Video: Public Schools Exam, Graduation Results

October 30, 2014

[Updated with video] 227 students graduated in 2014 with a Bermuda School Diploma [BSD] by attaining the minimum required GPA of 2.0, or higher, Minister of Education and Economic Development Dr. Grant Gibbons said today [Oct 30].

Dr. Gibbons, along with Acting Commissioner of Education, Dr. Lou Matthews, was speaking at a press conference held about the 2014 Bermuda Public Schools Examination and Graduation results.

37 minute video of the entire press conference:

“Additionally, this is the first year that all students were also required to have passed three IGCSEs in the core subjects English, Mathematics and Science to graduate,” Dr. Gibbon said.

“The 227 students represented 88% of the students who entered the S1 Cohort in 2010 and 95% of the BSD students who entered the S4 Cohort. Of the 227 graduates, 77 are male and 150 are female.

“Eight students graduated with distinction achieving a GPA of 3.67 and above; while 18 graduates were awarded honours having achieved a GPA between 3.32 and 3.67.”

Slideshow from today’s press conference, click to move to next slide:

Minister Gibbons full statement follows below:

Good Afternoon Everyone and thank you for coming.

I have with me today the Acting Permanent Secretary of Education Mrs. Valerie Robinson-James, the Acting Commissioner of Education, Dr. Lou Matthews and the Director of Academic Services, Dr. Llewellyn Simmons to share the 2014 graduation and external exam results for the Department of Education.

However, before I provide you with the results I want to emphasize that the Bermuda Public Education System is undergoing dynamic change; change that involves positive and systemic transformation strategies for teaching and leadership of our schools.

It is our goal to deliver a first class education of global standards so that all of our children can reach their full potential. Transformation of Education is a continuous process involving the Ministry, the Department, schools, educators, parents and the larger community.

This afternoon we will present the 2014 graduation and external exam results which are a clear indicator of the academic progress achieved since the introduction of the Cambridge curriculum. The results show that the graduation rate remains high, and there is a notable increase in the number of external exam certifications being awarded.

While overall we are seeing improvement on the Cambridge Checkpoint Exams, there are areas where further work is clearly required. The results will assist the Department and schools in making informed decisions about what efforts should be reinforced and where changes should be made directly for improved student achievement.

The presentation will comprise four main areas of the 2014 school exam results, namely the:

  • 1. Senior Students Graduation Results;
  • 2. IGCSE, GCSE and AS Level results;
  • 3. Cambridge Checkpoint Scores for Middle Schools (M3); and,
  • 4. Cambridge Checkpoint Scores for Primary Schools (P6).

Let me first start with the 2014 Senior School Graduation Results.

The Ministry is pleased to report that 227 students graduated in 2014 with a Bermuda School Diploma (BSD) by attaining the minimum required GPA of 2.0, or higher. Additionally, this is the first year that all students were also required to have passed three IGCSEs in the core subjects English, Mathematics and Science to graduate. The 227 students represented 88% of the students who entered the S1 Cohort in 2010 and 95% of the BSD students who entered the S4 Cohort. Of the 227 graduates, 77 are male and 150 are female.

Eight (8) students graduated with distinction achieving a GPA of 3.67 and above; while 18 graduates were awarded honours having achieved a GPA between 3.32 and 3.67.

The two Seniors Schools have provided continuous support and resources for senior students with learning challenges to afford them the opportunity to leave senior school with a sense of accomplishment and achievement. In this regard, a total of 15 students completed the Functional Academics Programme and received a certificate of achievement.

Similarly, three (3) students with significant cognitive exceptionalities completed the Functional Skills Programme and were awarded a certificate of completion. Also, 18 students completed the Alternative Education Programme which provided students with a school equivalency diploma such as a General Educational Development Certificate or GED.

Now I will move on to the 2014 external exam results.

During the 2013/14 school year a total of 1,522 external exams (IGCSE, GCSE and AS Levels) were taken in an array of subjects that included English, Mathematics, Science, Foreign Language, Visual and Performing Arts, Business & Technology, Physical Education and Family Studies.

More specifically, the 2013/14 school year marked the third year of administering system-wide IGCSE exams in the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science at both senior schools for S2 students, and selected students from the middle school level.

