Teachers Union Response To Throne Speech

November 16, 2016

The Bermuda Union of Teachers [BUT] has released their first brief in response to this year’s Throne Speech.

The Union said, “The BUT agrees with the statement ‘Allowing a child to move through the system without demonstrating the understanding of concepts or developing skills to acceptable levels ensures continuing academic struggle and more.’

“The Throne Speech states that ‘The Ministry will therefore end the practice of social promotion to ensure adequate development takes place before children are moved to another grade.”

“However, the Government’s proposal for addressing the challenge of student underachievement via the elimination of social promotion is poorly informed as their statement indicates an intention to implement a policy of retention in Bermuda’s Public Schools.”

“Extensive research has been done on the impact of retention and social promotion on student achievement. The research is both consistent and clear: neither social promotion nor retention has a positive impact on student achievement.

“In particular, retention consistently results in a negative impact on the academic and socio-emotional development of students, when compared to students with similar challenges who were promoted.”

The full response follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (17)

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  1. serengeti says:

    I agree with the BUT on this.

    • ReaLLyReally Bettty says:

      Thanks BUT…….Spot on….the research is correct!

  2. hmmm says:

    It is very simple you need 3 things:

    1) Teachers who are willing to teach and willing to be measured in terms of success and failure

    2) Students who are willing to learn and understand how important education is to opening up access to the world for them.

    3) Parents who are supporting 1) and 2) with time energy and positive reinforcement.

    If students fail it is because of a failure of the above.
    The Government can fix 1) but the union refuse to allow them.

    2) can be done through positive motivation and understanding programmes, but ultimately parents need to ensure their kids understand implications of success and failure.

    3) is down to parents getting the message and having the tools to help their children. I suggest classes being held by schools and govt to guide parents in methods to help their child achieve success.

    • hmmm says:

      So without teacher accountability, parent have to hold their childrens teachers accountable….If a child is not getting good grades or is struggling with topics, then parents have to go to the teachers and find out why form the teachers perspective and why from the childs perspective….then the parent has to take on advice form the teacher and work with the child to ensure the child gets it.

      Want a tip to see if your child understands something !
      Have you child teach you (you must have paitence here) the subject matter. They may not know instantly and have to refresh on material first. if they fail to teach you something after refreshing on the material, then they are not understanding something and then you help them understand the material. Follow up with quick checks in future (fun pop quizzes, not arduous challenges that drive them mad).

  3. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    It is and interesting read, basically they are say that wwe shouldn’t push children ahead when they are behind, and we shouldn’t keep them back when they aren’t keeping up… they then seem to to forward suggestions to address this dilemma, but then recognize that these suggestions are already underway.

    What is constantly over looked is that in order to help those that are struggling, there is in fact very little that any teaching institution can actually do if they are already trying to help that student, because the real effort must also be made at home. And decades worth of research shows that it doesn’t matter what that family structure is, traditional, same sex, single parent, grand parent… what is the only consistent factor in helping a child succeed is that there is strong family support. Without that support, the odds of the child succeeding are low, even in a top educational institution, and there is nothing that the government or BUT can do to truly address that issue. The trouble also comes is that those children that are falling behind becuase of a bad family environment in turn impacts other children around them and their ability to learn, even if those other children have all the right support. The remaining question is how do you address the issue of unsupportive parenting…?

  4. Terry says:

    So what are they (the Teachers/Union) offering.

    Just give em ‘B’ and let them go through the classes/grades and give em a piece a paper and say congratulations?

    We have great teachers and many not so great and it all begins at “HOME”.

    Small country and a lot of small minded people from all neighborhoods and backgrounds.

    It would help if “BUT” would get off their ‘BUTT’ and stop just doing a 8-4 job, getting paid very well and work half a year.

    BUT……………….I could be wrong.


