Minister: Making Education Work For Students

January 22, 2015

Scott Tucker Photography Bermuda[Opinion column written by Education Minister Wayne Scott]

In our public schools today, there are excellent students making great strides forward in their education and achieving top grades in internationally recognized assessments. We have great principals and teachers who go above and beyond to ensure their students achieve to the best of their abilities.

We have committed parents and families who are engaged with their children’s education. We are the only public school system in the world fully using the world renowned Cambridge curriculum. There are, however, students who are not achieving, parents who could be more engaged and other longstanding issues that have been a disservice to our students and community for far too long.

During the last two years, much work has been going on in the Department of Education [DOE] to build upon the five-year education reform plan started in 2010 and to ensure we provide the best opportunities for our children to compete, not just in Bermuda, but against a globalized workforce in which technology is rapidly changing the landscape and national borders are becoming less important.

My colleagues and I want to get public education working better – for students and teachers and for people across the community who need qualified employees. We need to equip our students with the tools to succeed and help drive our economy forward.

I believe a good quality education is the best avenue to ensuring success in life, and our commitment is to ensure every student gets the opportunity, resources and support they need to succeed.

The following list highlights current initiatives designed to make that happen:

  • An Education System Improvement Plan is in place to provide clear guidance to educators to strengthen student performance. In the past year, this plan has seen teachers undergo professional development in the areas of literacy, mathematics and inclusive and special education.
  • The Bermuda National Curriculum upgrade is underway to ensure that content and instructional practices remain current.
  • The Early Childhood Education Development Screening has been expanded because of the positive lifetime benefits early education preparation confers.
  • Teacher development continues. At the beginning of the current school year, preschool teachers participated in workshops on how to design ‘emergent environment’ classrooms to foster student inquisitiveness and responsiveness. Teachers are also engaged in professional learning and development with a focus on teaching literacy and critical thinking, mathematics and problem solving, as well as incorporating special education needs into schools.
  • The rollout of the 10-point Middle School Transformation Plan is underway, with its focus on high-impact actions to improve the learning outcomes for middle school students.

The Education system recognizes that not every student is destined to become an accountant or lawyer or to work in international business. As part of our Career Pathways programme, the Middle School technical curriculum will become a licensed provider of City and Guilds technical and vocational certifications. This enables the DOE to carry technical courses from Middle School to the senior levels, offering students more options to find a career that fits their interests and proper training to develop their knowledge and skills.

We are working to grow parental and community involvement in student education. The newly established Parent Team within the DOE is reviewing ways to maximize parent involvement in the education system. Changes to the 1996 Education Act are in the works to help the DOE manage schools more efficiently and to get parents more engaged in system improvements.

The process to recruit a Commissioner of Education, which is the responsibility of the Board of Education, is also well underway.

Throughout all these activities, I am committed to collaborating with unions, principals, teachers, parents and other stakeholders to make sure our work contributes to student success.

The goal of government is to deliver a first-class education that helps students reach their full potential. The One Bermuda Alliance Government promised great schools for great kids and the steps listed above are helping to bring this about.

I am committed to Education for the long haul and to making sure the system is managed with one goal in mind – student success.

This synopsis is just a brief overview of the important changes underway to make Bermuda’s public school system work better for students. Readers can find out much more on our website, www.moed.bm.

The future is bright and I expect improved academic performance in the years to come. But it will take the engagement of the entire community to give our children the best chance to succeed.

- Wayne Scott

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Comments (20)

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  1. Observer says:

    I stepped in to a public school … just the look of it told me there was a disengaged principal (who would let the facility look like that? plus the facility I was using didn’t even have enough resources to make it function properly… $100 at ‘The Barn’ would have solved the issue… it isn’t one of money!)

    It starts with leadership at the school level, and it seems there is some dead weight around those parts.

  2. Thin end says:

    This is an encouraging piece, especially giving precise steps being taken and that they are part of a medium-term (5 yr) plan.

