Some teachers to get pay rise this year

| 27/08/2015 | 66 Comments
Cayman News Service

Dignitaries at the welcome event for teachers (L-R) Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith, Chief Officer Christen Suckoo, Ministry Councillor Winston Connolly, Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden, Education Minister Tara Rivers and Premier Alden McLaughlin

(CNS): Inequities in the salaries of teachers, where some local staff are earning less than their peers recruited from overseas, will be rectified in this school year, Education Minister Tara Rivers announced at the gathering of teachers Wednesday to mark the beginning of the new school year. She also said that the Portfolio of the Civil Service was, at her request, looking at the salaries of teachers in the region, with a view to a possible increase here in Cayman to align them with comparable pay packets.

In a speech that was more of a pep talk than a welcome back, there was little in the way of praise for the teaching staff in government schools from the minister, even though it appears that there has been yet another jump in external examination results for both Year 11 and Year 12 students who sat CXC, GCSE and other exams this summer.

Nevertheless, Rivers congratulated herself, her ministry and the government for coming through on what she had promised last year, including asking the deputy governor and the POCS to look at the two phases of the salary issue. She said they had received the report on the local inequities just last week and Cabinet had acted promptly.

Briefly referring to the year on year rise in external exam results that has been ongoing over the last decade, the minister repeated many times her vision for the schools: “Children first, no excuses, just solutions”, and claimed it was a new era for education in the Cayman Islands.

Schools are to be given more autonomy, something she said was raised in talks with stakeholders. However, the minister stressed that with more autonomy came more accountability. One of the targets she has set, for which there would be “no excuses”, as per her vision, was for 100% of Year 2 students to be reading on level by the end of the 2019/20 school year. This will be achieved in stages, and by the end of the 2015/16 academic year, she expects 85% of Year 2 students to be at their expected reading level.

A new initiative this academic year is the launch of a new teaching and learning strategy, which is a 14-point multi-year action plan. The minister said there would also be greater levels of collaboration between the ministry the Department of Education Services and the schools.

The baseline inspection of schools that was conducted this year by the UK-based Independent Schools Inspectorate, which only inspects private schools in Britain, and the review of the governance model conducted by consultants KPMG will both be released to the public via the ministry website after they have been given to the schools for review, Rivers said. While the inspectors found that there had been improvement in most schools, she said the results still showed that local government schools were significantly below international standards.

Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith highlighted the steady rise in the external examination results and praised those dedicated teachers who worked hard and put in many extra hours to help students achieve this. This year 47% of Year 11 students gained five or more high level passes, up from 27% in 2011. Over the last three years, the number of Year 12 students gaining 5 or more high level passes including maths and English has jumped from around 39% to 64%, according to DES and ministry figures.

Acknowledging that there was much room for improvement, she said that they should also be celebrating success in the schools. “Too often good things happen in our schools and we do not toot our own horn,” she said.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If you have only ever taught the brightest of children, from the most affluent of homes, with the most motivated parents, and never been near a state school, how can they assess our schools? Just axing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Teachers talk to one another. We live on a small island where nothing remains secret. Your letter is a rather weak attempt at damage limitation.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I hope this statement will clarify any questions or concerns that staff may have had on this topic”. Wrong!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My word Tara you are economical with the truth! The inspectors told me they had never been in a government school before. They also were not allowed to speak to the heads in the first few schools inspected. That changed but it means that in fact the schools were treated differently. Also what qualifies your chief inspector to talk about specific subject areas without reference to your local experts. You can dress it up all you like, this is not a true base line study and therefore a waste of money. Oh congratulations on alienating the majority of teachers at the start of academic year.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Independent schools inspectorate was not an “obvious”choice Minister. Yes it has experience but they have NEVER inspected government schools.they have inspected private international schools and private schools within the UK? Also Mary Bowman does not have any credibility. Don’t you get it? You got this completely wrong and we as teachers do not support or give credence to the study.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well my school was not inspected by them, so much for your base line.