  5. Not True says:

    We have kept children back at my school and it has worked very effectively and has been seamless. Retention should be used frequently in pre-school, primary school and less in middle school and should be without stigma. When it is clear that a child is struggling and that the gap between him/her will only continue to grow with social promotion you are doing that child a huge disservice by “promoting” them. Struggling with same aged children is not better than having the opportunity to master the work you did not grasp which retention provides. Schools need autonomy and fluidity in how they manage themselves and their students, their resources and the curriculum.

  6. Comfortably numb says:

    One of the many factors contributing to the appalling yer costly publici education system is the BUT itself. Everybody knows there are underperforming teachers in the public system who wouldn’t last a term in other schools but the BUT will defend them to the hilt instead of suggesting that another career choice would be a good idea. It’s no coincidence that the private schools, who consistently bring out the best in their charges and produce outstanding examination results, are not unionized.

  7. Not True says:

    Private schools cream off many of the most able children from the public school system at the end of the primary phase. They are selective even when they claim not to be. Many private school children are ‘edged out’ and return back into the public school system when they do not ‘fit’. Parents, even less well off ones bend over backwards to do what is required to meet the demands of private schools unlike in the public school system. Public schools take ALL children with a growing number of children who have special needs, behavioural issues, poor parenting, economic and social challenges. It is beyond ridiculous to keep comparing private schools to public schools. If you want to lay blame, start with inequality and significant economic disparities. The qualifications of teachers in private schools are no better than those in public schools and in fact it takes more skill and talent to teach children with challenges. Get a clue.

    • Comfortably numb says:

      Qualifications, by themselves, do not make a good teacher: one of the least efficient teachers I ever came across held a PhD.
      Are there excellent teachers in the public system? Absolutely!
      However there are also significant numbers of teachers in the public system who are mediocre. Handing out photocopied work sheets and then scrolling through messages on your cell phone is not teaching.
      Mr Charles, however, would defend those teachers without reserve: they do, after all, pay his substantial salary via their dues. They would get short shrift in the private system.
      The real irony is that a public school “education” costs significantly more than a private education.

  8. CPM says:

    The BUT is just an arm of the PLP
    They should stay out of politics and concentrate on the welfare of our children

  9. M.C. Beauchamp says:

    It is quite shameful that the Teachers union’s members do not take responsibility for the sad state of affairs. Teachers who can’t teach end up in the education ministry. This is a 100% Bermudian organization, tossing blame when they are responsible and have been all along.

    • bee says:

      i passed by a class at the COLLEGE and could not believe what i witnessed. students talking over the teacher, using their cell phones. wth? the teacher was trying to teach. but she couldn’t handle the class. one student even said “but i didn’t have time to do the assignment”. really? if i were in charge of the college “students” like that would be kicked out. and that’s at the college level – supposed to be there because you WANT to learn. i can’t even imagine the BS teachers in the high schools put up with.

  10. Joseph says:

    There are bigger issues at the root of our public school problems.
    We only have TWO public schools!! – at the high school level.
    This is a recipe for disaster that a bit of seasoning can’t change.
    Demand MORE Public schools!
    In the mean time Home School your children.
    Children are not ‘missing out’ on socialization if they avoid Berkely or Cedarbridge!
    Teachers; demand more money.

  11. PBanks says:

    Are students better off, education wise, now than they were back in the days of the 11-plus exam?

  12. Hey there says:

    But seriously…
    This is a nice approach from BUT, and they have put forward a booklet outlining how grade retention is bad, and most of us will agree. It has many negative implications on the students (both academically and socially).

    However these strategies for identifying the children who are falling behind, sound familiar to a report on Bermuda Public education in 2008, where they found “An unacceptably high proportion of teaching – nearly one lesson in four – is inadequate
    and there is little which is outstanding.” In addition “Little of the teaching observed was geared to the needs of individual learners, with the exception of programmes which withdraw children from their classes. Many classes contained individuals or small groups who had disengaged and who received little attention as long as they did not attract it.” (Hopkins et al. 2008)