A recent review of Bermuda’s public schools came in with a failing grade by Cambridge curriculum assessors, who observed 500 students from P1 to M3 in their classrooms.

The Cambridge Checkpoint results showed our students were lagging behind their international peers. The assessors also highlighted unchallenging school assignments.

Education Minister Diallo Rabain told MPs in the House on Friday: “A primary observation pointed out to the department was missed opportunities for our students to engage in deeper learning in many of the classrooms.

“Some of the practices that we have been implementing have not been the best practices. We recognise this, and now we endeavour to improve the practices to do better.

“Thus the Cambridge representatives have put forward a number of recommendations regarding teaching and learning at the primary and middle school levels,” said Mr Rabain.

The assessors recommended:

  • An increase pace of learning; 
  • An increased quantity of work that pupils complete;
  • More challenging work;
  • A greater focus on conceptual rather than procedural understanding;
  • That teachers should do less and engage pupils more in talking, thinking and reflecting;
  • Teachers should do less and engage pupils more in talking, thinking and reflecting;
  • Teachers should give students more challenging work;
  • Teachers should scaffold less so students build independent skills and
  • Give pupils a bigger stake in their learning.

Teachers were also advised to focus their lesson plans to improve fluency, reasoning and problem solving, especially in mathematics.

On the subject of math, the checkpoint assessment completed in April, the national average of Bermuda’s P6 students was 2.4, compared with the international average of 3.8.

The average for M3 students was 2.1 compared with 4.2 internationally. And the results in English and science were also a cause for concern.

Cambridge assessors Abigail Barnett and Alison Borthwick spent a week on island last week observing teachers and providing intervention training for selected math teachers at ten primary and middle schools.

Overall, the Minister said the assessors did not deliver all bad news.

“It was pleasing to know that the first impressing given to our Cambridge representatives as they reported, was that Bermuda has world-class public school students who are eager, intelligent, willing, keen and who want to learn.

“They shared that our teachers are hardworking and that there was clear evidence of the Cambridge curriculum being taught in classrooms.

“This professional development training for our teachers in mathematics is needed. We will endeavour to ensure that this type of training is ongoing as we move ahead,” he said.

“It is recognised that providing our teachers with constant professional development will help to enhance and build on the standard of teaching and learning in the classroom, and, ultimately improve the Cambridge score results for our students.”

A full written report is due to be delivered to the Department of Education within the next three weeks.

He said a comprehensive delivery plan based on the report would be developed that included action steps, timelines and accountability measures for the improvement of mathematics tuition.

The department will report maths progress on a monthly basis.