Teachers blamed for achievement gap

| 11/09/2015 | 136 Comments
Cayman News Service

Education Minister Tara Rivers at press briefing

(CNS): The quality of teaching has been blamed for what consultants and school inspectors have described as an achievement gap for Cayman students compared to those in the UK and other leading economies. Releasing an education review by management consultants as well as a baseline inspection Thursday, government officials also launched another new education strategic action plan aimed at improving teaching standards and leadership in local schools.

Despite significant progress in schools over the last few years, both the findings of the baseline inspection conducted by a team of private school inspectors and an overall review of the schools’ governance by auditors KPMG were, as expected, very critical of the local education system.

The review said most Caymanian schools would be in ‘special measures’ if they were in the UK, meaning that they would be considered failing schools, and the baseline inspection found achievement was below expectations, with “significant underperformance” at all stages of education, which the inspectors said was down to the quality of teaching.

At a press briefing held by the education ministry about the inspections (although the reports were not available to the press or public until after the conference), Minister Tara Rivers revealed the latest education plan of action introducing more changes to the system, which said was a direct response to the recommendations in the reports.

2015-2016 Plan of Action – Overview Document

Speaking about support for teachers, equity in pay, more resources, restructuring management and requirements for more accountability from teachers and other changes, Rivers said the latest strategy would focus on literacy as the foundation for all other learning. She said its objectives were “rooted in research” and it was no “fly by night or ill-informed strategy”.

Both the review and inspections were very critical but they acknowledged the significant improvements in recent years and pointed to some best practice in schools. The minister said that these would be built upon and the shared across the system.

The reports reveal significant discrepancies in performance of schools and reflect in many respects the socio-economic circumstances of their student intake and the resources available.

External exam results (CXC, GCSE, etc) at the Layman Scott High School on Cayman Brac for five Level 2 passes including maths and English at the end of Year 12 were considerably higher at 65% of students than the two high schools on Grand Cayman, where at Clifton Hunter only 35% of kids were reaching the target and at John Gray it was just 28%.

For Key Stage 2 results in English and maths in the primary schools,  Spot Bay on Cayman Brac was the highest with almost 89% of 11-year-old kids reaching the Level 4 standard. Red Bay and Prospect school students also reached the 86.8% and 84.9% respectively. Savannah managed 69.8% and Cayman Brac’s West End Primary 66.7%. But only 55.6% of students at Bodden Town Primary, 53.3% in East End and just half at Edna Moyle in North Side achieved the target in the core subjects. Just 46.7% made the grade at George Town Primary and at John Cumber in West Bay less than 37% of 11-year-olds achieved the required level.

Among the criticisms made by the inspectors, the report said neither the students who were struggling nor those who are more able were getting the support they needed.

“Expectations of all students are too low, with few reaching above expected levels at the end of Key Stage 2,” the report stated. They found that attainment levels on entry to secondary school was generally low.

“Results of standardised tests of attainment indicate that students’ performance in English and Mathematics is below UK norms,” the report stated.

While local schools are not faring well when compared to the UK or the world’s leading education performers, the report acknowledge that in comparison with “other schools in the Caribbean region, English results were a little below the regional average up to 2011 but since 2012 they have been above average for the region”.

Criticising teachers, the inspectors said the quality of teaching across the ten primary schools ranges from good to inadequate. They said teaching is pitched at the wrong level, learning is slow and explanations are lengthy, so students’ concentration wanes and behaviour deteriorates.  “No school provides teaching that is consistently good across all age groups and subjects. Teaching does not often reach a dependable standard that would support and sustain students’ progress,” the inspectors foun.

The inspectors said that in all schools, there are instances of very good teaching but overall teaching was “unsatisfactory in whole or in part”, and not enough was being done to address weaknesses in teaching or to help teachers by school leaders.

“In too many lessons, the teaching is uninspiring, students become disinterested, behaviour deteriorates, and little is accomplished. In some lessons, where behaviour deteriorates, maintaining discipline rather than fostering students’ learning becomes the main focus of the lesson or alternatively an over-emphasis on discipline stifles students’ interest and involvement,” the inspectors found.

A catalogue of recommendations were made by the inspectors as well as KPMG and officials said these recommendations were part of the action plan which has now been published.

The KPMG review and the baseline inspection reports are available on the ministry website along with the progress report and the action plan.

See documents here

But the chief officer in the ministry, Christen Suckoo, said government was not releasing the data report this year as there were “problems with the quality of the data used”. He said the technical team reviewed the data and found “inconsistencies” in past information gathering and as a result the figures required a thorough review. He added that the “decision was not made lightly” but it was essential that the information being used was accurate and transparent. He confirmed that the inaccurate data had been collected by education ministry staff but the individual responsible at the time was no longer employed by government. He said the aim was to release the statistics in March next year.

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Category: Education, Local News

Comments (136)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The teachers are responsible for failing management and a Ministry of Education that is not fit for purpose. While you are at it they are also responsible for global warming, the crisis in the Middle East and indeed for a morally bankrupt Cayman. Get rid of the teachers and your problem will be solved.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is sickening how the Government continues to coddle the citizens of this country! Teachers are put in schools to teach children, not to raise them! In most societies it is expected that when a child attends school they know how to socially interact, can follow instructions and have respect for authorities (ie teachers, staff). Those are all basic skills which should be taught at home. However, in Cayman, it seems that way too many parent confuse school with child care and feel they can assign their “problem” to someone else for a few hours/day and then have the nerve to get offended when a teachers ends up reprimanding their child.

    Tara, instead of demoralizing teachers, perhaps you should slap some of those useless parents upside down their head and give them a good wake-up call?!??!

    • Anonymous says:

      While few people would disagree with your diagnosis, there are some obvious problems with your prescription. Tara isn’t the Minister of Parental Effectiveness and therefore has no jurisdiction over the parents!

      Blaming the parents just isn’t going to help. You can try to change their minds through PSA’s and outreach but those most at fault are the least likely to engage. What then? Give up on those kids?

