfeit their right to be part of the decision process, and the DoE proceed without their input.

    • Another Concerned Parent says:

      That makes sense.
      I also would like to see more transparency around the process for transferring teachers. The Minister stated that there were 100 transfers without issue last year. Why some many? This has got to have an impact on the quality of teaching throughout the system. Let’s shed some light on that.

  5. San Geoge says:

    They are our children sir, not their children.

  6. Serious Though says:

    we pay the bills, we get to have a say in education system. The government cannot be the sole driver in education:To much government is not good for education development: totalitarianism !
    PLP 12 plus ministers of education, OBA, the minister of Education is not an elected MP??

    Nice try BUT we got you! answer NO and NEVER!

  7. Amazed says:

    This seems like smoke and mirrors to disguise their real agenda because the Chief Justice reversed the transfers because the goverment had promised to consult and therefore the PTA’s had a reasonable expectation to be consulted! He then said that if the ministry still decided to transfer principals after the consultation they would be free to do so.
    This nonsense about PTA being required to oversee millions of dollars is intended to frighten the PTAs to go along with what the ministry is proposing!

    • frank says:

      this minister is a joke he is clearly not in charge of nothing just a face for the media that’s all it is time for him to be removed now

  8. mai says:

    This sucks. All that effort, time and momey the parents of these students made to get involved and stay involved in their children’s education is about to get flushed down the drain because the DoE is too lazy to follow the legislation and do things the right way! They always want to CUT CORNERS. Sheesh!!!
    I will support every PTA, every parent ans every child!

  9. Hmmm says:

    Doing away with the generally inefficient and cost incurring boards. Makes sense, alot of sense, too much sense for some folk.

    Because of some ruling, the PTA’s could end up fighting in courts to run the schools….not a good idea ! Not a good idea at all.

    What he proposes makes alot of sense.

    • Real Talk (original) says:

      Um. They wouldn’t be “doing away” with any boards because the boards don’t exist for maintained schools (except Cedarbridge). That’s the point… That in the absence of any boards, PTAs perform some of those duties. Note, PTAs don’t incur any costs.

      There have been two legal challenges to the Ministry of Education in as many years involving the involuntary transfer of teachers and/or principals. It is clear that a new framework is needed. I do not believe that removing parental input is the answer.

  10. Norris Alvin Williams says:

    This is a power grap on the part of the OBA government; having lost a court fight between the government and the PTA; it a move to make sure it never happens again. Time for national PTA’s to come together and defend thier interests.

  11. Gone Gates says:

    Personally, I believe we should start looking at charging our schools to operate more like the Charter School System in parts of the US and Canada. These government funded schools are run and operated similar to private schools. In most cases they are better run, have better attendance , better teachers and get better results. In the Charlotte Area, the demand is so high to get in these Charter Schools that a lottery is held each year.

  12. Mazumbocann says:

    This is a big distraction. Where are the exam and graduation results? How do they compare?