Minister On Summer Learning Programmes

June 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Department of Education will be holding summer programmes for students to “help make up for the lost number of school days they have experienced during the past school year,” Minister of Education Diallo Rabain said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly, the Minister said, “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, with one of the major impacts being the loss of learning time. Although we could not make up days lost during this school year, students will be given opportunities to engage in online learning programmes and activities; and in some cases, in-person summer programmes, ranging from the preschool to the senior school level.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr Speaker, this morning I rise before you and my Honorable colleagues to share about the summer programmes that the Department of Education will be putting in place for our students to help make up for the lost number of school days they have experienced during the past school year.

Mr Speaker, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, with one of the major impacts being the loss of learning time. Although we could not make up days lost during this school year, students will be given opportunities to engage in online learning programmes and activities; and in some cases, in-person summer programmes, ranging from the preschool to the senior school level.

Mr Speaker, let me share about these opportunities for our students, starting with the Preschool I-Play Summer Boost Programme. I am pleased that The Reading Clinic has partnered with the Department of Education to extend learning into the summer for preschoolers who are transitioning into primary school. Seven of our public school preschools signed up to work with The Reading Clinic to have I-PLAY this year. I-PLAY refers to Interactive Phonological Literacy Activities for Youngsters. Normally the I-PLAY tutors would come into the preschool and screen all the preschoolers on pre-literacy skills, especially in the area of phonological processing. Phonological processing skills are those that are all about listening and sounds. Can children hear the difference in sounds in words and sentences? Can they hear the separate words in sentences? Are they able to notice rhyming words or words that begin with the same sounds? Phonological processing skills are a strong predictor of later reading success and it is more important for children to first be able to hear sounds than to identify letters.

Mr Speaker, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the I-PLAY tutors had limited access into these seven preschools. As a result, the programme was delayed. The Reading Clinic was only able to screen our preschoolers during the latter half of the school year, leaving no time for tutoring those children identified as needing help with gaining valuable pre-reading skills prior to entering primary school. Because of The Reading Clinic’s commitment to helping our preschoolers have the best start to primary school and learning to read, they have joined with the Department of Education in providing an in-person I-PLAY Summer Boost for our preschoolers.

The I-PLAY Summer Boost is offered to parents of those preschoolers who could benefit from a boost in literacy and extra support in phonological processing. The Summer Boost programme will be offered in four locations: Port Royal Primary, St. Paul’s Preschool, Lyceum Preschool and St. George’s Preschool, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm during the month of July.

The programme is, literacy-rich and play-based. All learning activities are centered around studying insects while being engaged in large group and small intensive tutoring groups to teach pre-literacy skills including those that target listening. The programme mirrors a typical preschool day. We thank Government Estates and Workforce Development for joining the Department of Education to provide this Summer Boost through the Reading Clinic to our preschoolers.

Mr Speaker, students at our Primary and Middle School levels will have access to online reading and math programmes throughout the summer. Many schools have subscriptions to online reading programmes for their students; programmes such as Literacy Footsteps and Raz-Kids. Students who attend Primary and Middle schools in the western zone of the island have access to the Achieve3000 reading programme. These online reading programmes are available 24/7 and can be accessed using most devices. These programmes will enable students to continue to read e-books and take quizzes. This is the same as they would normally do when in school. Students’ work, their efforts and progress will be automatically recorded as they engage in these reading programmes, and their teachers will able to access their results at the end of the summer.

Mr Speaker, for those students who do not have access to Literacy Footsteps, Raz-Kids, Achieve3000 and other online reading programmes offered by their schools, the Department is encouraging parents to subscribe to the Epic online reading programme, a free online reading programme that will give students access to hundreds of e-books and opportunities to take quizzes after they have finished reading the books. Parents can also share their children’s results with their school.

Mr Speaker, we want our students to spend time reading during the summer, and to engage with these online reading programmes. The Department wants children to read every day. The minimum expectation is for all students to read e-books for at least thirty minutes twice per week; and once they finish their e-book, to take the quiz, taking time to think about the questions carefully; to give careful answers with the aim of scoring a 4 out 5 on the quiz. We also encourage our students to take advantage of books offered at our local libraries.

Mr. Speaker, let me focus on mathematics. The Public School System is working to improve students, math knowledge and skills. I am pleased to report that we will offer an eight-week online math tutoring programme during July and August for all primary and middle school students. The programme will run every Tuesday and Thursday from July 6th to August 24th with specific times allocated for year level groupings of students.

Mr Speaker, this online programme is being developed and personalised for our primary and middle school students based on the end of year math assessment results which have been analysed to determine gaps in learning. Additionally, each teacher in the system will receive a gap analysis report for their class and every parent will also be provided with a report which indicates what their child has mastered, partially mastered or not mastered.

Parents will receive a schedule of when tutoring will be provided for specific topics. Students may sign-on for all tutoring sessions. However, we especially want parents to ensure that their children sign on for tutoring sessions that match their learning gap. After each session, students will be shown how to use their methodmaths account to practice the skill that has been demonstrated. They will receive instant feedback as they progress and all lessons will be recorded and shared on the Ministry’s website so that students can revisit them as part of any later revision.

Mr. Speaker, the tutoring sessions will focus on deeper conceptual understanding as well as procedural modelling, and international, expert Maths teachers will deliver these sessions. The engagement of math experts is possible because of the Department’s partnership with the UK based organisation, Primal Academic Innovations. Students will also have access to DreamBox during July and August.