      In addition I find it difficult to believe that Caymanian parents are any “worse” on the whole than those anywhere else in the world.

  3. Cass says:

    Teachers have no control over the curriculum. The Ministry of Education does, they made those detrimental changes, they changed the time-table also and it DOES NOT WORK. But, hey, let’s blame the teachers…..right.

  4. Anonymous says:

    While I don’t doubt there are teachers in the Government schools who are far below standard (that’s true of any organization), I’d like to point out two things:

    1. If a teacher has just one disruptive student in their class it makes teaching the other 20 to 30 students almost impossible. Some classes at Government schools have more than one disruptive student, and I don’t think teachers are given the support they need, nor the training to deal with these students.

    2. Just about every bank, law firm, professional firm in Cayman provides 20, 40, even 80 hours of continued professional training for staff at all levels. How much training/professional development does CIG provide to its teachers? And I don’t mean one or two teacher training days, I mean personalized training addressing the specific needs of each professional teacher?

    Just my thoughts.

  5. No Soup for You says:

    Madame Minister, teachers aren’t clowns – they are not there to entertain the absent-minded students. They are there to teach. Many of us remember the days when we went to school to learn. It was expected of us. We didn’t go to school to clown around, to get into trouble, or to disrupt everyone’s learning. We went to school to get good grades, to learn, to get an education. Government schools are full of derelicts and full of kids who can’t sit still for more than a minute, not because of a mental deficiency, but because they haven’t been taught how to do so. They have no rules at home, no routines, nothing that would teach a kid to do what is required in a school setting. Schools are full of kids whose parents use the schools as a baby-sitting service. These kids can’t read, they can’t write, they can’t do math, they can’t pay attention if their lives depended on it. When they get home they are let loose for hours on end on the neighbourhood, with little supervision. Any wonder that they don’t know any better. Who suffers??? The ones to suffer are the few students who are there to learn, the ones who are low but at least are decently behaved, as well as the teachers. Asking teachers to be clowns, to entertain the absent-minded students is no solution. You want clowns Madame Minister then go to a circus. Casting blame on teachers is not a solution either. It has nothing to do with the teachers but everything to do with the quality, or lack thereof, of the students. You can spray perfume on cow shit all day long, but it’s still gonna smell like cow shit in the end – perfumed cow shit. This Minister, like most others gets a failing grade. She isn’t even bright enough to know when it is best to keep her trap shut. No soup for you Madame Minister!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      As a teacher I am fully in support of them and think it is unfair that the failure of this society and its students is being heaped wholly on our shoulders. That said, we must take some responsibility if

      “These kids can’t read, they can’t write, they can’t do math, they can’t pay attention if their lives depended on it”

      We have to ask ourselves what can we do differently for these children to ensure better outcomes for them. It is not just the teachers that are failing them, it is a whole system and society.

      • No Soup for You says:

        I apologize but I’m going to have to disagree. There is little one can do to ensure better outcomes for those who do not wish to learn. I don’t blame you for asking that question – I could be wrong, but my take on it is that you work in a private school where you’re not exposed to the craziness of a government school. If you were to work at a government school you would soon come to realize that there is little one can do for those who not want to learn. I am not talking about the lower spectrum kids, I am talking about the derelicts and others who aren’t in school to learn. Piling in the high and low achievers together with the derelicts doesn’t help anyone. There is a reason that parents send their kids to private schools – it’s not necessarily because of the teaching, but to get as far away as possible from the Zoo-like environment in public schools.

        • Anonymous says:

          I teach in a government school but am blessed with a disposition where I go to work every day and against the odds believe that I can make a difference. We teachers are treated disgustingly, this present Minister for Education is a complete failure, but if I am to stay doing the job I am doing, I have to believe in myself as a “teacher” and in the children. We have some very damaged young people in the system. Instead of spending huge sums on reports, why not just for a change actually spent the money where it is needed which is in offering interventions from birth to five so that our children are ready to learn when they arrive.

        • Anonymous says:

          Not all the schools are zoo like. I think you mean JGHS.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What would work to improve the education system:

    1) Income tax. Yes, let’s face it a country that does not pay income tax cannot expect much from public services.

    2) Streaming. Assuming income tax is off the table. Stream and stream hard. Then focus resources hard on the top streams. The underclass lower streams will never achieve anyway.

    3) Allow foreign kids in for free. Middle class parents make a big difference to school performance. Allowing expat kids would shift the parent socioeconomic demographic upward massively in one move, with immediate positive effect on the schools.

    1 and 3 are politically unacceptable to the current crop of inferior spineless politicians.

    • Anonymous says:

      While you are right on the button with 1 and 3. Further entrenching the underclass of Cayman will in the end be counter productive. The best performing countries do not stream and do not see the need to do so.

    • Anon says:

      Income tax would only be useful if funding was an issue. As reported in Compass article of November 2014: “Pointing out that the Cayman Islands government brings in just as much tax revenue, per capita, as the governments of Canada or the United States, Ernst & Young partner Kieran Hutchison recently sought to belie the idea that Cayman’s public sector is somehow starved of funds.”

      Cayman government is awash with money – how they are spending it is the real problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        But the US and Canada have a higher proportion of children of middle class parents in public schools, so Cayman needs more funding. And US public education is not the greatest.

        • Anon says:

          Huh? You were talking about the ci government needing more $$ to provide better public education. What I am pointing out is that they already take in vast sums in fees. I.e. they don’t need any more money they need to make better decisions on how to spend it. Last time I checked Cayman didn’t have the huge military that the USA has sucking up 5% of GDP nor does it have the expansive social services of Canada. Education and training should be a priority spend for Cayman Govt. instead of whatever hole they are currently pouring it down.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The schools need to start teaching sex-ed and providing access to birth control to the students.

    The time honored system of preaching abstinence and pretending that children are not having sex obviously is not working.

