Shadow Education Minister On Middle Schools

November 21, 2018 | 10 Comments

The Minister of Education’s “decision to finally conduct proper research into the future of middle schools was made only after blow-back from professionals working in the education industry,” according to Cole Simons.

The Shadow Education Minister said that since the PLP announced the phasing out of middle schools and the introduction of signature schools the Ministry has “faced headwinds and blow-back.”

Mr Simons said, “Now 18 months on, the Minister has indicated he is going to do more research on this initiative so that he can get the best outcome for our students. Surely, this decision should have been made before his first initial announcement in early 2017?

“The Minister is obviously placing the cart before the horse in that he is just beginning to listen to the community and is finally doing his research so that he can get the best outcome.

“However, I believe the truth is that real blow back from the professionals working within our educational industry was a real awakening for the Minister. Members of his own team within the Ministry of Education, the President of Bermuda College, principals, chairpersons of various school boards, member of the Board of Education, parents, senior representatives of the Bermuda Union of Teachers have all told the Minister that any structural change made must be supported by real empirical evidence that demonstrates that structural changes will provide improved student performance and output across the board.

“As was stated previously by educational titans like Peter Cookson, senior researcher at the Washington based Learning Policy Institute and the sociology professor at the prestigious Georgetown University in Washington, “statistics must support a change in the education system”. He went on to correctly state that he “would vote for hard data to support decisions of this magnitude”.

“He went on to further state that data is essential for making strategic changes. Political will and anecdotal evidence is not good enough.

“Dr. Phyllis Curtis Tweed, Vice President of Academic Studies at the Bermuda College, and a former principal of the Berkeley Institute, also questioned whether the move to axe Bermuda’s middle schools was in the best interest of Bermuda. Like me, she questioned how the PLP Government’s decision to phase out middle schools in favour of signature schools has been made at the senior level. She goes on to also ask “what data have we used to look at our Island?”

“Almost all of the leading stakeholders of education in Bermuda have repeatedly told the Minister that no structural changes will address the real challenge faced in Bermuda’s education system – and that is social promotion.

“The Minister must bring this practice to a halt. The community has told the Minister time and time again that even though some of our students are performing well, many others are struggling because they have not mastered the fundamentals.

“There are students leaving primary schools and entering middle schools with P3 reading and math skills, and as a consequence are ill-prepared for entrance into middle schools. Likewise, there are students entering senior schools with reading and math skills levels of M1 standards.

“This has caused a real strain on our middle and senior schools as teachers are providing additional support and time in bringing these students up to grade level before they begin to effectively make strides in actually learning the material required.

“It is now incumbent upon the Minister and new Commissioner of Education to listen and learn from the educational stakeholders and professionals which surround and support them and craft a more productive way forward. Bermuda deserves nothing less and it will take real leadership from the Minister and his team.”

We asked the Ministry of Education for comment last night and will update as able.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Slipnut says:

    More around table meetings, more research and less productive. 5/8” of our problems doesn’t stem from the School system. It has nothing to do the curriculum or the physical buildings. Until we learn that kids are not pawns and Schools are not day care centers things will not improve. We need to listen to our Teachers they spend the most time with our children. We have some serious challenges going on in the family environment. Your children suffer day and night because of your actions.

  2. 2 Bermudas says:

    Don’t worry, schools all have Wi-Fi and we are going to teach our kids to raise chickens. This combined with a daily intake of titty milk will get them prepared for Harvard!! Ha ha ha!!

    • Nothing wrong with raising chickens, we are short on bananas and lettuce already.

      • west pembroke says:

        You could learn a lot from a chicken.

      • Hey says:

        So the PLP are full of hot air on schools, making proclamations on something they know nothing about. You and I know that their whole intention was to use the middle schools as an emotion stirring vote grabbing tool. Backfired on them, the PLP are clueless.

        They proved this by identifying that their previous changing of education was a failure, as they want to do it right this time, Unfortunately there is no evidence backing benefits of their proposal. PLP are all about what is best for them, not Bermudians.

        They are failing across the board, making Bermuda more expensive for Bermudians.

        • JR says:

          If you recall the middle school/ mega school concept was implemented in the fall of 1997 with the first graduating class being 1998. If you want to really look at who’s responsible for the change in the education system look at the UBP that was in power at the time. They had the bright idea to do away with all the high schools and group everyone into two big schools. In my opinion, that was one of the decisions that has caused this whole gang issue to fester and grow to what it is today. Secondly, the fact that in this education system there is no pass or fail until high school is an absolute joke. Students get to the high school level and don’t understand that they actually have to produce work and grades in order to move onto the next year level. The idea that we don’t hold students accountable in the early years, only makes it harder when they get to my level in the high schools.

  3. FYI says:

    Amen, Amen, Amen!! The truth has finally been revealed. Get rid of social promotion and hold us all accountable…not just the educators but students and parents, too. We all must raise the standard in education. It will take a village.

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