Survey: Public Support Low for Parish Primary Decisions
Public support for parish primary schools decisions is strongly lacking, according to a survey distributed
by a public school parent.
“The survey was completed by 385 people” said Rajai Denbrook.
82 per cent disagreed that the public had a say in whether or not the island should establish one primary school per parish. 86 per cent disagreed that the public had a say in what factors would be used tod determine which school sites would be used as parish primary schools.
Overall, 66 per cent did not support the parish primary school vision due to school closures. 88 per cent disagreed that the public had a say in which schools would remain open and which would close, and 78 per cent felt that the Ministry of Education should reopen consultation for the selection of school sites and approach consultation differently.
85 per cent of parents of schools selected as sites, and 88 per cent of parents of schools selected for closure, disagreed that that public had any say. Respectively, 70 per cent and 84 per cent felt that
consultation should be reopened.
There was a difference in overall support between the groups, with 45 per cent of parents of selected sites supporting the decisions, and 18 per cent of parents of discontinued sites in support.
70 per cent of public school educators who responded to the survey did not support the parish primary school vision due to school closures. The survey results were shared with the Minister of Education’s office.
“The government has maintained the narrative that the process has been collaborative throughout. The public does not agree and their disagreement is not based on misunderstanding.”
“The Hopkins Report was very critical of the Ministry’s tendency ‘to implement Cabinet or Ministerial initiatives by dictate or stealth’, effectively forcing change onto stakeholders.”
“The survey responses give the impression that, unfortunately, not much has changed. However, we cannot afford to advance this level of reform without stakeholder support.”
“Designing a standardized public consultation process for government would be helpful to prevent these
kinds of dynamics.”
The Parish Primary Strategy Location Team was assembled prior to consultation. It developed the Parish
Primary Schools Study Factors rubric that would be used to identify parish primary school sites. The list was then made public and feedback was sought.
The list of schools the team had created prior to the Ministry soliciting public feedback was the list that would be confirmed to become parish primary schools, with the exception of Elliot Primary. “The work of the Location Team was done without any stakeholder awareness or input. Factually, no
one had any say.”
The survey received 132 responses to open-ended questions which contained a number of reoccurring themes. These included:
1. That the transition focuses primarily on facilities and infrastructure, and not on teaching and learning;
2. That school performance (student performance, instructional quality, and leadership quality) was not measured as a factor;
3. That there are too many unknowns, including cost, design of the new spaces, curriculum, timeline, and staffing changes;
4. That there was a lack of evidence-based clarity on how building upgrades will translate into teaching and learning, and how this will lead to better outcomes for students;
5. That while people understood the argument to consolidate schools and the potential of upgraded and expanded learning spaces and curriculum, they did not agree with the choice of schools or the process taken to identify them;
6. And that the consultation process did not allow for extensive discussion, and did not allow the public a sincere opportunity to shape school site decisions.
A number of other concerns were recorded. These included that School Transformation Teams were meeting between 8:30am and 3:30pm, making it difficult for parents to participate. Another was that adding P7 and P8 to primary schools was not appropriate developmentally and was not thought
“According to the Ministry, KPMG is actively working on the financial reality of the transition as it stands, and a company, Stantec, will be developing the design of the buildings and the logistics of the transition – something the Ministry has not made a strong effort to make public” said Mr. Denbrook.
“Despite this work, consideration should be given to the serious lack of support parish primary schools currently has and resolving this by bold means, including holding their current consolidation plans in abeyance and reopening consultation. That would be the kind of emotionally intelligent, servant- leadership we need right now.”
“If people do not agree, now’s the time to make themselves heard. Sending a short message to the Ministry of Education, to the Learning First team, or to their constituency MP would be a good place to start. Emails can be sourced from www.moed.bm and www.parliament.bm.”
“It’s easy to close buildings and require students and staff to transfer to new school sites when they have no other choice. If this is to be a true transformation, stakeholder support needs to be prioritized and proactively cultivated, or else we risk repeating the mistakes of the past.”
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