Caymans

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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

School standards gap between rich and poor

School standards gap between rich and poor

The Office of Education Standards found that 35% of children attending one of the 25 education facilities inspected so far go to schools or early learning centres with an overall grade of ‘weak’ and only 25% attend a school that is at the expected standard. Furthermore, in the OES annual report the inspectors noted a correlation between school fees and standards, with public schools and those with lower fees achieving no more than ‘satisfactory’ grades, with the notable exception of the Lighthouse School.

All of the private schools and early years centres given a ‘good’ grade (the expected standard) or ‘excellent’, have fees in the middle to high fee bracket category, the report noted.

The only government school that reached a ‘good’ grade is the Lighthouse School, an all-age government school for special education needs students. While the inspectors found some improvements in government schools, which have now almost all reached the minimum standard of ‘satisfactory’, there are currently no mainstream public schools or any school within the low fee bracket that meets the expected level in terms of overall performance quality.

The five private schools that reached the expected standard are: Cayman Prep and High School, an all-though school for ages 4-18; Island Montessori, Montessori by the Sea School, and Starfish Village/Village Montessori, which all follow a Montessori curriculum; and Little Trotters Farm and Nursery School, the only educational institution inspected in 2018-19 judged to offer an ‘excellent’ quality of education overall.

The two government schools still found to be ‘weak’ in overall performance are the Clifton Hunter High School and Savannah Primary. John Gray and Layman Scott high schools, and Creek & Spot Bay, Prospect and West End primaries, as well as the Little Cayman Education Services were all judged ‘satisfactory’.

During the full inspections of schools, the inspectors found ‘excellent’ quality teaching at public schools in only 3% of lessons they observed, 31% was ‘good’ and 45% ‘satisfactory’. In more than one in five of the lessons observed (21%) the teaching quality was ‘weak’, compared to private schools, where 11% of lessons were ‘excellent’ and 12% were ‘weak’. Also concerning is that across all the early years centres, 25% of lessons were judged to be ‘weak’.

Commenting on the lack of progress in public primary schools in the ‘full’ inspections in 2018-19 since the follow-through inspections conducted in 2017-18, the OES said there had “not yet been any significant improvement in the quality of teaching in the period of one year between each set of inspections”.

Given this finding, it is not surprising that students’ achievement in public schools by the end of the primary years in English, mathematics and science “remains below international standards” and that there has been little improvement since the last round of inspections in 2014-15.

“By the end of the primary years, in 2019, less than three quarters of the Year 6 cohort achieved at the expected level in reading, writing and mathematics,” inspectors found.

Similarly, at the end of high school, external exam results in key subjects “is well below international standards because too few students leave secondary school achieving the expected level in the Caribbean Secondary examination or in the International General Certificate of Education”.

Nevertheless, there is a clear difference between results for Year 11 students on Cayman Brac, where 72.2% of the Class of 2019 achieved 5 or more Level 2 passes including English and maths, compared to 37% on Grand Cayman, and 94.4% achieved 5 or more Level 2 passes in any subject, compared to 57.65% of students on Grand Cayman.

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The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.

Ayn Rand
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