      • Anonymous says:

        People by nature don’t like it when weaknesses are identified. Some have been living the lie for a long time now. There are teachers who are very good at dressing up the outside of their classrooms and pretend that good things are happening. When others evaluate what they are doing and provide real feedback to help them do better, they find a myriad of excuses usually first pointed at the evaluation team. It really does not matter if the team is from the UK, USA or local, you just cannot please some people. For those schools and teachers who accept this baseline inspection report and who will do their best to work on it, the only way is up. For those who believe that they are “the best”, and deny the findings of the report, then its unfortunate for those students. I trust that Minister Rivers and the team will be able to lead and achieve genuine improvements.

        • Anonymous says:

          How can they achieve “genuine improvements” when they know nothing about education and exclude their own experts? But I wish for the children’s sake something good comes out of these ill judged, inaccurate base line assessments. Get a FOI for each report no where do they address the issue of how to get people out of the profession they are ill equipped to be in.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So, as a teacher from overseas now over 20 years here. Having put in 100% effort and spent thousands on getting status in our community, I do not qualify for this proposed pay hike as my NQT was in the UK. So, I continue on the same pay as for the last 12 years, nice one T.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would consult an attorney as this appears to be discrimination on the basis of national origin.

      • Anonymous says:

        Meantime the attorneys get richer. Where pray, on a teachers salary, do you think the money would come from to fight such discrimination.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because status holders Re second class citizens you should know that by now.

  6. Teacher says:

    Does Madame Minister think that the public and teachers are complete idiots when spouting of catch-phrases such as “children first, no excuses, only solutions”. I mean, is Madame Minister not aware that 20th century gimmicks are so passé that the mere mention of them brings on a strong desire to vomit. I’m not sure how she got away with it, but she narrowly avoided a complete mass soaking… Either Madame Minister is completely clueless or she simply doesn’t care to hide the contempt that she holds for teachers and the public when parroting such mindless speeches loaded with complete b.s.. Horrible Minister, horrible Chief of Education, horrible speeches, horrible policies. Signed, Teacher

    • Anonymous says:

      What I fail to understand is how is ploughed on with the disastrous speech. It is clear her instincts are less than honed, her ability to be flexible is absent, and her self congratulatory tone out of tone with the mood in that hall. Work on your SMART targets in future Tara before you lecture others and go and get some people skills.

      • Anonymous says:

        Her campaign slogan should be “Listen to my own hype, ignore my lack of achievement”.

        • Teacher says:

          Love it. Perhaps you ought to run as her campaign manager. Her other slogan ought to be, “Look at all the wonderful things that could have happened since I started running my mouth all day!”. Another could be, “Look at me, look at me, two years in and nothing to show for – but I’m still running my mouth as if I have done something. I must be great!” Signed, Teacher

      • Teacher says:

        As Donald Trump would say, she is a “COMPLETE DISASTER”. Signed, Teacher.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mismanagement and students out of control yet those responsible are rewarded with promotions.

    • Teacher says:

      Remind me again, how is it that those in charge don’t see the same thing that everyone else does? Signed, Teacher

  8. Anonymous says:

    Looking at the caption under the photo, I feel so sorry for the word “dignitary”. Has the word ever fallen so low? I think they invited Ossie so the rest of them could feel smug that there was someone even more ineffective and useless than they were.

    • Anonymous says:

      In the Cayman Dicitionary “dignitary” means “person who thinks they are important and acts consistent with that belief”.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Did she address the doctored ministry report and the cover up?

  10. Anonymous says:

    What is the Ministers “excuse” for failing to deal with John Grey’s failing management over years? Come on Minister, we want “solutions” after all its children first!

    • Teecha says:

      The solution is to promote the leaders of these failing schools to CEO. To be fair to Tara, this has been the solution for the past 20 years or so.

      • Anonymous says:

        Quite true, Teecha, but it has been going on for even longer than 20 years. That is how many of the past and present local staff members in the Education Department got there: promoted out of the schools because they were so useless.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please: John Gray with an “A” not an “E”. Thank you.

      • Anonymous says:

        And “grey” with an “e” when referring to the colour. That is “colour” with a “u”.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Children first, no excuses, only solutions”. What does it mean for my practice in the classroom? Actually nothing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Here is a legitimate excuse…poor management….

