Video: Signature Schools Press Conference

May 19, 2021 | 1 Comment

[Updated] Minister of Education Diallo Rabain is holding a press conference this morning [May 19] to discuss the signatures for the first two signature schools as well as other topics, with the Minister joined by Chairperson of the Berkeley Board Craig Bridgewater  and Chairperson of the Cedarbridge Board Jason Wade. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 46-minute replay is below

Update 12.30pm: Minister Rabain’s remarks:

Good Morning and Welcome,

This morning I will provide an update on the following topics:

  • The Chromebooks donated by the Hasso Plattner Foundation
  • The Implementation of the Saliva Screening Initiative in Schools
  • The Signature School Engagement Process

Hasso Plattner Foundation Donation

In July 2020, we were pleased to announce that the Hasso Plattner Foundation had donated $500,000 to the Ministry of Education to purchase Chromebooks for the Bermuda Public School System. One thousand, six hundred and one [1,601] Chromebooks were ordered in August 2020, with an expected delivery of October 2020. Due to issues beyond our control and directly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, the delivery of these Chromebooks was delayed numerous times. Finally, during the week of April 26th 2021 the Chromebooks arrived on Island and were cleared by Bermuda HMS Customs.

The Chromebooks have been counted for accuracy of units and we can confirm that the number ordered matches the number received. Also the configuration of all the Chromebooks has been carried out by the Department of Education’s IT Section. The Chromebooks are designated for students only at the primary school level.

However, every student at the preschool, primary and middle level is now equipped with login in credentials which will enable them to access our remote learning and in-person learning platforms available from anywhere and during anytime.

Our enterprise learning platforms consist of PowerSchool, Schoology and G-Suite which are used to support digital content and blended learning. Blended learning, which is not to be confused with hybrid learning, is a method of teaching that integrates digital technology with more traditional face to face methods. Best practices of blended learning do not depend on a specific device or software or website.

In anticipation of receiving these Chromebooks, two pilot programmes were launched at the Primary School level in November 2020.

The aim of the pilot programmes was to test the methodology of blended learning, assisted with technology, to determine strengths and weaknesses in lesson delivery. The pilot will be expanded during May and June to include an additional seven teachers at the primary and middle levels. We will carry out an assessment of the pilot programmes at the end of this term and use the lessons learned for the teacher training sessions that will take place in July.

We are very pleased that thirty [30] teachers from the primary and middle levels will participate in the summer training. This teacher training will address leveraging digital technologies [hardware and software] for the classroom using blended learning. The Department of Education uses the train the trainer model and this will mean that teachers who participate in the training will assist with the training of other teachers at the primary and middle levels of the Bermuda Public School System in the upcoming school year.

The Department of Education is now in the midst of organizing summer programmes for students which will integrate the use of Chromebooks and in September 2021, will commence with the rollout of the devices.

This rollout will start with upper primary students – P4, P5 and P6 – with the goal of having a device in every student’s hand.

As we train and develop our teachers; and monitor the use of the devices in classrooms, we will use what we learn to improve the roll out for additional classrooms.

Saliva Screening in Schools

As previously announced, in addition to our COVID-19 entry and exit school protocol guidelines, a self-administered saliva screening programme will be launched in our schools commencing next week. . This programme involves the weekly screening of one quarter or 25% of the school population.

The saliva screening process is self-administered and a non-invasive method that will help keep our schools safe and open to learning. Once a week, a quarter or 25% of the school population will deposit a saliva sample in a tube; they will seal that tube and place it in a bag. The bag will be sealed and then taken to the Government’s Molecular Diagnostic Lab to be tested. All negative results for students will be emailed to their parents. In the event of a positive case, the result will be sent to the child’s physician, and the Department of Health will contact the parents.

Students will not participate in the saliva testing programme without the consent of their parents. Last week parents were emailed an information letter explaining the saliva testing regime process and how it is self-adminsitered. A link to a consent form was also sent for parents to complete if they wanted their child to participate in the programme. The parental consent form will be kept on file at each of the schools. As of Sunday, May 16th, our Private Schools had a submission rate of over 90% parental consent forms. Public schools had reached a rate of around 31% by Monday, May 17th. As a result, the portal was reopened until 5 pm today for public school parents to submit their consent forms..

I am appealing to our parents to log on and fill out the consent form to help keep our schools safe and keep them open for continuous learning.

The saliva testing programme will enable us to be proactive with asymptomatic testing and to add another layer of protection for our students and school staff, against COVID-19.

