West End & St David’s Schools To Remain Open

May 1, 2024 | 11 Comments

[Updated] Minister Diallo Rabain is holding a press conference today [May 1] where he is expected to make an announcement about arish Primary Schools. We will have additional information later on, and you can tune in and watch live below.

Update: The Minister announced that West End Primary School and St David’s Primary School will both remain open.

schools open may 1 2024

Update: Premier & Minister of Finance David Burt said, “Good afternoon. I am pleased to join my colleagues, the Minister of Education Diallo Rabain and the Minister of Youth, Social Development & Seniors and area MP Tinee Furbert, as well as the MP for St. David’s, Ms. Lovitta Foggo.

“As a father who has trusted the public school system with the education of my children, I know first-hand the importance of education reform to Bermudian families. Whether knocking on doors, at public meetings, or in encounters at community events, people share with me the same hopes and desires for an education system that provides the best teaching and learning experience for their children and grandchildren that I want for my own.

“The days when governments went off and made decisions without involving the people impacted has passed and the thoughts and feelings of the people we serve must be a part of all that we do. That is what this Government has demonstrated over the last 7 years, and will continue to demonstrate in the future.

“Our decisions announced today have been made in the best interests of the communities these schools serve, having heard directly from parents, guardians and interested residents, and members of the Government backbench.

“You spoke, we listened, and an outcome that we feel is in the best interest of all of Bermuda’s students – current and in the future – has been reached and agreed by Cabinet.

“While the delivery of education reform is complex, this has been a collaborative process from the start, and we thank everyone who helped us to reach these decisions and all those who will be a part of future decisions.

“The beauty of our tiny island is that our elected representatives are close to us. We grew up together, we worship together, our children play sports together and we often shop at the same time, all of which affords a unique opportunity for anyone to share a point of view with their MP or a Senator. That is something we as your representatives never forget and we encourage you to continue to speak your mind and let your voices be heard.

“Today we stand in a unique community who know what it feels like to go unheard. Whose rich and varied history is punctuated by sacrifice.

“In the name of war, development, transport, housing and more, over several decades, St. David’s has been made to surrender much of what made it that unique community in Bermuda. In considering whether to Build a Parish Primary School on this site for the community of St. David’s, this history weighed heavily on our minds.

“Keeping this site as a Parish Primary School is a means of preserving something of that unique St. David’s which does not require this community to again surrender land, custom, tradition or memory.

“The history and legacy of our schools, this community and the Sandys community have given much to our island and now we step into the future united in working for the benefit of our children.

“Our growing economy and the financial contribution that it makes to our society must include our children occupying those jobs that drive that economic growth. Thank you.”

Minister of Education Diallo Rabain said, “Good Day, and Welcome Everyone, Thank you for joining us. Today, we will provide an important update about the new locations of our parish primary schools.

“Over the last five years, our education reform agenda has steadily progressed towards delivering a new, better education system for our children. Our Education Reform Unit has been modernising our approach towards teaching, finding new ways to engage with parents and the community, better aligning the curriculum and improving teaching in areas such as Project-Based Learning and Experiential Learning. They are also developing for our students individual learning pathways to success.

“Our attention has focused on transformative quality education, the classroom learning environment and the building infrastructure needed to support this new approach to learning.

“In anticipation of the work needed to address our future infrastructure needs, in December 2020, the Ministry of Education began to consult with the Bermuda Public School Community to help determine which primary school sites should be developed into Parish Primary Schools. It started with a detailed review of each school site by the School Location Strategy Team with feedback from the public. The decision, announced in June 2021, was based on the following criteria and weighted scoring:

  • Building conditions – 20%
  • Land and property conditions – 30%
  • Safety and health – 30%
  • Transportation – 20%

“The announcement of our parish primary school locations led to significant community discussions and advocacy from various community groups, which supported the retention of primary school locations at West End Primary, St David’s Primary, and St George’s Prep.

“The government, in response to your concerns, initiated a comprehensive rescoring process last year. This process included the addition of the ‘history and legacy’ factor and a review of the previous criteria used. The History and Legacy Working Group was tasked with developing criteria for reevaluating each school’s historical legacy and its impact on their communities. Their meticulous work and dedication resulted in a refined framework that added a History and Legacy score to the previous four scoring factors, ensuring a thorough and fair evaluation.

“The revised weighted scoring criteria were realigned as follows:

  • Building conditions – 15%
  • Land and Property Conditions – 30%
  • Safety and Health – 20%,
  • Transportation – 20%, and
  • History and Legacy – 15%

“Applying this new set of criteria gave us a more nuanced understanding of each school’s contribution to our community and its historical significance.

The reassessment resulted in West End Primary School achieving a slightly higher score than Somerset Primary. Additionally, the St. David’s Primary School site, which we stand on today, improved its ranking among St. George’s Parish schools.

“The History and Legacy interviews with schools allowed each school to demonstrate and show the vast number of individuals who have come through our primary schools’ halls and contributed significantly to Bermuda in sports, politics, entrepreneurship, and community activism. There is no denying the tremendous role that all of our Primary Schools have played in developing Bermuda into the country it is today.