    The phrase ‘Babies having babies’ is sadly a very real one in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree, but shouldn’t that be also taught at home???? Let’s stop assigning responsibility of teaching children to anyone and everyone else. Certain “life” lessons should be taught by those who decided to put a child in the world. It is the responsibility of each parent to ensure that their children become a functioning member of our society.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good idea to teach it at home. The teenage mother who never used birth control can teach it, or the absent father.

      • Anonymous says:

        @10:01 – I agree that teaching a child starts at home, however, the parents (of babies having babies) themselves are obviously not using birth control, so they are obviously not going to teach their children any better.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Babies having babies”

        Many parents are still children themselves.

        They have no concept of “life lessons”.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I will never subject my child to our public schools. I have a 12 year old car that survived Ivan. I can barely pay my bills each month. I cannot afford nice new things, that my co-workers with kids at govt. school have, because I am paying private school fees. But, my child is actually receiving an education, and that is something priceless.

    • Anonymous says:

      Madam, I fear you are very much mistaken in your contention that a child attending a public school does not receive an education. The vast majority of our Caymanian population received a public school education. Please bear in mid that when JGHS ceased offering A level its students attended sixth form at Prep or Catholic and performed outstandingly. As I said, you are mistaken.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What a stupid, cowardly, crock of crap. Really? The teachers are the problem? The lazy ass, drug addled parents, and our obtuse ministers are the problem

    • Anonymous says:

      Tara is a fool…..Tell her to get some common sense…The she needs to know the factors that contributes to this report….comparing UK to Cayman is like comparing apples and oranges..

  10. Anonymous says:

    I teach at a government school. The inspections highlight problems we all already knew.

    1. Poor teachers. There are plenty of them, I am sure. Get rid of them? Good luck. I have seen great teachers come, get treated abysmally, then leave. There are not enough skilled local Caymanian teachers, and never will be. There are also plenty of staff promoted waaaay beyond their capabilities. Morale is low due to a steady erosion of the benefits package for teachers – which makes it even more difficult to recruit good teachers. No representation or protection, with unions effectively banned, staff have no voice. Upset the apple cart, guess who won’t get a new contract?

    2. The powers that be. Where to start? Half-baked and half-cocked ‘strategies’. Poor teachers shuffled into ministry positions. Stupid policies made by people who don’t have to enforce them, and who definitely don’t see the results of their great ideas. Blinkered approaches from people who cannot see what is really happening.

    3. Resources. Broken copiers, a lack of PAPER, classes that can contain almost half of the students on the SEN register yet have no additional support. Budgets slashed every year. Worthless staff development schemes. Absenteeism causing stress on staff who have to cover in their non-contact periods. Over 100 million dollars spent on a new school that inhibits raising educational standards, whilst leaving a shell of another school next to a decrepit ‘temporary solution’ for another high school.

    4. Parents and students. There are LOTS of wonderful students here, with equally wonderful parents, but for the most part they are overshadowed by deadbeat/absent/useless parents and their charming offspring. Inclusion approach mandates that some very disturbed children are often left to run amok in a class. Kids with iPhones, but no pens. Latest Air Jordan’s, but no food in their belly. Kids coming to school on Monday, in filthy unwashed clothes. Kids who cannot read or write 4+ letter words sitting exams. Kids who are immersed in gang culture at their home. Kids who think nothing of abusing and killing iguanas, chickens and any other unfortunate animal that crosses their path.

    In spite of the above, there are improvements being made, but there is a long, long way to go yet…but Tara, don’t blame the teachers wholly for this message, because most are far from culpable and see through your nonsense platitudes.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a former teacher, I can say you nailed it 12:36.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tara, this attack on teachers is not just morally wrong, it’s sabotaging the education system. Cayman will miss out on generations of talented graduates who will not want to join a profession that is constantly derided.

        • Anonymous says:

          The attacks on teachers are too much to bear for this teacher! Put simply: teachers are put in classrooms with inappropriate quality. If a “special needs” team were employed (and these days that would have to be a great number), then students would get the “team members” appropriate for the pedagogical instruction. INCLUSION does not work and teachers were never expected to teach BOTH mainstream and S.E.N. (non-gifted… low end of spectrum)). Round pegs in square holes! Doesn’t work!

          • Anonymous says:

            I disagree. Inclusion does work if it is done properly. If you put all the sen children into one class, they do not learn anything from their peers. In English lessons they would not hear the rich vocabulary from the other children that will move them forward. I have worked in sen schools for autistic children and sometimes the expectations of the children are so low that they don’t learn anything. In mainstream schools, the sen are with their peers learning the same things, but given work at their level. They get to play together and work in groups together that will help them progress much more than if they were all in one special ed school, not being able to string a sentence togther between them all.
            They do need support, but it is up to the teacher to differentiate the lessons so they are able to do work at their own level. The trouble is, some teachers can’t be bothered to do this and they give the children in their class all the same work. The poor Sen kids just fall further and further behind.

            • Anonymous says:

              Pray tell me how any human teacher can cope with and differentiate when they have a minimum of 6 children with special needs. You cannot give a rich curriculum coping with 20 plus different needs unless you give boring work sheets which means there is no interaction going on or peer learning.

              • Anonymous says:

                20 plus different needs? In one class? Really? Yes, you might have 6 children with SEN, but if its done properly with extra hands to help and decent teaching assistants it can be done. But with a teacher alone, I agree that it can’t. The SEN need extra literacy and math support too which will involve them being taken out of class for some time, but not forever like some people want. I’m sure some peope would just want to sit them in a cupboard somewhere and hope the SEN fairy comes to sort them out.

              • Anonymous says:

                And here you mention the SEN children but there would be other children in that same class with social and emotional needs.