In alignment with the Blueprint, the goal of the Ministry was to ensure that at least 80% of students sitting the examinations achieved IGCSE passes. This targeted measure was exceeded with 89% IGCSE passes, that is a grade of A to G, awarded in 2014.

The majority of our students were successful in passing the core subjects as there was:

  • a 98% pass rate of A to G or 369 students achieving the English IGCSE;
  • a 77% pass rate or 412 students awarded the Mathematics ICGSE; and,
  • an 89% pass rate or 419 students successfully obtaining a Science IGCSE.

Across all three subjects, just over 300 students received an IGCSE Grade of A to C which represented a 30% success rate. After assessing our system-wide results the number of IGCSEs awarded with a grade of A to C was higher in 2014 in the core subjects English and Science.

However there was a slight dip in the number of IGCSEs awarded in Mathematics with a grade of A to C. Nonetheless, I am pleased to say that this reflects a general improvement overall in student performance at the IGCSE level.

Students made good progress in the achievement of Advanced Studies or AS exams compared to 2013. A total of 65 exams were sat in the subjects English, Mathematics, Biology and Media Studies. There was a 57% overall pass rate of grades A to G. Twenty-eight (28) students sat the AS Examination in English with 61% receiving a grade of C or better.

Twenty-one (21) students sat AS Mathematics while 14 and two students sat AS Biology and AS Media Studies, respectively.

Next I will report on the Cambridge Checkpoints for the Middle and Primary School levels.

We are making steady and good progress in administering the Cambridge Curriculum in the Bermuda Public School System. This was our third year of administering the Cambridge International Examinations at the Primary 6, Middle 3, and Senior School years in the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science.

It is important to keep in mind that the Cambridge Checkpoint examinations at the P6 and M3 levels are used as indicators of student performance as they progress through the system towards the ultimate goal which is to sit IGCSE exams at the S2 level.

Therefore, the results of the Checkpoints will guide schools’ attention to areas of strengths and weaknesses for P6 and M3 students, to support their IGCSE success when they reach the senior level. In essence the results of the Cambridge Checkpoints are diagnostic and allow for pointed academic support and interventions for student learning.

When we review the results of the Checkpoints at the middle school level, a total of 353 students across all five middle schools sat a combination of checkpoint examinations in English, Mathematics and Science during April 2014.

A Cambridge Checkpoint score of 2.0 indicates the student has a basic understanding of the curriculum content, while a 3.0 score, which is the Department of Education’s target score, denotes a sound understanding of the curriculum content.

The results show that students demonstrated a sound understanding of the Cambridge curriculum in Science with an average score of 3.0. However, significant improvement is required in English and Mathematics where average scores of 2.2 and 2.6 were reported. Overall, the results indicate clear improvement in the percentage of students scoring 3.0 and above in Math and Science with some weakening in English.

Each year we remind our key stakeholders that the Bermuda Public School System is the only public school system that sits the Cambridge Exams. Other international education systems that use the Cambridge Curriculum select their students. Hence, it is within this context that we should interpret the Cambridge scores achieved for our schools.

Generally, the results of the Bermuda Middle School Checkpoints when compared with overall Cambridge International average scores revealed that there is still much work to be done at the middle school level.

The Ministry recognizes this and has already begun the process of improving the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom in middle schools. You may recall back in July 2014 when I announced the implementation of the Middle School Transformation Plan.

The Plan is specifically designed to provide focused professional development on creating active, rigorous and engaged learning experiences for all teachers and leaders. This will ensure that our students have the needed academic interventions to support their learning.

The Cambridge Checkpoint Exams are one means of providing key data needed to evaluate and monitor the progress of the Middle School Transformation Plan.
On the other hand, the results of the Primary School Cambridge Checkpoints placed our primary school students at a higher level.

The P6 results indicated that students demonstrated good competencies in English and Science with average scores yielding 3.5. The average score for Mathematics was lower at 2.6.

