Education Minister Diallo Rabain

Faced with another protest demonstration, this time by Paget Primary School, Education Minister Diallo Rabain issued assurances that class mergers will not lead to job losses at the Ord Road facility.

Speaking at a news conference yesterday with Kalmar Richards, Commissioner of Education after Paget Primary School teachers, students and parents demonstrated their concern over the proposed mergers on the steps of the Anglican Cathedral.

Minister Rabain said that one teacher would be moved to another school as part of an ongoing re-evaluation process in the ongoing assessment of class sizes throughout the public education system.

Another teacher thought to be affected will remain at the school.

“It is unfortunate that the narrative of teachers possibly losing their employment has been driven by some of the teachers themselves,” said Mr Rabain.

“I can confirm that there will be no loss of employment. There will be one teacher from Paget Primary School who will be reassigned.”

Standard class sizes set by the Ministry were one teacher to 25 students at the P4 to P6 level and one teacher to 18 students at the P1 to P3 level and some teachers had “gotten comfortable” with that, he added.

But he would neither confirm or deny whether or not other schools would have class mergers or close down. As it stands now, the evaluation continues – no word yet on when firm decisions will be made moving forward.

“The Ministry of Education recognizes and acknowledges the concerns that have been expressed by parents at Paget Primary in regards to class size and teacher placement,” said the Minister.

“The Commissioner of Education and I met with PTA representatives and the Paget Primary Principal this morning (June 26).

“The PTA Representatives were forthright in sharing that the teachers of the schools had reached out to them and asked for their support.

“Every year the Department of Education reviews enrollment and allocation of teaching resources and makes adjustments in the best interests of our students. This includes the routine reassignment of teachers within the system.

“Keeping with that practice, Paget Primary, as well as several other schools, was identified as a school that needed a review of staff allocation. This process was discussed with Principals approximately six weeks ago. I have been assured by the Principal at Paget Primary that she had discussed the potential reassignments with the potentially affected teachers as well.”

Moving forward, he said: “The Ministry is committed to working with parents, teachers and students to insure that our students receive a quality education in a safe environment with the best teachers and resources made available.

“With declining enrollment at a number of schools, the Ministry and Department of Education is obligated to examine what measures best allow us to maintain our commitment to students and teachers.

“Based on the response from the Principal and assessment of the needs of the schools and students, it was decided that one teacher from Paget’s teaching staff would be reassigned to another public school for the 2019/2020 school year. This will result in a P4 class of 22 students having one classroom teacher.

“This means that the staffing levels at Paget Primary will be reduced by one teacher only at the P4 level. The surplus P4 teacher will be relocated to fill an existing gap at another school where enrollment remains high.

“The enrollment data for public schools clearly indicates a decline in the number of students, as was seen in the enrollment for 2019/ 2020 school year. A decline is projected to continue up to the year 2026. This reality will require us to continue to examine staffing allocation at our schools and also means that we will continue to reassign staff.”

He also noted that “one of the benefits of reviewing class sizes and staffing allocations is that we are able to reassign teaching staff to fill vacancies within the public school system”.

“We will continue this practice, and note that the restructuring of staff will insure that we keep our teachers in the system, staffing gaps are filled and quality education continues within the Bermuda Public School System,” said Mr Rabain.

“Our focus in the upcoming year is on ensuring excellent teaching occurs to help our students to achieve their highest potential. We are committed to working with parents, teachers and students to insure that our students receive a quality education in a safe environment with the best teachers and resources made available to them.”