            • Bill Hayden says:

              This is the sort of vapid discredited Gareth Long consultant type of BS that resulted in us having that useless open plan Clifton Hunter building for $100 million, 2;47. Cayman-like England- has for far too long been bedeviled with this left wing warm and fuzzy lets bring them all together in an exciting educational experience where slow learners learn from the bright ones and the bright ones learn how important it is to wait for the slow learners to catch up. The scenario you describe is exactly that of numerous consultants here and in the UK who got out of the classroom as quick as they could because of the horrors they experienced trying to teach broad mixed ability classes and then they became consultants telling those left behind how it was all very easy so long as you followed the “inclusive” teaching rules-“differentiate” -that they themselves could not get to work but which undoubtedly salve the consciences of those with “all children are equal and should be taught together” principles.

              • Anonymous says:

                Gareth Long left wing: you clearly do not know the man

                • Anonymous says:

                  I don’t think the poster meant that Mr Long is necessarily left wing, just the philosophy behind the terrible conceptual design of Clifton Hunter he was so instrumental in. And despite the $100 million (and rising), it still got a crap review by the inspectors.

                  • Anon says:

                    I am left wing and even I can see that the Clifton hunter design was idiotic and the costs were out of control.

                    Idiocy is not a specific left/right political leaning.

                    Believing that government needs to interfere in markets to ensure that public “goods and services” are supplied which would otherwise not be provided by the private sector doesn’t mean that they should not be held accountable for their mistakes in the provision of those services and be required to provide value for money.

              • No Soup for You says:

                Yes, yes, and yes. Their next idea is to stick in some cows and pigs in for good measure and make it really inclusive. These people have no shame. They are the smart ones. They got out and left the rest of us holding the bag.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tara did not prepare the inspectors’s report. Blame the inspectors if you don’t like what they had to say, not the Minister.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m blamin’ both of them to ensure whoever’s responsible gets it in the neck. It’s the most sensible thing to do if you think about it. Thank you.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I nore the KPMG report mentions the success of free school. Please note since free schools were introduced, the counztry has slipped in the world rankings. If so a high profile mistake could be made in the analysis, what other misinformation is contained in the KPMG report. Bullying teachers, establishing targets to be met by management etc will not improve teaching in the classroom. Why not start looking at your hr practices, your retention policies, your Ministry and of course the dept of Education which has an actig CEO from one of those miserably failing schools.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Historically the good performance at Layman Scott High School / Cayman Brac High School has been attributed to a) small class sizes and b) the more involved community aspect in Cayman Brac. In the press conference both Christen Suckoo and Tara Rivers said much the same thing in response to a question from press. Can they then explain why the inspection reports of both primary schools on the Brac had less than flattering reports and were graded inadequate across the board? Surely, if the only reason that the high school achieves well is because of the small class sizes and community aspect, wouldn’t it logically follow that both the primary schools, which also benefit from an involved community and even smaller class sizes than the high school, would be achieving well?

    • Anonymous says:

      The latter part of your comment supports the argument that it is not the small class sizes that make the difference but rather the quality of teaching and learning as well as the quality of leadership and management within the schools. The Brac High school has some very good teachers who are dedicated to their students and most go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their success. Unfortunately, there is no consistency with the quality of teaching and in the management within the Brac primary schools. There are some good and very dedicated teachers but there also those who simply don’t care and regardless of what they do, will be guaranteed a place in the classroom. Performance management should be as robust for all teachers regardless of immigration status. Read between the lines although they are rather thin.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Notice there’s been no public comment from the former ExCo Member for Education 1976 – 84. It was his “expert stewardship” (bumbling interference) into the education system which took national education standards downhill. Not to mention his Leader’s and Government’s misplaced nationalist rhetoric which hatched the entitlement mentality and fueled broader issues.

    No comment, of course. He’s well set as a multi-millionaire retiree. What does he care?

    Sad thing is, there have been no solutions ever since to repair the damage. The generation of children which was directly affected 30 and 40 years ago are parents and grans now. The effects of how their offspring were raised and educated is very evident in our society now. Any positive changes implemented (whenever that might take place) will take another two generations to take root – if at all.

    Unity Team/National Team legacy!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I grew up in a private school and I now go to JGHS.

    Tbh, the children here treat teachers like trash. Speaking out of term, doing stuff their own way and I absolutely find it so disgusting. (Thank God for Sets…..too bad it was only for 3 subjects.)

    In my opinion, the majority of teachers here are really great but sometimes they tend to be less enthusiastic about their work and they have no IDEA how to HANDLE their own students.

    Like common….

    The students are literally walking over them, (like they’re some superior being or something).
    I also believe that it is the students’ choice whether they want to learn or not. If they want to become successful, then at least try to make it happen. If you want to focus on being popular, badass ect. might as well work as a Janitor.

    JGHS has always been pointed as the worst. The reason?

    “Influence” upon the students that is what it is.

    Tara, If your blaming the teachers, that’s low..real low.
    btw… WHO PLACE THEM THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE ANYWAY?!?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Just compare inspirational educational mottos from other places to what Tara claims is the Cayman Education motto. At whom are these bellicose sentence fragments aimed?
    “Children First. No Excuses. Just Solutions” Sounds like the “School for Angry Uncompromising Educators” or maybe Scientology?

    • Anonymous says:

      Children first, but only after we do not put them first by abysmal HR practices, giving teaching jobs to those not suited to the classroom, by giving teaching assistant jobs out like candy to any local who cannot get a job, by promoting poor teachers out of the classroom into the Ministry. By making political decisions rather than ones that actually put children first. The list is endless as to why the children in the Cayman Islands are never put first and “children first” is a mere slogan.

  16. Anonymous says:

    HERE WE GO AGAIN! Blame the teachers once more. By the way, how many good ones were rolled over? How about poor home background, alcoholic and drug using parents, societal break down, constant curriculum and system changes, lack of control and discipline in the system, deviant students mixed in with those who want to try, poor leadership etc etc. No, but it is convenient to blame those who do not answer back, vote, or even count!

    Start with tackling discipline in the schools (and homes) and there might be a chance to improve!!! K..IS.S. – Keep it simple st…….!