This will also help to identify students and isolate them quicker in their homes. Once again I ask our parents to please consider granting parental consent for this non-invasive saliva screening process. This will help to keep all schools open and safe for continuous learning until the end of the school term in June.

I will now speak to:

Signature Learning Programmes For Our Senior Schools

Today I am pleased to announce a further significant step forward in the reform of education in Bermuda: the list of Signatures used to select the Signature Learning Programmes for our first two signature schools. And I am delighted to be joined at this press conference by the Chairmen of the Boards of Governors for our two senior schools: Mr Jason Wade JP, MP, the Chair of the Board at CedarBridge Academy; and Mr Craig Bridgewater, the Chair of the Board at The Berkeley Institute.

But let me begin by reminding you of why we are introducing Signature Learning Programmes at the Senior School Level – the introduction of which was legislated for in the Education Amendment Act passed at the end of March.

We want all our young people to be great members of their families, communities, and nation. We want each and every young person to have the skills, knowledge, and relationships so that they can access and succeed in the opportunities and occupations of the future. We want each of them to be able to follow their passions, build on their talents, and achieve their career and further education aspirations. So each of our senior schools will have two signatures – signatures based on sectors of the economy or society and cover a wide range of occupations.

In each senior school, for each senior school student, their signature learning programmes will consist of modules on relevant academic subjects, appropriate practical skills training, individual and group projects focused on real-world issues and challenges, internships and meaningful work placements, effective guidance on careers and further education and relevant accreditation.

A student’s signature learning programmes will take up about 30% of their time while following the core curriculum of English, Math, Social Studies, and Science. They will further develop the foundational skills that are critical to life and work in the 21st century:

  • critical thinking and problem-solving;
  • creativity and communication;
  • collaboration and team working.

Throughout April, there was broad engagement with teachers, students, parents, employers and the wider public regarding what the signatures should be. Many of the comments made during the engagement expressed enthusiasm and support for introducing Signature Learning Programmes. Several major employers signalled their interest in helping develop signatures relevant to them. I am very appreciative of all the responses we received, and I am particularly grateful to the Boards and Leadership teams of both CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute for the positive and productive relationship we have had over the past few weeks. Collectively, all this has helped me arrive at the final list:

  • 1. STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. In our original proposal, this was also to include A for agriculture, but several of the feedback we received suggested that agriculture would fit better with…
  • 2. Climate, environment and resources, a sector of many challenges and opportunities which will be essential to Bermuda’s future
  • 3. Health and social care, which will include mental as well as physical health.
  • 4. Community and Social Investment. In our original proposal, this was called ‘community safety and social justice. Feedback suggested we should refocus this on our assets rather than our deficits.
  • 5. Arts and Culture, renamed from ‘The Arts’ to give emphasis to the cultural industries which are forecast to be a major growth sector with a wide range of new occupations
  • 6. Education Services conscious of our need to build a high-quality workforce to sustain our education reform and enhance the status of the teaching profession
  • 7. Sports and Leisure Management We have added ‘management’ to give emphasis to the range of occupations available in the sports and leisure sector
  • 8. Financial and Insurance Services, as we all know a key sector of Bermuda’s economy
  • 9. Hospitality and Tourism, another key sector of our economy
  • 10. Building Construction and Maintenance: Trades and Professions We are still thinking about the exact title for this signature so that it reflects the full range of occupations in this sector and demonstrates that, like all the other signatures, it will be both academic and vocational

Our original list of signatures included ‘entrepreneurship’. However, through the engagement process, we have been persuaded that entrepreneurship should be part of all the signature learning programmes rather than this be a stand-alone signature.

We also received a number of suggestions for other signatures. After careful consideration, we believe that all these alternatives can be accommodated within the signatures that I have announced or within the redesigned core curriculum.

Over the last two weeks, we have had intensive conversations with the Boards and Principals of both CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute. I would now like to invite Chairman Wade and Chairman Bridgewater to say a few words about that process that has brought us to the decisions we are discussing today.

As I said at the beginning of my remarks, this is a significant milestone in the reform of education in Bermuda, a further manifestation of this Government’s commitment. The next step will be for Learning First to work with CedarBridge and Berkeley to recruit and induct the school transformation teams that will develop the signature learning programmes for the school year 2022/23. If you are interested in joining these teams, then do email us at schoolredesign@moed.bm

Bermuda, Each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Follow Public Health guidelines, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance and download the WeHealth Bermuda app. Do the research, talk with your doctor and make an informed decision about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Thank You

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    Can one of the signature courses teach English, as opposed to American, spelling please?

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