  13. Teacher says:

    The Cayman Island Education system is a based on a mishmash of untried, idiotic, failed, extravagant, imprudent, thoughtless, amateurish, useless, good-for-nothing ideas concocted by countless numbers of unintelligent, unseasoned, useless, obnoxious narcissists. These individuals, who love to pat their own backsides for occasionally being able to properly put on a pair of socks unassisted, then have the nerve to give hour-long speeches on matters which they have no clue about. Experts they are not. Best leave the work to the real professionals Ms. Minister of Education and Ms. Chief of Education Officer! Signed, Teacher

  14. Morning Wood says:

    I get a rise pretty much every day.

    • Anonymous says:

      My favorite “Rivers congratulated herself and government”….i still can’t pick myself up off the floor from laughing so hard. Self praise is no praise, and truthfully Ms Rivers, you haven’t done anything for this country, only putting things to legislation that could do more harm then good to the country. I and I am sure quite a few people are counting the days for when we can vote again…never again will we make this mistake again. Remember, she ran independent and joined a party. Never showed up to sign, always excuses.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Oh its actually only Caymanian NQT’s who will get the pay “rise”. Another example of a politician being economical with the truth.

  16. Anonymous says:

    300,000 spent on commissioning these reports. The woman should be sacked for failing to do what she said she would do, namely commission a base line assessment from experts. Instead we got reports from people who know nothing. Besides I believe it should be a sackable offence to doctor a report.

    • Anonymous says:

      How much? Nothing woukd surprise me. Interesting thing is how she is going to ignore these ill asvised reports. How can she destroy all the wonderful gains of the last four years whilst still implementing the dogma that is in the inspection report? Interesting times ahead.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also remember the baseline report she commissioned by the “independent Schools Inspectorate” is very partial. The Independent here only means they inspect independent schools,(private schools to you and me). Also could she explain why the reports have been withheld from her own staff or were sent back for “correcting”.

  17. Anonymous says:

    OMG! Cayman’s education system was far further ahead forty years ago before political control of the system was introduced and the education professionals were relegated to frustrated “yes-people”. I know one local education professional who, upon retirement in 1980, and based on observations within the system, predicted that Cayman “will be run by idiots”. The meaning was that the education system was clearly failing and that the output of the system, generally, would be under- or pseudo-educated “idiots” running our country.

    I’d say that was an accurate prediction – at least in respect of the public service in general.

    Sadly, the politicos are still playing political football with our public education system and the public at large waiting for the “next election” to change things. Seems like the definition of madness – doing the same things in the same ways over and over and expecting different results!

    • Anonymous says:

      8:27am you are so right. 40 years ago, everyone could read, write and when they got out of school they all got a job, whether it was for government or the banks. Now we are left with children that get out of school, with no skills, can’t read, can’t write and basically don’t care. Then the government previously was giving scholarships out to kids that didn’t need it for their parents were well off. Gave them money to pay their tuition and with whatever was left over they could do with it as they pleased.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is no means testing for scholarships, so middle class Caymanians with two very good salaries can get their children educated FREE while you have children going to school hungry.

        • Anonymous says:

          No to mention friends and relatives of the previous Government, highlighted by one well connected student who managed to obtain THREE scholarships simultaneously. Only in the Cayman Islands!.

        • Anonymous says:

          There are many kinds of scholarships and I’m in no way rich or middle class but if a student has worked hard and made good grades why shouldn’t they get a scholarship? My only objection is to the below: one student getting three scholarships from government.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Not sure what the issue is with her speech. She has made up my mind about staying in Cayman as paradise is not all its cracked up to be. Luckily I have a choice.

  19. Anonymous says:

    What a horrible speech from a horrible minister of education to start the school year.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Only too more years colleagues, only two more years. Do not give up as these people on the podium have proved that the children in Cayman need us. They are a walking, talking example of the failures in the past education system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately 11:20am two years she can do a lot of damage, as a matter of fact what we have can all do a lot of damage….osbourne, which got forgotten about now we have Eden Suckoo and I forget the other one lol

  21. Anonymous says:

    The performance of two of the speakers was abysmal and that is putting it lightly. “See me” You can catch me any day at lunch time, before school and after school helping struggling students.

  22. Anonymous says:

    what part of the e&y report said that?

    • Anonymous says:

      That report was never going to be implemented and trust me neither will these two be either. Meant to ask which version of the reports is she talking about.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations on a well written article. Perhaps you should take over the writing of the Ministers speeches.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I refuse to get upset by that speech. Why? Because the woman is an irrelevance. Election soon come.