    • Anonymous says:

      and stop promoting people from failing schools to high positions like the current CEO.

    • Anonymous says:

      Word has got around that teaching in Cayman sucks. As an expat you will have virtually no free time to plan because you will be covering constantly for the large rate of absenteeism among Caymanian and status holder colleagues, the package is poor and that contracts can be changed at any time. The management in schools is poor and the Minister Tara Rivers who knows zilch about education will fail to address the real underlying issues that are to do with structural inequalities, poorly supported teachers, inadequate reachers that cannot be got rid of. Yes word has got around that Cayman is not a good place to work in education.

  17. lo-cal says:

    Here is some consulting for free:

    1. A child should not start school until they are 6
    2. Focus on the core subjects English, Math, Literacy (reading and understanding)
    3. If the child fails to meet the minimum passing grade, do not advance them to the next year.

    Now i am no specialist but these simple measures which should be basic policy will go a long way to ensure the standards are improved.

    Why? when you start at 6 you graduate at 18. This is a huge difference from what we have now when a child can graduate at 15. The core subjects are the foundation for all other subjects without it you should just quit and pick up a trade. when the child and parent understand that they will not advance without a passing grade they are sure to put special emphasis on the child’s quality of work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Holding a child back in school does not work. It’s pointless if they are just going to sit and do nothing again. They need interventions and support, which until this year, they haven’t got. I’ll tell you what needs to be done:
      1. Parents need to stop swearing, hitting and threating their children.
      2. Parents need to help their children with the their homework and read to them everyday to give them a love of books.
      3. Parents need to feed their children before they come to school and the schools need to stop feeding the children crap like jam sandwiches for breakfast!
      4. Teachers need to plan their lessons and make them more interactive and engaging. They they need to cater to everyones needs, not just those who learn by listening. Too much talk and not enough action is going on in the classes.
      5. The government should let the primcipals decide who will work in their school to make sure the staff are a good fit and will gel together. Some Principals want rid of some of their staff because they are basically crap teachers, but they can’t do it and they didn’t even have a say in who they got in the first place!
      There are many more things I could mention, but what’s the point, it’ll fall on deaf ears anyway.

      • Lo-Cal says:

        Have you ever notice the difference in the behavior of a child from year to year? I have two and i can tell you a year of difference in a child’ development is huge.

        Another huge issue is that normal children are grouped in the same class with other children who have mental disabilities and or social problem which do not allow them to function as normal. Why are these kids not placed in an early intervention program in a separate facility?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yeah, starting school at 5 has really held all those private school kids back. Pffffft.

      What planet are you on? Your solution to kids being behind is to give them one year’s less education? Genius.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would normally support children starting school later but here in Cayman it is generally the only way to expose children to experiences that are sadly lacking in many homes. Children are left with minders who know nothing about high quality child rearing practices. Preschools are no better therefore schools need to start as quick as they can

  18. Anonymous says:

    Is this the report from the people who have never done reports on schools before?

    • Anonymous says:

      Now pay attention. They have inspected schools but never state schools and they were not allowed to talk to anyone except a certain person who seems, despite past performance, to have the ear of the Minister and was not even in the system. So everything is tainted. But we do have inadequate leadership, inadequate teachers and are poorly supported. It took the Minister a spend of 300,000 cayman dollars to find that out. Maybe she could not find the previous reports.

  19. Anonymous says:

    IF THE PARENTS DONT CARE THEN THE KIDS DONT this has nothing to do with teachers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nonsense. It’s in everyone’s interests that all Caymanian children are well educated. You can’t just say “the parents are the problem” and stamp your feet. They’re not going to change and if the parents are the problem the children shouldn’t be made to suffer as a consequence.

      Neither should the rest of society when they become drop outs and criminals in ten years time.

      Saying their parents should have done a better job isn’t going to help when they are robbing our houses, dealing drugs or in jail is it?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Funny, I remember a similar headline just a few short years ago. It’s always ” the teachers fault”. Never the parents or the oh so innocent children who are always on time for school/class, attentive, and excited to be learning. The youth are who will be leading this country in years to come. Leading it right in to the toilet if you ask me. The younger generation has no interest in school or learning. Then they grow up and into the workplace where lateness is the norm.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are CHILDREN! They need to be taught the love of learning from their elders. Teachers try to do it at school, but they don’t get it at home. Children learn by example, always. If they can see their parents reading and taking an interest in the world they live in, they will do the same. If the parents just swear, act aggressively, watch tv, surf social media sites and breed with each other then that’s what they will do. It’s not rocket science, it is fact that has been proven over and over again. Don’t blame the children, they don’t know any better. Unfortunately, neither do some of the parents so I suppose we can’t even blame them! The cycle of poverty and dysfunctional family life needs to be broken. More community support and role models that the children can look up to would do a world of good for everyone.

      • Anonymous says:

        “…and breed with each other…”

        Therein lies the problem.

        Many children come into this world unwanted; an unpleasant hang over after a good party.

        Solution? Explicit, age appropriate sex education and access to low cost birth control products without negative social stigma.

        This is not a quick fix. But over time there will be fewer unwanted pregnancies to young girls who do not have the emotional and financial maturity to raise a wholesome family.

        It takes many generations to fix a broken culture.

      • Anonymous says:

        That would take joined up thinking!

    • Anonymous says:

      Here’s the thing 4.13pm, policy makers have to focus on the things they can change and accept the things they cannot.

      They can’t change the kids, or the parents, they CAN change the teachers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well actually they cannot change the teachers that are not up to the job if they are Caymanian or have status.

        • Anonymous says:

          Status and PR has placed us into a Hell of a HOLE. We got the good, bad and the useless, so much so, we increased dependence on taxpayers. Those who cannot, and will not work, or are dependent on freeness, cancel their rights to stay and move them on. Stop encouraging them and our very own in leading useless lives.
          Stop allowing children from poor countries to clutter up the schools and add to the daily problems. A classic time for them to bring them and keep them here is during the summer.

