Pre-schools must make new grade

| 15/05/2015 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Early years education in Cayman is undergoing a shake-up with the introduction of new standards and a national curriculum for toddlers. Having introduced a new licensing and registration regime for the sector, the Education Ministry is aiming for a cultural shift from child-minding to child learning. In order to stay in business pre-schools will need to meet exacting new criteria, not just in education but health and safety as well.

Two schools have already been closed and another three are on “notice to improve” as the government aims to raise standards and ensure all kids in Cayman have access to the same standard of care and education before they enter mainstream school. Speaking at a press briefing this week, Education Minister Tara Rivers said one of her goals on taking office was to improve this area of the education system.

Cayman News Service

Teacher Julie Bain reads to students at the First Baptist School

“We are not looking for 3-year-olds to be doing quantum physics,” she said, “But we do want to see our children are involved in age-appropriate activities.”

Over the last year the Early Education Unit has prepared for the introduction of the new curriculum and standards and began implementing the registration of all child care centres. Officials said it had not been easy. There are 48 registered centres across all three Cayman Islands and many of them were facing numerous challenges. Some had too many kids, not enough staff or poorly trained employees and some were failing in areas of health and safety and were behind on fire codes. Others were going too far with a school type environment and no play, while others were all play.

But from now on everything, from playgrounds to lunch rooms, must meet certain standards and teachers and caregivers will be expected to deliver a standardized learning package that meets the new national curriculum and fits with the age of the pre-school kids. If a centre is failing it can be placed on notice to address the problems but centres will be closed if they do not meet the required grade, as shown by the two early casualties.

Early education teachers will also be required to look for signs of abuse and meet their obligations under the child protection laws and also spot children with special needs, following set criteria on how they can deal with kids facing learning difficulties.

Government is focusing on early education as an opportunity not just to provide quality care and learning for pre-school children but as a place to begin addressing the disproportionately high number of special needs and behavioural issues in the mainstream system before the kids begin formal school.

As a result, the goal is to ensure all children have access to early years learning and funding is available for families on lower incomes. Full or partial funding is now available for the forthcoming school year, which is sent directly to the Early Childhood Centre, where the kids will attend.

In order to qualify, children must be 3 years old as of 1 September and meet specified financial criteria (see table below). Children who do not have reception provision within their catchment area may also be eligible to receive funding if they are registered at the Department of Education Services (DES) for a reception class place.

Application must be submitted with the relevant documents to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Unit, 5th Floor, Government Administration Building no later than Friday, July 31st, 2015.

For further information contact Turnette Stewart at  or Reneé Barnes at  and 244-5735.

Cayman News Service

Criteria for pre-school funding

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Comments (7)

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  1. Just Saying says:

    It is very enlightening to see this sort of proactive work being done. I hope that Tara will now apply the same results driven mandate to the Department of Labour and Pensions which by far has THE poorest level of customer satisfaction in the CIG. Franz could make this office his first example of poor performance. Case in point…….why does one have to wait 3-5 days for a manager to assign a case to someone to deal with. This is what is told to the public by the receptionist. Is this manager so inept or incompetent that they have to seen to be in control. My niece had 2 simple questions and it took someone 4 days, not hours to get back to her. By the time she got a reply, her question was answered by someone else. This is piss poor customer service and those in control need to either shape up or be shipped out.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A curriculum for children sounds very much like yet another UK initiative brought to Cayman without the necessary look at evidence for impact. We all know that something has to be done about the early years here on Cayman but without the right nursery staff who are well trained and supported, nothing can change. There has to be a fundamental change in how we see learning taking place and how children learn.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So how can the funding be applied when there is absolutely no way of knowing what people are paid unless they work for government.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would hope they would be smart enough to request copies of payment slips or letters from employers confirming salaries and to be honest this has been offered for years

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well said.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Others were going too far with a school type environment and no play, while others were all play”. The last part of this sentence is worrying or perhaps misrepresented. Children learn through play. There is no ambiguity in what ALL the research indicates. Play Play Play I say but under the watchful eye of qualified childcare workers trained to a high standard to understand how the playing environment of children is rich with learning opportunities.

    • Anonymous says:

      I so agree with this poster. We are forever bringing in initiatives and assuming they will work here. Ultimately good childcare and rich early years experiences for children are born out of well qualified staff whose professional development is continuous and have a good understanding of how children learn. A curriculum for 3 year olds!

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