All eighteen (18) Primary Schools participated in the Cambridge Checkpoint exams. A total 383 students sat the English, Mathematics and Science exams.
Primary P6 students are performing well in English. Sixteen of the 18 primary schools achieved average scores above 3.0. The remaining two schools scored 2.7 and 2.9. The results for Science are comparable with 17 out of the 18 primary schools achieving scores above 3.0.

These results are certainly encouraging and reflect a commendable performance by both teachers and students.

Disappointingly, the scores for Mathematics fell below the 3.0 target level for all except three Primary Schools. There was also a drop in the overall percentage of students scoring above 3.0. These results clearly show that greater emphasis must be placed on Mathematics at the primary level.

Moving forward, the Ministry has committed to the implementation of a system-wide National Mathematics Strategy that has been designed to provide a strategic three-year plan to improve the mathematics outcomes of our public school students by the year 2017.

This will be done through the transformation of learning and teaching in our schools that will entail:

  • 1. Ensuring teachers utilize a common framework for teaching mathematics
  • 2. Ensuring all students have access to mathematics interventions for improving student outcomes
  • 3. Encouraging opportunities for rigorous learning in the classroom
  • 4. Identifying mandated texts, resources and intervention to guide mathematics learning in schools

Additionally, the Mathematics Strategy will include professional training in mathematics content, teaching methods, and coaching for all teachers, teacher leaders, principals and department instructional support personnel.

In closing, I want to leave our key stakeholders with a picture that the results of the graduation and student examination data show that our public education system has begun transformation; and yet there are still critical areas in mathematics and English that need greater improvement. This is important if we envision delivering a first class education system of global standards for all children.

Our forward focus on national strategies for Literacy and Mathematics will work to provide stronger support for high quality teaching which we know will allow us to build on the results that have been presented here. Our focus on early childhood education will strengthen the support for students in the primary years and we will continue to build capacity among school and Department leaders.

Let me close by saying that all of us in the Ministry and Department are committed to make transformation a reality for the Bermuda Public School System.

The Acting Commissioner of Education, Dr. Lou Matthews will now provide some of the detail behind the examination data as highlighted in the slides shown.

Thank You.


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Articles that link to this one:

  1. PLP On Public School Education Exam Results - : | November 3, 2014
  1. Bermewjan says:

    When I was at school “passing” was considered to be a grade C or above. Using that measure for review, the graph on slide 5 tells me that less than 50% passed in English, less than 20% passed in Math (!?!), and even less than that passed in Science! Given that marking seems to be more lenient these days, I am left with my jaw on the floor that our young people are leaving school with such a horrendously poor education. This is just terrible!!!

  2. Bermewjan says:

    I thought the GPA quoted was out of 4.0, like US Universities. Turns out, it is out of 6.0… (look at the rest of the slides) and students with a 2.0 are considered to be passing!?! We are not helping our students by letting them believe that this is ok! It’s not! The workplace isn’t going to say it’s okay to under achieve, we’ll just lower the bar! Shame on you, whoever came up with this ridiculous measure for passing! This is just nuts! No wonder my fellow Bermudians can’t figure out why they are not able to break into the higher level roles in our economy! We are effectively telling them it is okay not to strive. Do what you want and we will just lower the bar and tell you and your family and friends you have passed anyway!! Then they can’t get a decent job! No wonder they are angry! We are telling them that they aren’t good enough after years of us telling them they are doing just fine in our under measuring method of educational assessments. Ludicrous!

    • Varied says:

      I was a little confused by that as well – unless the 6.0 scale only related to middle schools.

      The initial graduation numbers looked promising, but there seems to be still some vagueness in the numbers.

  3. Meeee says:

    That balance of 77 male graduates to 150 female graduates is scary. It indicates a past and present problem. It portends troubles to come.

  4. Your joking says:

    So 55.3% failed English….82.5% failed Math….since A-C is considered pass….and that doesn’t include the kids that didn’t take the exam……and we wonder why young adults are not getting hired????? Bermuda’s biggest export should be educated young adults looking for world experience to bring home. UBP PLP OBA have all failed or are failing….and all we hear time and again is the Education system is being restructured ….It is simple…teach English and Mathematics until every kid is fluent in both and they will be better at succeeding in life. (Threaten Summer holiday take away if need be ..And knock on the door of families who’s kids are stuggling)…..You can’t possible tell me we can’t educate a population of 65,000.