        • Anonymous says:

          8:46, you have made a very important point: Some Caymanian teachers feel that they can do absolutely nothing and still maintain their jobs. Unfortunately, it’s not just a feeling, they can actually do that and are doing that. Sad reality.

    • Anonymous says:

      Then headline puts dull responsibility on the teachers. However, teachers are not in control of hiring, or leadership or indeed of curriculum or of past inspection. Teachers have been miserably failed year on year by the Ministry of Education and the Department of Education not to mention the local inspection department which was decommissioned. Yet the very people who failed so badly are now in charge of making a broken system better.

  21. Rp says:

    The teachers? Really Tara?

    Who employs the teachers? Who sets guidelines? Who should be in charge of monitoring teacher performance? Who sets curriculum?

    Isn’t it your ministry?

    This is like blaming poor business profitability on the office cleaning lady!

    • Anonymous says:

      She fails to grab hold of the sorrowful truth that her ministry and department of education are part of the problem, not the solution.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Dear oh dear. Tara is just spouting off a load of management techo-babblification.
    Someone needs to sit her down and force her to watch this video in its entirety.

    • Anonymous says:

      The woman has just made the most terrible mistake in blaming the Data Manager for the fact that she does not understand data reports. This man is the most honest, upstanding person you could meet and she is wanting to blame him for her own teams ineptitude. Words gets around Tara that our reputations are not safe in your hands. Disgusted and lots of people have taken note.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Blaming the teachers is the easy cop out. I suspect the problem lies deeper in both continual changes of curriculum, and of course the attitudes of the parents towards their school going children. Ultimately CIG also failed when if broke the previous school system, and its been in downward spiral ever since. Failure to fix it urgently (and the attitudes and expectations of certain parents) will only make Cayman a consistently less desirable place in future, and Cayman will self implode.

    • Anonymous says:

      I can assure you the curriculum is constantly changing at the private schools and in the UK. Why are their schools not failing as badly?

      Have you ever heard a child complain about their changing curriculum? No. Do they complain about bad teachers…?

  24. Megan Ritch says:

    Ms. Rivers, I could have told you this for free. Anyone who has not noticed our schools are far below average and teachers continue to advance students through the system without highlighting issues! When my daughter was in year 5 at Savannah Primary her teacher did not even take the time to underline grammatical or spelling errors for the child’s review in her English book! There may not have been many, but why not point them out! As a mom that attempts to review course work at home, I would go over the books with her and point out her mishaps so that the mistakes were not made again! But when I was in primary school our teachers ensured they used a red ink pen to underline errors, correct spelling and brought it to the child’s attention!

  25. Anonymous says:

    You can’t expect competent professionals to live on less than $50,000 a year. Most teachers here are paid between $3,000-4,000 a month and it is only possible to recruit the inexperienced or the incompetent at that level. The inexperienced move on quickly and we are left with the incompetent.

    • Anonymous says:

      And if we are left with the incompetent those are the people she plans to reward with an increase in salary!

    • Anonymous says:

      Except in the private schools, where teachers are paid the exact same.

      Oh, but then they’re not forced to hire or retain useless teachers through social employment policies. Parents that pay for schooling won’t tolerate bad teachers and neither will private school principals.

      Government schools never fire anyone no matter how bad they are.

      • Anonymous says:

        Even if they are not Caymanian. That we have substandard expats that we have imported to screw up the next generation is truly galling.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually we are paid a lot less in private schools. The difference is that we get to teach, yes actually teach instead of just manage behaviour . It is for that reason that many teachers opt to leave government and earn less in private school!

    • Anonymous says:

      When I attended High School, most of the teachers were English or Canadian, and some from the Caribbean.
      Get back to basics and get teachers who speak and the children understand.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry, but I just don’t think it’s about money.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Uneducated, inept, and morally bankrupt politicians are to blame for this, but they will be reelected by the semi-literate and socially dependent masses they have created.

    Many years ago JGHS had the best teachers because they paid 25% more than private schools and were able to select the best from among the many applications for a teaching post. Today, after the politicians drained the Treasury of funds and froze civil servant salaries for years, we are left with the older disenchanted teachers, a few who still love their work and the sense of satisfaction they get from moulding a young person, but mostly a set of teachers who took the job because it was the best paying job they could get. Giving them more money now isn’t going to make them better teachers.

    It’s a big problem and it is not easily fixed. We can only start to repair the damage by electing better politicians, but I don’t expect to see that in my lifetime.

  27. Anonymous says:

    There is a comment in the Compass listing how the education system in Finland is operated and one key factor that these people fail to realise is included in that list is the fact that the teachers in these successful models (Finland, Japan and Norway) also state that THE MAJORITY OF TEACHERS ARE NATIVES OF THEIR RESPECTIVE countries.

    Granted in Cayman we still can’t seem to be united and are clearly confused about identity or grasping on to American, or Jamaican, now English identities, so this could be a problem even if we could start focusing on getting the teachers in the classrooms.

    What is disappointing is that there is now performance measures specifically identified for first years of primary school, where the rate is already at 80% but nothing for teachers up to year 6. Is this equal treatment of staff? Will one performance measure help students to access their right to an education?

    Hon Rivers, I would like to suggest:

    all management of public schools have their contracts terminated for failure to perform or do their jobs and those recently promoted from these failing schools should resign.

    the money spent on retraining these teachers who have been part of the problem should be used to educate Caymanian teachers

    where Caymanian teachers have not been hired because of claims of not being able to deal with data management as effective means of class management, without factual basis should have their application reviewed and a complaint of unfair discrimination be filed

    FOI results clearly indicate that the majority of teachers are from Jamaican which does not mean we will be getting the best but simply acting as employer for the Ja government, why?

    performance should be based on school bonus for each grade level that have met their required targets

    • Anonymous says:

      Hahahaha. The majority of teachers on Finland are Finnish? You don’t say. How many people not from Finland speak Finnish? Ditto Japan, ditto Norway.