  25. Anonymous says:

    If anything was said of any significance in relation to raising the achievement of our young people could you please enlighten me. At my primary school we are working hard to raise standards and we are attending any training that will help us in that goal. What more can we do when the parents send “the best they have”.

    • Anonymous says:

      The message from the Minister I took away was not the one intended by her namely “as Minister for Education I will bring in an inspection team who have NEVER been inside a state school and get them to do a baseline assessment so that I have ammunition to go down the academy route”. Of course that was never going to happen so now, with only two years left before election, she needs to make a mark and change something to make it her own and give her friends in C4C something back for making her queen. Except she has not run this by her own staff such is her lack of trust and certainty that her inexperience and ignorance far outweighs her own experts knowledge. Fret not, the woman will be gone come the election and we teachers will give a huge sigh of relief.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Never ever felt so deflated returning to school. Talk about a de-motivational speech. We await with bated breath her “solutions”.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Yes she did congratulate herself a lot, “her ministry and the government for coming through on what she had promised last year, including asking the deputy governor and the POCS to look at the two phases of the salary issue. She said they had received the report on the local inequities just last week and Cabinet had acted promptly”. I am not sure why. Who ever does her performance management really needs to give her some career advice; “education is not your thing, nor is public speaking”, so perhaps best to start looking for a job. Not going to be fooled next time, I promise you!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Ensuring that teachers have sufficient equipment and supplies in their class rooms and do not have to pay out of their own pocket to contribute supplies would go a long way.

    Perhaps it would also help to have parents at least contribute towards transportation to school rather than providing a free ride to all public school kids and use that cost saving towards increase of teachers salaries.

    Teachers in Cayman are treated in a complete appalling and unappreciated manner – it is very sad to see.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Minister Rivers for the one hour long rambling, repetitive, ill judged welcome back speech. The response from the audience should have told you all you needed to know but just in case here are a teachers thoughts:

    Please do not patronize us with an explanation of what a SMART target is especially when your own Ministry and indeed your speech proves, you have no idea how to implement one.

    Please do not mention how credible the external reports were when they were undertaken by people who know nothing about pedagogy, know nothing about state schools and certainly were not allowed to know anything about the journey we as teachers have been on. We know there are still mountains to climb but we are rising to the challenge and our results have been going up year on year. By the way we cannot compare ourselves to the UK because 30% of our children go to private schools.

    Please do not mention ever again “Children first, no excuses, just solutions”. It is a meaningless phrase and sounds like a slogan that a Year 6 student might have come up with. Also your speech was short on solutions. Perhaps under your nose you have experts who could actually help you understand if you ever took the bother to assume intelligence and expertise on their part.

    You claimed it was a new era for education in the Cayman Islands. One of your smart targets might be to be specific. What new era, how, when and how will it materially raise standards.

    You mentioned how much more autonomy schools will have, does that mean we will be able to terminate the employment of ANY teacher, regardless of their status, should they prove to be ineffective teachers?

    You mentioned the local inspection person. Is this the same person who presided over inspections when ALL our schools were failing so miserably leading to the dissolution of the department?

    So Minister Rivers what is your excuse for failing to subject your speech to the SMART test?

    • Anonymous says:

      She also mentioned trust in her speech. How about trusting some of the people who work with you? If you had you just might have made a more coherent speech that was relevant to us teachers in the classroom. Get your own house in order is my advice to you. You have not only made yourself a laughing stock amongst us in the teaching profession you have also exposed your ignorance on education both internationally and nationally. As the poster said “election soon come”.

      • The seeker says:

        She will never take any advice from her staff- I don’t understand why she feels so threatened by them. They are all there to assist her but her consistent brushing them aside is systemically turning on herself and destroying the entire education system. I think the Premier needs to sideline her before it is too late. She is only making the rest of her staff look stupid, thankfully the public knows who are capable and who are not .she has staff who could make her look good if she would give them half a chance.

        • Anonymous says:

          Agree but McLaughlin has not got a clue. Remember his response to the ozziegate affair? Just like her he knows nothing about education and certainly knows nothing about people or motivation or respect or anything about leadership not to me tion recognizing a rogue Minister.

        • Anonymous says:

          Reshuffle now Premier before its too late.

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