“As a result of the rescoring process, I am pleased to announce that the West End Primary School site will be redeveloped into the new Sandys Parish Primary School. All other Parish Primary School sites to be redeveloped will remain as previously announced.

“Further discussions followed the final rescoring process, emphasising the distinctive nature of the St. David’s community compared to the broader St. George’s Parish. The final History and Legacy Score of St. David’s Primary School reflected and underscored this area’s unique character and rich history.

“After reviewing the unique characteristics and history of the St. David’s community compared to St. George’s Parish, it became clear that St. David’s Primary deserved a distinct status. The school’s impressive History and Legacy Score was a key indicator of its unique cultural and community significance. Consequently, we have decided to redevelop this site into a second Parish Primary School for St. George’s Parish.

“It is fitting that today, as we begin Heritage Month, we can make this timely announcement as a practical demonstration of our commitment to recognising the importance of our shared cultural history.

“This decision reflects our recognition of St. David’s as a place of learning and a vital community hub. Moving forward, I am committed to working with the local community to ensure that the future Community Primary School fully embodies and celebrates the unique spirit and heritage of St. David’s.

“We recognise that these decisions took longer than expected and appreciate your patience. We worked diligently to ensure that our decisions were fair and well-informed while remaining sensitive to the impact of these outcomes on all stakeholders.

“We understand that despite robust advocacy, this final decision may not align with every school community’s hopes. However, the process has been one of careful consideration and meticulous evaluation, guided by a commitment to fairness and the best outcomes for our educational system and our children.

“However, this does not diminish those educational institutions’ contribution to those communities and our country. In the weeks ahead, we will accept expressions of Interest for the Educational History and Legacy Committee. This committee will be empowered to work closely with all of our primary school families to ensure that while those schools may not be a part of our system in the future, their history will never be erased or forgotten.

“Now that the rescoring process is completed and the final school sites to be repurposed into Parish Primary Schools have been selected, I wish to announce the next steps that the public can look forward to:

  • “An order will be drafted to amend the Education [Primary Schools] Temporary Act 2023 to add the following schools that will transition from a primary school to a parish primary school. This list includes Francis Patton Primary [Hamilton Parish] and Purvis Primary [Warwick Parish]. The schools to be added are:
    • Sandys Parish – West End Primary
    • Southampton Parish – Dalton E. Tucker Primary
    • Paget Parish – Paget Primary
    • Pembroke Parish – West Pembroke Primary and Victor Scott Primary
    • Devonshire Parish – Elliot Primary
    • Smith’s Parish – Harrington Sound Primary
    • St. George’s Parish – East End Primary and St. David’s Primary
  • “Next, the Reform Unit will focus on finalising the 3-tier to 2-tier plan, which will be first discussed in April 2023. The next version of The Plan to Transition from a 3-Tier to a 2-Tier System will be finalised and released to the public. The Department of Education and the Education Reform Unit have been working with a representative group of school and site leaders to determine a process for sharing information that is specific to each school and site leader school community, including the timing for school openings, phasing out and closures as well as other pertinent information.

“Change, while challenging, is essential for progress. We are committed to providing our children with the best educational environments possible.

“Thank you for your continued support and engagement. We look forward to a bright future for education in Bermuda.”

Update: A St David’s PTA spokesperson said, “The St. David’s Primary School PTA and the community of St. David’s welcome today’s announcement by the Minister of Education to reverse its earlier decision to close the school.

“The announcement was made today following a presentation by PTA and community members in March that detailed the school’s 131-year history and heritage, especially its significance as the Island’s first integrated school and its importance as a community hub. A ‘Keep Our School Open’ petition launched by the group has since received more than 1800 signatures.”

St. David’s Primary School PTA President, Ms. Kelly Pitcher said: “We’d like to thank the Minister for taking into consideration the importance of history and heritage when it comes to deciding which schools should remain open and on behalf of the PTA, I’d like to thank the History and Legacy Working Group for listening to our reasons for keeping St. David’s Primary School open. I’d also like to thank our headmaster, Mr. Gladstone Thompson and his team, who have worked so hard over many years to ensure our East End children receive the best possible education.

“St. David’s Primary School a remarkable school that has produced many remarkable people and we hope it will continue to serve this community for many years to come, as it has for the past 131 years.”

President of St. David’s Cricket Club, Ms. Ceble Crockwell said: “The whole of the St. David’s community will be celebrating this news today.

“We’ve said from day one that St. David’s Primary sits right at the heart of our communi-ty because for us, it’s not just about providing an education – St. David’s Primary has created a whole group of people who care about this community and who make sure that our young people are safe and cared for. The school has instilled the values and standards in generations of St. David’s islanders that we still hold true today and which makes this the proud and unique community that we are.”

The spokesperson said, “Members of the Keep Our School Open group include: Ms. Ceble Crockwell, Ms. Kelly Pitcher, Dr. Carlton Crockwell, Dr. Henry Dowling, Mr. Rus-sell Richardson; Mrs. Doris Foley, Mr. Maurice Foley and Mrs. Elizabeth Deacon.”