      So your solution to poor teaching standards is to further constrain supply of teachers? All I can say is it’s a darned shame they don’t teach basic economics in local schools.

      • Anonymous says:

        …and the majority of teachers, and prison officers, and police in Cayman seem to be …?

        • Anonymous says:

          1:17 Jamaicans. When Caymanians were policemen and prison guards, they were forced out to employ from back a yard. When one of their own enters the door, takes a seat, then the door is gradually slammed in your face and the door opens for their own.
          We created the problem, by being too willing to help others, and when they get in they show us the door. An good example of such a situation is the Health Authority.

      • Anonymous says:

        Generally the teachers teaching foreign languages don’t speak the native language. To teach English in Japan you just need to be a good English teacher with an English native tongue.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Anyone with any common sense, and the minimum of management skills (even outside of the field of education) will understand that how the education ministry is approaching the issue of teaching quality is totally wrong and, most importantly, utterly counter productive. The problem is that the ministry staff have no knowledge and understanding of how to address educational matters, which at one time was handled by trained professionals in the Education Department, relying on decades of experience, albeit as best they could given the political meddling that began about ten years ago with the advent of the blockhead “Oh! This is all SO exciting!” brigade How demoralizing for the teachers, as a whole, to be derided publicly, and in such an unprofessional manner as this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree with your conclusion but not your logic.

      What I want to know is how do the private schools manage to achieve far higher standards without either an expensive ministry or department of education breathing down their necks.

      Make all schools private and give parents a voucher. Shut the department and ministry, outsource the inspections (you already did!), save millions on admin and micromanagement, and spend the money on actual education.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for your measured response. I should reveal that I am a U.K. trained educator with some twenty-eight years of actual teaching service in the public school system here in Cayman. The key to addressing your inquiry in regard to “far higher standards” is rooted in the social and economic base of the student intake of the public and private schools. Your suggestion is certainly interesting!

        • Anonymous says:

          Yep. Research shows that the impact of children’s lives is 80% family/SES and 20% schooling. The majority of students in private schools such as prep are the children of educated professionals. These kids almost automatically do better than students with a lower SES. The problem with government school is most of the students need some form of intervention….I’m not saying the are SEN, but they need remediation…which pretty much does not exist.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s an interesting idea. A problem with this, however, is that private schools don’t have to accept or keep students. They can pick and choose. There would still be a necessity for an alternative public school for students with behavioral or learning issues, and grouping them all together is not such a good idea either.

      • Anonymous says:

        Em just look at their demographic. You will notice for one that the children in private schools tend to have much higher IQs and they can get rid of failing teachers. They are also better managed.

        • Anonymous says:

          It’s not a matter of IQ. Private schools don’t have to accept or retain students who are poor performers, disruptive, or have learning difficulties.
          More importantly, management at private schools hire teachers who actually like children.

          • Anonymous says:

            I stand rightly corrected.

          • Anonymous says:

            First paragraph very insightful. Which makes your second paragraph’s contention that teachers are hired to work in our public that do not necessarily “like” children all the more surprising. Are you sure about this? I have twenty-eight years teaching experience in the public school system and would be interested to learn upon what basis you make this claim.

        • Anonymous says:

          With all due respect, your comments betray an absence of knowledge, in my view. Do you have any experience in our local education system? I have some twenty-eight years, but then I am always open to correction from those who might know better!

  29. Anonymous says:

    caymanian entitlement mentality is to blame….. on the part of parents and students….
    where else in the world do people expect employment/opportunities to be handed to them just because of their nationality……

    things would change if partents/students knew that you must have qualifications and outcomptete people from all over the world for a job….

    • Anonymous says:

      That may be your prejudiced opinion but that is not what the report says.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, every country has laws which demand preference for their own nationals in employment, subject to treaty obligations.

      • Anonymous says:

        Our MLAs can’t seem to find those sections.

        This report should be extended to determine the level of emotional abuse by teachers, the unfair labeling and stereotyping by teachers, majority from Jamaica and not to worry that $4000 a month, children at schools with them getting all attention they need and all politicians dying to give status so they can get their voters.

      • Anonymous says:

        Indeed. But not, weirdly, here in the Cayman islands, where such thinking is derided by expats as “entitlement”, the cheeky bastards!!

      • Anonymous says:

        That is not true of the U.S.. As long as you have the right to work (ie do not reside illegally in the country) it is illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of national origin.

        • Anonymous says:

          Why not tell that to all the Caymanians graduating from US Universities who literally get rolled over after a year. Sure, expats fan get green cards in the states, just as expats can get PR here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes……it’s a shame but it is TRUE. Except the truth and learn from it.

      ( but people won’t , they will play the blame game over and over)

    • Anonymous says:

      46 likes. Hmmm I wonder whether the majorit of cns readers are expats. For anyone who cares to do a little reading of overseas publications you will note that the ‘entitlement mentality’ is something that has been highlighted by many countries, including England the USA as a problem. In some instances they say it is an attitude of the young and in others they say it is a native problem. What you will also find is that everyone expects to be handed a job in their own country. What’s the biggest complaint in England right now? ‘Those foreigners are taking away our jobs’. What’s one of the biggest hot-button issues in the USA leading into their election? ‘Those foreigners are taking our jobs’ – specific to the Mexicans right now. We all expect to be given first right of refusal to work in our own countries. The problem with the 46 likes is that you have conveniently forgetten that now that you are out of yours. Most hypocritical.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have heard this argument before, and as a US citizen I’d like to clarify: the people who come to the US illegally, the ones that people are complaining about, are generally uneducated, often have criminal backgrounds, and place a huge burden on the system because they cannot speak English, cannot work, and we provide them with free healthcare (medicaid) and free education (unlike Cayman, where expat children do not attend state schools). I do not know a single US/British/Canadian expat here in Cayman who compares economically to the millions of Mexicans, South Americans, and Central Americans who cross the border every year into the US.

