• The following statement was issued the Department of Education: Kalmar Richards, Commissioner of Education regarding Dellwood Middle School on Monday, November 11, 2019…

A variety of issues pertaining to teaching conditions at Dellwood Middle School were raised in an article submitted by the Shadow Minister of Education, Mr Cole Simons MP.

The Department of Education (DOE) would like to take this opportunity to clarify and provide accurate information to parents and the public in response to issues outlined by Mr Simons. It is important to the Department that facts be presented, and context provided for such critical matters that affect Bermuda’s children.

Student/ Teacher Placement:

Between June 20th and 21st, 2019, all middle schools received acceptance letters outlining how many students were to be expected for the 2019/20 school year. Acceptance letters were distributed to allow schools to plan at the site level, order resources, and establish class schedules prior to the start of the first day of school.

Additionally, middle school principals were consulted on the staff they would receive for the 2019/20 school year prior to redeployment letters being sent to staff on June 28, 2019. Before school closed for the 2018/19 school year, middle school principals had a full understanding of student numbers and staffing as it related to the placement of students and teachers from TN Tatem Middle School.

To assist with this transition, Dellwood Middle School was provided with a second administrative assistant who was redeployed from TN Tatem Middle School. An additional, non-teaching deputy was also assigned to Dellwood Middle School for the month of September 2019.

TN Tatem Middle School parents were fully engaged in the process regarding student placement. It was very important to give parents a choice in this matter. M1 and M2 parents completed applications for their choice of middle school, with the deadline set for June 12, 2019.

A separate meeting was held with new M1 parents on June 19, and they were also given an opportunity to make a choice on their preferred middle school.

Parents of students who are in functional skills and functional academics special education programmes attended separate meetings to ensure expectations were met for their school of choice for September 2019.

Zoning practices for placing students was considered, with the majority of students being placed at Sandy’s Secondary Middle School. Students who preferred other middle schools were placed close to the central and eastern zones. Teachers were also engaged during this process, with the understanding that students would be placed first based on parental choice.

The majority of TN Tatem teachers who were initially placed at Dellwood Middle School for the remainder of the 2018/19 school year requested to remain at Dellwood Middle School during the teacher consultation period which was conducted between June 11th -14th, 2019. Based on results from the consultation, Dellwood received the majority of redeployed core subject teachers [math, science, language arts and social studies].

Previously Dellwood Middle School had four core subject teachers per year level. Additional teachers assigned from TN Tatem Middle School provided an opportunity to have a fifth core subject teacher at each year level allowing for five sections of each core subject, and smaller class sizes.

The addition of teachers did result in teachers sharing instructional spaces, but the overall format was based on a student-first model – with the most important variable being the quality of teaching and not the ownership of classroom space. With this model, core teachers are given ample planning time so that if they are using a shared space they can allocate personal and team planning time accordingly.

The Department of Education put together a team to assist the Dellwood leadership with reviewing scheduling options. The recommendations were shared with the Dellwood leadership team which has the ultimate responsibility of the schools’ schedule.

IT

An IT representative from the Department of Education was assigned to Dellwood Middle School to ensure any outstanding issues with IT were addressed; the IT Technician is still stationed at the school to assist.

To date, the following has been confirmed:

  • Internet Access – A full upgrade of the fibre optic system is complete. All students and staff are experiencing faster internet speed and connectivity
  • Computer Access – 100% of school staff has access to computers
  • Printers – 100% of printers are operational
  • Telephone System – 100% of school staff have access to phone service

The Dellwood Middle School Physical Plant:

The Department can confirm that the Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Kalmar Richards, and the DOE Facilities Manager, Mr Dwayne Caisey met with principals at CedarBridge Academy on Thursday, January 17, 2019 regarding the 2018 Schools’ Inspection Report.

At that time, the Facilities Section was tasked to ensure each school principal received a copy of their school’s health and safety report by the end of day Friday, January 18,  2019. This task was achieved and confirmed in writing on January 21, 2019.

The Department of Education is committed to ensuring that all Bermuda Public School facilities, staff, students and parents receive quality service and attention.

The Department of Education will continue to take steps to ensure open communication between schools, the Department, and the Ministry of Education remain open and transparent. It is important that a collaborative environment where our students come first is at the center of all communication going forward.