    • Ringmaster says:

      With respect, your figure of 65,000 is way too high. Take off those below 16 years old, those above 20, expats, retired and that leaves around 2,000? Appalling numbers. Bermuda should be amongst the top 5 or 10 in the world for education.

      • Your joking says:

        Yes you are correct….except this has been going on for generation ….so way more than 2000

  5. J says:

    I blame the parents…

  6. SIR KEN ROBINSON – an Education reform giant ! (The most watched TED talk of all time) (this is brilliant as the teacher for Paul McCartney & George Harrison did not see their talent)

    The most watched TED TALKS
    When I asked the former Minister of Education of Bermuda about TED TALKS ….he said “WHAT’S TED” ?
    I was quite frankly astounded….. But WHY I am I not surprised……


    PLUS look at our blog !

    Seems to me when I try to “Enlighten” the powers that be in Education in Bermuda…..they show no interest in change 
    Bureaucracy is the SLOTH to progress….
    Google FINLAND – and the way they revolutionized education in that country !!
    But here is a link !

  7. Double Standards says:

    What’s going on with our young males in the public school system? What happens to the ones that didn’t pass? Are they simply allowed to graduate without acquiring a basic education? If that’s the truth that will benefit no one in our society!

    We have all got to do better!

    • Double Standards says:

      Only 30% or 90 out of 300 students received an A-C grade. Well at least that’s somewhat of an improvement on the 28% reported for the last 2 years:(

  8. Just Saying?!! says:

    Hello OBA,

    Please privatize the high school system.

    Pay the existing private schools to teach the students and close those two public high schools.
    With growing student enrollment in the private school, have the government teachers in the high schools apply to for work at the Private Schools.

    Make Berkely a Trade School(for those who are not into academics) and give Cedarbridge to the Police so they can stop paying rent everywhere!!

  9. get serious says:

    The results are reflective of the quality of instruction. The tired solution of restructuring doesn’t address this. Get rid of beauracracy and consolidate schools. Each school have a powerful board of 3 persond who can fire and hire. Clearly Dr Lou Matthews has shown no talent in improving math or accountabilty. And he’s had 6 years to do that. All talk he is. Joker.

  10. Rhonda says:

    I have not idea why every public school students must take an exam knowing they are not equipped to pass.

    I have always been in favor of the 11 plus exam, or something similar. And a separations of trade & scholastic systems of learning. This all levels of learning in one class has been tried, and proven to be a failure, what is the delay in changing.

    • Sickofantz says:

      The trouble is Rhonda that their just aren’t the trade jobs anymore. (Believe me my father is a farmer and the technology in driving a tractor or working in agriculture these days is extraordinary). I disagree with giving up on kids at 11. Families must get behind their kids and realise that the most precious thing a child can have is an education.

  11. Apples and Oranges- Same Tree says:

    Good day……..

    Apples……Public Schools: 18 year olds- 3 GCSE- You are a star!!

    Oranges….Private Schools: 16 year olds- <5 GSCE-Sorry see you later!!

    Tree- Bermuda

    Shame on those Private Schools!! where is your Bermudian Spirit!!

  12. Homo Sapien says:

    Here are the Bermuda state school 2014 figures compared with the published UK national figures for 2014(

    UK Bermuda

    English A-C 61% 45%
    Maths A-C 62% 17.5%
    Science A-C 90% 17%

    • Sickofantz says:

      How can International Business be expected to employ Bermudians when only 17.5% (of those entered for the exam) pass it? Basic mathematic ability is a prerequisite in being employed in International Business.

  13. compelled to write says:

    The problem here is not simply the schools or the teachers or the parents… it goes much deeper. This is a cultural problem that we have in Bermuda. Any culture is defined by the prevalent set of values and behaviours in any group… Our collective culture does not Value education, or smart people, it values personality or tribe (political persuasion or religious persuasion) over the strength of ideas. Until this changes, and the persons with the most to gain from a good education realise it (value it) this will continue.

    • Bermewjan says:

      Sadly, I completely agree. What an awful state of affairs we have gotten ourselves into!