        Regarding teaching: I am a professional middle school teacher and college professor, with a graduate level education, living here with my husband who is employed; neither of us have criminal records and we pay our own way. I worked at a school with some of the highest test scores in the nation. I have tried to work here and no one is interested in hiring me. Caymanians (I checked) in HR positions do not want to hire expats in the public system here (at least not those from the US–I’m not sure why Jamaicans are more readily accepted). They will accept me in the private system, but I wanted to make a difference in my new “home country” and thought I could do that here. I have volunteered to train teachers at one school in assessment and instructional methods/procedures for FREE, and been turned down (by a Caymanian). One of your higher education institutions also has no interest in hiring me even though I am more qualified, and have more experience in my area, than most of their faculty. I was given a “thanks, but no thanks.”

        You can’t blame teachers for that, and you can’t blame a lack of training when a person more than qualified is offering to do it for free and getting nowhere in the system.

        • Anonymous says:

          Unfortunately you are mistaken in relation to the immigration aspects. There are hundreds of foreign children in Cayman government schools. At George Town primary there were reportedly a majority expat children a few years ago. Just because they are not Canadian or British does not mean they are not expats. Even legal immigrants to the U.S. Have strict parameters on how they can work and for how long – unless they get a greencard.

          Thank you for your efforts on the teaching front.

          • Anonymous says:

            I do not have children here; I refer entirely to the information provided by the Cayman new resident publication, which says:

            “It is the Cayman Islands government’s stance that expatriates employed in the private sector who qualify to have their dependants on-Island with them (i.e. earn over CI$3,500 per month and have two dependants on their permit), should educate their children in private schools. If the government employs the expatriate, then the employee has the option of sending their children to a government school if there is space.”

            I also refer to the experience of my own Canadian friends, who left the island because they couldn’t afford private schools here and were told their children couldn’t attend government schools.

            I stand corrected if I was given incorrect information.

            I didn’t say anyone can work in the US; you cannot without a green card (legally, anyway). I referred only to the parallel that we complain about immigrants that the author was making; the millions crossing US borders do not, for example, earn over $3500 CI per month, as indicated above.

            My point was more related to the fact that I have volunteered assistance and it wasn’t wanted. Thank you for your appreciation. 🙂 Sometimes these things can sound contentious and I certainly didn’t mean to come across that way; simply sharing personal experience.

      • Anonymous says:

        Rubbish. There are laws in place that a company with more than 20 employees must employ x minorities. I know as I was classed as a minority.

        • Anonymous says:

          That is affirmative action; it’s race based, not based on nationality. It has to do with whether you are white or hispanic, etc. NOT your nationality. In fact, the EEOC says it’s illegal in the US to discriminate on the basis of national origin except in jobs related to certain sectors (ie the government). I know as I am both a minority and a US citizen.

    • Anonymous says:

      In regard to your inquiry, well pretty much every country in the world. It’s like, er, basic, reasonable thinking. I agree with you this should not be an explanation for a lack of effort, but the notion that any country’s children’s achievement level must be pitted against the children’s achievement level of any country in the world in order to qualify for a job in their own country is not rational, surely?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear! If the Inspectors really wrote “In too many lessons, the teaching is uninspiring, students become DISINTERESTED, behaviour deteriorates….” there is little hope.
    “Disinterested” does not mean the same as “uninterested”. “Disinterested” means without bias or neutral and please don’t say that because of regular and frequent misuse it has come to mean the same as “uninterested”. It has not.

  31. All Seeing says:

    In truth, the people who hired those teachers are the ones at fault. Them and the ones who set the hiring policies of course.

    • Anonymous says:

      The brightest Caymanian graduates do NOT want to teach in the public schools because they know very well what a thankless and difficult task it is compared to other good jobs out there. Sadly, our own teachers have traditionally been, at best, of mediocre standard because of this. No really good teacher wants to come to Cayman from overseas to teach nowadays. They did many years ago but then influential people like Roy Bodden and others complained there were too many British teachers and not enough Caribbean ones, the salaries grew uncompetitive and they did away with the contracted officers supplement and replaced it with pension which you can’t get until three years after you leave Cayman. When you add all that to the shocking behavior of far too many students and lack of support from parents, you get a lethal mix which leads to the poor results we see today. It will be monumentally difficult to change.

      • Teecha says:

        More Truman than Roy but yes.

        • Vladinir says:

          No, no no, 4:06, you cannot be a Caymanian and have been here over the last 30 years if you would think that Truman would want to have less British teachers. He was accused of being too UK oriented. It was Roy and people like Oswell and Gilbert and Lucille who were always crying out for Caribbean teachers and saying that the system under Truman was too UK (ie white) influenced. Truman can be blamed for some things but not that.

          • Anonymous says:

            And it continues to this day in current educational policies. Also in so far as higher education is concerned, all these “home-grown” local qualifications do us no favors. We would rather have the more recognized ones they supposedly replicate or equate to, so we get the recognition from employers and educators both in Cayman and abroad.

    • Anonymous says:

      OK, but the obvious thing to do is immediately conduct a fair and impartial assessment. Fire the lowest performing 30% and replace them with true proven experts. Place the others who are performing at anything less than a high standard on probation and give them the tools and support to improve. Repeat every spring until we only have high performing teachers and then cut any that fall below standards. But do it now! This issue is destroying the next generation.

      • No Soup for You says:

        Good luck finding any teachers buddy! Teachers are already being treated like trash. No soup for you!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree, we should fire the under performing teachers, but how do you decide who is under performing? You can’t just do it on the grades that the children get because that is unfair. I know some really hardworking teachers who struggle to get the kids grades up because they need more support ( resources and man power) from the school and the parents. If there are a high majority of children in the class with a special need, it is really hard to get their grades up if they are not getting the right interventions. If there’s only one teacher in the class they can’t help 6 children at once who need 1:1 support. Luckily, this year there seems to be more help, so things might change for the better.

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