July 26, 2021

The Editor speaks: Ideas for successful schools

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The Office of Education Standards (OES) is actively seeking input from the general public on the new inspection framework, “Successful Schools and Achieving Students”, by holding district meetings and conducting social media polls via the Cayman Islands Government Facebook page. See iNews Cayman story published today “Ideas sought for creating successful Cayman Islands schools”.

“The idea is to provide educators, parents and community members with the standards, goals and expectations prior to an inspection, so that all stakeholders understand and agree upon what ‘Excellent’ looks like”, said Office of Education Standards Chief Inspector, Peter Carpenter.

The published document is some 57 pages long!

Before finalising the document the OES is seeking feedback from parents and members of the public.

The District Meetings start today (23) in Cayman Brac and finishes in North Side on June 1st.

With parents blaming nearly everything on the government, and especially the teachers, it will be interesting just how many members of the public attend these meetings.

It will also be even more interesting how much of the public’s input actually finds its way into the final document.

Further, it will be of even greater interest how many of the ideas and actions will be implemented by the government.

Most reports open with much fanfare and end up collecting dust on the government offices shelves.

The cost of implementation is also a major factor.

These are the goals set out in the Report

Staffing and the learning environment illustrated below would be evaluated as excellent;

Well-qualified, experienced teaching staff are appropriately and efficiently deployed to provide a curriculum of high quality for all students. Teachers are complemented in their work by the provision of sufficient support staff and other professionals, including specialised staff assisting students with special educational needs. The school has ready access to appropriately qualified supply staff which helps maintain continuity of learning for students. There are well-developed arrangements for ensuring that cover teachers are able to operate effectively when they are in the school. There is a very good balance of experience and skills among the staff team and this is maximised through their deployment and assigned responsibilities.Retention levels are very high with minimal turn over of staff each year.

The premises and modern facilities provide a safe, pleasant and stimulating environment. They are well suited to supporting the curricular and extra-curricular activities of students, the work of staff, and social and leisure activities. Classroom spaces are suitable for the number and age of students and shared areas enhance potential curriculum opportunities. Social areas include innovative and imaginative use of space and allow choice and flexibility of usage. There are suitable work areas for teachers and reliable IT networks to support efficient communication. The library/resource area serves as a hub for learning with excellent, up-to-date texts and resources. Storage provision and facilities for display are plentiful and convenient. Accommodation is very well maintained with regular checks undertaken by alert and skilled support teams. As a consequence, renewals and repairs are undertaken quickly. Fixtures, fittings and furniture meet the various educational needs of students at different stages of the school. They are of a high quality, in very good condition and as necessary, they are replaced in a timely fashion. The premises are designed to facilitate access by all users.

Timetabling is efficient and ensures the best use of available facilities and learning space. The school is extremely well equipped with all necessary and relevant, up-to-date resources including textbooks, practical materials, ICT and specialist equipment. Resources are well matched to the needs of the students, are in very good condition, catalogued and easily accessible. The use of resources is monitored carefully to ensure efficiency and good value for money. Planned improvements to the school are carefully managed and successfully further enhance provision.

Staffing and the learning environment illustrated below would be evaluated as satisfactory;

There are sufficient, qualified teachers to provide a broad and appropriate curriculum for all students, including provision of support from specialists for students with additional learning needs. Teachers and support staff are deployed appropriately. The school has suitable arrangements for obtaining qualified supply staff when necessary. There is a satisfactory balance of expertise among staff. Retention levels are broadly aligned to staff contractual arrangements.

The premises and facilities provide a clean, safe environment for learning, teaching and extra-curricular activities. The teaching areas are of an acceptable size. Furniture and fittings are well maintained. The library/resources area is well stocked and content is regularly updated with new texts, which interest students and nurture a love of reading. Playing fields/games areas are in acceptable condition and regularly used.

Timetabling makes satisfactory use of all available areas to meet the educational needs of students and the professional requirements of staff. The school is equipped with an appropriate range of resources including textbooks, practical materials, specialist equipment and ICT. Resources are matched to the learning needs of the students, are well looked after and stored efficiently. Resources are updated or replaced as funds allow.

Staffing and the learning environment are unlikely to be of satisfactory quality if;

Staffing levels are insufficient to deliver the curriculum and, as a consequence, teaching loads may be disproportionately high for teachers for extended periods of time.

Teachers or support staff do not hold the necessary qualifications or have sufficient experience in order to undertake their current roles or remits.

The facilities or resources for learning are inadequate to meet curriculum requirements or learning needs of students. • Outdoor learning facilities are under developed or equipment is not suitable to the age or learning needs of students. • Classrooms are too small for the number of students taught.”

I can see the word “MONEY” jumping out in nearly everything listed in the above as ‘excellent’ and ‘satisfactory’.

And who is going to evaluate all of this?

Ideas for successful schools is one thing. The actual carrying out of the same is an entirely different ball game.

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