The following statement was released today by Opposition Senate Leader Ben Smith, Shadow Education Minister

Since the publication of the Ministry of Education’s ‘Parish Primary School Decisions’ in July 2021, eight primary schools have been slated to close, with the purpose of creating Parish Primary Schools.  

The One Bermuda Alliance has agreed with this initiative due to Bermuda’s declining birthrate, the mass exodus of students from the Bermuda Public School System to enroll in private schools and the number of families emigrating because of the escalating cost of living under the Progressive Labour Party Government. 

But the methodology used to determine which schools would get the axe was faulty and gave minimal importance to the cultural and historical legacy of schools that are the cornerstones of our communities.  

Two points extracted from this publication resonate with educators and residents. 

  1.  The vision is for each parish primary school to become the hub of its parish 
  2. Honouring and preserving the history and legacy of primary schools will be a critical part of the community-involved process of transition and implementation to the new model… 

West End Primary School’s physical location and its social symbolism as a beachhead against racial segregation serves as a memorial to those who braved discrimination to educate thousands of Black people through the years, makes it a natural hub of Sandys parish.  

Although it scored a mere five percentile points behind Somerset Primary School in the Ministry’s decision-making matrix (Proposal for the Introduction of Primary Schools December 2020), its cultural significance as the oldest school in the western hemisphere is being ignored. 

With such a long and rich history of educating racially disadvantaged students makes its impending closure puzzling. 

The One Bermuda Alliance has consulted with families who live in the parish and activists who are protesting this decision and would advise that the Government pause and reconsider the closing of this school. It is time to listen to the residents of the Sandys community and make an exception for the sake of present and future generations.