Minister On Proposed Education Act Changes

July 9, 2014

Minister of Education Dr. Grant Gibbons delivered an update on the state of the public and parent consultation process for proposed amendments to the Education Act 1996 in the House of Assembly last Friday.

Minister Gibbons said, “Parental involvement makes a significant difference in the success of the education of children and we know that schools and the Department of Education cannot be successful without parental and community support to help make the difference for all children.

“The goals of the consultation process were met, in that important feedback was received on the proposals to amend the Education Act 1996. Parents and community members gave their thoughtful and often passionate views, and those views have been noted and considered.

“I am currently reviewing the policy proposals to better balance the concerns and interests expressed during the consultation period. Further outreach, engagement and information sharing will continue throughout the summer and into the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,

In late May I spoke to Members of the House about the importance of parental involvement in our children’s education. I also launched a consultation process on proposals to amend the Education Act 1996 to improve and facilitate parental and community involvement in our children’s education.

The consultation closed on June 9th, and I would like to provide a brief update on the process, its results and next steps that will be taken over the summer and into the next school year.

First, I would like to reiterate that parental and community involvement is absolutely essential for the improvement of public education in Bermuda and around the world.

Parental involvement makes a significant difference in the success of the education of children and we know that schools and the Department of Education cannot be successful without parental and community support to help make the difference for all children.

Mr. Speaker,

The recently concluded consultation was a response to growing voices among many parents – who have been asking for more information, more understanding, and more say in their children’s education. It was also the fulfillment of a commitment to come back to parents after the conclusion of consultation that took place in Fall 2013.

It allowed parents and community members to hear and weigh in on development of a sound legislative foundation for growing meaningful parental involvement within our public school system.

The consultation process included a consultation document which set out proposals to introduce School Community Councils as a means to increase parental involvement and improve governance in our maintained schools.

A meeting was held specifically targeted to parents and other PTA members to share the proposals and gain feedback. Additionally, meetings were held with other important stakeholders, including:

  • The Bermuda Parent Teacher Student Association (commonly referred to as the BPTSA);
  • The Bermuda Union of Teachers;
  • The Bermuda Public Services Union (which represents both Education civil servants and all public school principals); and
  • The Shadow Minister for Education, Ms. Lovita Foggo, M.P.

I think it is important for parents, community members, principals, teachers, and all stakeholders in public education to know that I have been listening, and will continue to listen. The engagement through the consultation is one example of this.

This process of listening and engagement is not static, and will continue as part of the day-to-day operations and approach of the Department of Education.

The goals of the consultation process were met, in that important feedback was received on the proposals to amend the Education Act 1996. Parents and community members gave their thoughtful and often passionate views, and those views have been noted and considered.

Following the oral and written submissions received during the consultation process, it is evident that more discussion and outreach is needed in order to finally resolve the question of what parental and community involvement should look like for our schools.

Therefore, I am currently reviewing the policy proposals to better balance the concerns and interests expressed during the consultation period.

Further outreach, engagement and information sharing will continue throughout the summer and into the upcoming 2014-2015 school year and the results of this process will be used to develop proposals that better reflect those concerns and interests.

Mr. Speaker,

In closing, I’d like to thank the parents, community members, principals, teachers and other stakeholders who took the time to attend the meetings, and provide oral and written submissions on the proposed changes to the Education Act 1996. Their contributions are valued and will contribute to improved parental and community involvement.

Thank you Mr. Speaker

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