    So much better than the earlier piece by the PLP stating:
    ~We didn’t know what to do
    ~We don’t know what to do
    ~We are going to wander around the island asking for ideas

    The future is looking brighter

  3. Islander says:

    I trust great emphasis will be placed on Special Needs children from Pre-School to High School with more ParaProfessionals more seriously structured Special Programs and allowing the Learning Disability students to be involved in all programs of the schools and in High School the basic fundaments of construction hair dressing computers and so forthm, include them in the regular PE Classes teaching them cricket, tennis, basketball – these children are awesome when given the opportunity to learn things outside of the restrictions placed upon them by MOED principals and teachers It is okay to give the excellent students and their parents accolades but lets also put emphasis on our special kids and the parents guardians who are standing with and pushing for excellence from MOED and our teaching professionals The other thing is let us send more students with Ms Zuill Ms Jones Mr Watts to the Summer Special Games next year this is another great experience that many of our kids are missing out on and something that the handicapped association can help with and other committees

  4. Sickofantz says:

    A really obvious initiative would be to examine the attendance record of the public schools and address that. I have friends who have taught in these schools who say they were lucky to get half the class in attendance.

    Instead of fining the parents of frequent truants they should list their names in the media. The truant and the parents.

  5. stunned... says:

    whatever happened with that plan with Dr. Lou Matthews etc…was that all talk and a waste of time…?

    • education civil servant says:

      The Education improvement plan mentioned in the statement is that ongoing plan.It IS what the Minister referred to.

      • education civil servant says:

        “An Education System Improvement Plan is in place to provide clear guidance to educators to strengthen student performance. In the past year, this plan has seen teachers undergo professional development in the areas of literacy, mathematics and inclusive and special education.” This is the plan Dr. Lou Matthews was leading.

  6. Quite interesting says:

    Wayne,
    You just got there and what you should do is study the game before trying to coach!

  7. Huh says:

    It appears to me that poor Mr. Scott has been spoon fed a crock of you-know-what by some of our dysfunctional (by well meaning),Civil Servants who have probably inhaled a bit too much jet fuel while dreaming about their next trip to Disneyworld. Based upon my knowledge of current public education, I would suggest he immediately undertake intensive unannounced assessment tours of all Govt. schools before he goes any further. I think he will find that much of what he has written is nowhere near the current reality and is simply mostly a bunch of platitudes.

  8. clearasmud says:

    These kind of articles are self serving at best and do nothing to foster confidence in the system. Mr Charles from the teachers union has far greater credibility than this new Minister and he compared the Governments committment to a 3rd world country so who do you think I believe?

    • jt says:

      I’m not going to disagree with that aspect of Mr. Charles’ depiction, even though it might well have a self serving angle, but do you think he could ever be expected to publicly provide a balanced and accurate view when it comes to teacher performance and ability?

      • clearasmud says:

        I don’t know but that isn’t what he was commenting on it’s the committment that I question. if the Premier really thought Education was important to our future (as he claims it is) he would have taken it on himself! Now that would have sent a very strong message!

        • hmmm says:

          Well, why won’t he comment on it?

          • jt says:

            Average cost per student in Canadian public schools $10k. In Bermuda over $20k. If it’s a third world commitment it’s not in the area of finances.

  9. Educated says:

    I have just listened to a few stories from a friend who works in the school system. Yes they come from private school and see so much challenges with some of the teachers who just collect a check. There are some good ones who care without fail. I have seen some are my friends and guess what we all share, we are Government employees so I know there are some really lazy workers I am surrounded by them daily. Therefore lets have a system in place where we hold them accountable.

  10. Smh says:

    “We are the only public school system in the world fully using the world renowned Cambridge curriculum. ”

    The way blatant lies are thrown into these speeches astounds me.

  11. Hello says:

    Y can’t one of those in the department just run it . We’re is Lew Simmons what is he doing. Dr G Tucker what is she doing. Lew Mathews what is he doing Is there no one fiwn thre that can sort out our mess

  12. Disa says:

    Question for Mr. Scott does he know how many home schools are on the island? Also, are all those running them qualified teachers?