Mr Speaker, the question is always asked what about our students who do not have access to the internet. The Department has planned for that. Students who cannot access online reading and math tutoring programmes will be provided with subject- specific learning packets for core subjects of reading, writing and mathematics. Schools will be asked to identify students who do not have online access. The parents of those students can contact the Department of Education and collect from the offices learning packets that children from P1 to M1 can complete during each week of the summer break. The packets that will be provided to students will have answer keys and this will enable students and parents to get immediate feedback on student progress with the learning activities they have completed.

Mr Speaker, in keeping with tradition, the Department of Education will offer its annual Summer School Programme at Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy during the month of July. The programme, which runs from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, is for students who attend DAME. There is also an after school programme which runs from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. While the programme is very much fun-based, the programme’s primary goal is for students to continue to work on their current Individualized Education Plan [IEP] goals and reinforce the skills they have mastered during the school year. Students will also participate in activities WindReach and they will continue to receive art and music therapy.

Mr Speaker, the summer programme at DAME is delivered by staff at DAME and other carefully selected applicants. The team for summer school also includes the school’s nurse and social worker. All staff who work at the summer programme must participate in a mandatory two-day orientation and planning and preparation session. This year, staff orientation will be on July 1st and 2nd as students are scheduled to commence on July 5th.

Mr. Speaker, the overarching outcomes for the summer programme at DAME are:

  • 1. 100% of students pursue a minimum of 2 IEP goals with 1 objective per goal
  • 2. 100% of students participate in a small group or individual adaptive PE sessions
  • 3. 100% of students participate in community-based activities at least once per week
  • 4. 100% of students receive a data-based progress report at the end of the programme

Mr Speaker, STEAM Academy is offered every summer. Students from Primary 4 to M3 have an opportunity to register for the Department of Education’s virtual STEAM Academy this summer, with the theme ‘Pandemic Vibes – Making the Shift’. This year’s STEAM Academy will provide an amazing outlet for students who have been extremely resilient through this Covid-19 experience. The annual programme, operated by the Gifted and Talented Education [GATE] Programme, will be delivered remotely from July 5th to 28th at the cost of $65 per week.

Using online tools, students will engage in remote learning classes from 10 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. With a focus on project-based learning, students will create a collaborative motion picture, from script to screen, reflecting their Covid-19 experience. They will be writing scripts, composing music, creating visual animations in 2D and 3D, and ultimately, producing a collaborative motion picture.

Mr Speaker, students at the Steam Academy will once again have the opportunity to participate in activities offered by AH! TEMPO and Digibotics to provide a comprehensive array of opportunities for students interested in STEAM. AH! TEMPO, under the directorship of local Music Director, Mrs Malinda Jennings and a team of local experts in the Visual and Performing Arts will immerse P4 to M3 students in the multi-facets of dramatic and vocal performance and musical composition. Hosted by Mr Neville Zuill and his team, DIGIBOTICS will immerse P5 to M3 students in 21st Century learning experiences that develop digital content creation skills. The team will work with students as they create 2D and 3D masterpieces while exploring the world of stop motion animation and digital effects.

Student applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Interested parents can register their children by completing the online registration form at: . Parents are encouraged to register their children quickly as this is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate their skills, their talent and be creative while increasing their knowledge and learning to work together as a team.

Mr Speaker, the Department will also be providing summer school for students in the Primary and Middle School functional skills classes and for students in functional academics classes at the Middle School level. The Programme will run from July 5th to 28th, with a daily schedule from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. The morning classes will focus on academics connected to students IEP goals and objectives and curriculum content in Math, English and Science for the functional academic students. The afternoon classes will focus on life skills, physical, social and health sessions. An adaptive PE teacher will also work with students on their IEP goals.

Students will participate in field trips to Wind reach, Tulo Valley Plant Nursery and Kaleidoscope.

Mr Speaker, at the senior school level, the two senior schools will provide a summer school program for credit recovery and skills improvement. Students enrolled in the programmes will include those who have previously taken a course and failed or those who have passed the course and who want to improve their grade.

Mr Speaker, the schools will deliver the programmes for English, mathematics, social studies, science, and foreign languages using a remote learning platform. There will be opportunities for selected students to attend in-person classes. The summer program will run from July 5th until July 27th with morning and afternoon sessions held from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm respectively. The programme will also afford students an opportunity for independent practice daily and teachers will be available to provide students with additional support, as necessary. Both schools will facilitate their respective summer school programmes independently; however, teachers will collaborate through common planning to ensure equitable delivery and common assessments.

Mr Speaker, there will be in-person accommodations for students without devices and for learning support students.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, we will be using some of our newly donated Chromebooks during the summer months. I am pleased to report that we have teachers from 5 primary schools and 1 middle school piloting the use of Chromebooks with approximately 200 students:

  • 2 classes at Francis Patton Primary School
  • 2 Classes at Harrington Sound Primary School
  • 2 Classes at Heron Bay Primary
  • 3 Classes at Purvis Primary
  • 2 Classes at St. George’s Preparatory
  • All M1 Students at Whitney Institute Middle School

An orientation meeting has already been held with the teachers taking part in the programme to provide:

  • Pilot programme overview
  • Goals for the pilot
  • Pilot expectations [minimum lessons, surveys]
  • Communication protocol within the group
  • Overview of Chromebooks
  • Support channels that will be available

The piloting of the Chromebooks is well underway at these respective schools.

Thank You, Mr. Speaker.

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