Update: Maurice Foley, OBA candidate for Constituency 3, St. David’s, said, “Today marks a momentous occasion as we celebrate alongside our St. David’s parents, teachers, and students in the wake of the Minister’s decision to maintain the operation of St. David’s Primary School. This cherished institution has been a cornerstone of our community for over 130 years, embodying the spirit and resilience of St. David’s Island.

“We extend our heartfelt commendation to the dedicated members of the PTA and the steadfast community advocates who rallied together, unwavering in their commitment to safeguarding the future of our beloved school. Their relentless efforts and impassioned advocacy have undoubtedly made a profound impact, ensuring that the legacy of St. David’s Primary endures for generations to come.

“As we embark on the journey ahead, we eagerly anticipate the next chapter in the storied history of St. David’s Primary. With the continued support and collaboration of our community, we are poised to embrace the future with optimism, determination, and boundless enthusiasm. Together, let us uphold the legacy of excellence that defines St. David’s Primary School, ensuring that it remains a beacon of educational excellence and a source of pride for our community.”

Elizabeth Deacon, OBA candidate for Constituency 4, St. George’s South, said, “The One Bermuda Alliance is celebrating with our St. David’s parents, teachers and students today following the Minister’s decision to keep St. David’s Primary School open. It is by any measure, a successful and well-loved parish school that has served this unique community well for more than 130 years. We commend the PTA and community members who came together, determined to make a rock-solid case for the school and I will continue to do everything I can to support the school and the community as we look forward to the next 100 years of St. David’s Primary.”

Update: Shadow Education Minister Ben Smith said, “The PLP government creates problems and then wants accolades for solving them

“After causing unnecessary angst for over a year, it does a turnabout on the decisions to close two schools—what a waste of taxpayers’ dollars!

“St David’s Primary can breathe a sigh of relief that they are not losing another part of their community with the school being saved. St David’s has been ignored for far too long and this about turn by the government can’t cover that up.

“We have to applaud the West End Warriors for standing up and fighting for their position. It has taken a long time for the Minister to finally come to his senses after all the frustration and anxiety that he caused during this process.

“Those who supported the schools staying open can celebrate today but the Minister should not pat himself or his colleagues on the back for the result. The pressure applied forced him to cave in and political survival was his decision maker.

“Bermuda needs to pay attention to how this government operates.

“This is just another example of them creating a huge problem only to change their position as if they are the ones with the solutions. When you make this level of changes after being so stubborn and arrogant with your original position it makes me question what else in the Education plan needs to be rescored.

“How is the Minister still in charge of education? He has been asked to resign by so many and today just adds to the reasons why.”

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Comments (11)

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  1. hey says:

    Please can the minister or someone request through PATI the scorecards for each school for each of the categories that summed to the total for each school.

    • Hilarious! says:

      Go for it. Send your PATI requests to the Information Officers at the various ministries involved. You can find the contacts on the ICO website on the Public Authorities, Information Officers & Heads of Public Authorities, web page.

      Best of luck.

  2. Ringmaster says:

    What a bunch of total incompetents. A decision made because of the likely loss of votes. Pure vote buying.

  3. TDDW says:

    So happy St David’s gets to stay open. Would love to see St George’s Prep stay open instead of East End Primary. Clearly there is a higher demand for enrollment in St George’s Prep for obvious reasons: better facilities and academic results. St George’s Prep’s enrollment is almost twice as high as East End Primary. So why close the bigger school with the better reputation?

  4. Swing Voter no more says:

    Little shadow education Minister Ben Smith you sound desperate as usual. How would you like the the obaubpers corpse after the election? The choices are either burial or cremation.

    • Answer says:

      What would the oba cremate? The party is a clown show on 6 wheels.

  5. Gibbo says:

    Closing one of the best primary schools on the island, Somerset Primary, which has just as much history and also has as many voters because that is what this is all about. I hope it doesn’t backfire, which actually it is going to.

  6. Joe Bloggs says:

    And now everyone in Bermuda knows how to keep their local school open. Make enough noise and threaten to embarrass the PLP Government and your local school will be kept open.

    • XUBP XOBA voter says:

      The OBA needs to learn how to play chess instead their wasting time looking for surrogates to front for a little white party. Using the same old old old plan as the UBP makes them appear as the UBP.

  7. Janice Battersbee says:

    We invite all to go to the Save West End School FB page and watch the videos at the bottom of the posts to educate yourselves on the FACTUAL information for the arguments regarding the LOCATION of the parish primary school.

    It’s not just about history and legacy.

    The previous scoring did not make sense. If it did, there would be no argument.

    The curriculum and type of teaching is a different and separate matter.

    If you choose to remain uneducated about the matter, that’s on you

  8. Steve says:

    Vladimir Blurtin & Roban didn’t look comfortable. Their own supporters bashed them. Must be a sweetener coming soon.

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