Virtual meetings to gauge public feedback on the Government’s plans to close a total of nine primary schools in 2022 begin in January.
According to the Minister of Education, Diallo Rabain, the public consultation meetings will run through to March 12, 2021.
The concept behind the plans to cut the number of public primary schools in operation down from 18 to eight are contained in a consultation document from the Ministry of Education, which includes one new school to be built.
That leaves a total of nine primary schools on the chopping block facing the axe, including some the best performing primary schools on the island.
Those schools include (from east to west):
- St George’s Preparatory School and St David’s Primary School
- Prospect and Elliot Primary Schools in Devonshire
- Northlands Primary in Pembroke
- Gilbert Institute in Paget
- Heron Bay Primary and Port Royal Primary in Southampton and
- West End Primary School in Sandys
- The Ministry also proposed two primary schools in Devonshire should be closed and changed into the “exceptionalities signature school and the alternative education signature school”, with a new primary school to be built in Devonshire
When it comes down to Cambridge Checkpoint assessments, you may recall that St George’s Prep attained the highest score of all primary schools in science in 2018.
Both St George’s Prep and St David’s Primary outperformed all other primary schools in maths in Bermuda that same year and were both in the line up of top performing schools in all other subjects in Bermuda at that point in time.
Last year, St George’s Prep scored second best in maths and third place in science overall.
To date, the proposal has generated quick a bit of public feedback on the local social media circuit.
Now the Minister is encouraging residents, to put that feedback where it matters.
“In response to community calls for change in education, the Government of Bermuda has developed a profound and powerful vision and plan to change education,” the Minister explained.
“These efforts are holistic in nature. Therefore as a community, we must also consider taking a different approach to primary school education and how primary schools are organized.
“Our profound and compelling vision is that each primary school will become the hub of its parish. Research shows that when families, community groups, businesses and schools band together to support learning, students achieve more in school and enjoy their educational experience. Future public primary schools will expand courses and programme offerings to provide students with a range of educational experiences and services that meet international standards.”
The Minister went on to say: “We have a primary school enrolment of 2,074 students, and considerable human and financial resources spread inequitably across 18 primary schools.
“Our primary schools are old and were designed and built to support education from an earlier era. They require significant maintenance and repairs, and cannot support new teaching and learning models, and 21st century learning environments that our students need as part of a best in class education system.
“Therefore, to modernize and transform, we propose to introduce parish primary schools.
“The consultation document is posted on the Ministry of Education website, along with an executive summary,” he added.
Submissions can be made at https://forms.gov.bm/Parish-Primary-School-Consultation-Form
“Engaging consultation activities will be announced in January to give stakeholders the opportunity to learn more and share their views,” said Mr Rabain.
“This consultation will end on March 12, 2021. The dates for the public consultation meetings will be announced in January.”
At last check, there are currently 2,074 primary school pupils in 18 primary schools. That’s 1,086 fewer than the total recorded in 2002.
The document also stated that school closure will mean staff reductions through attrition, retirement and “other opportunities within or outside of the Bermuda public school system”.
To meet international standards each of the proposed schools will be accredited.
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