PTAs raise concerns about education

| 08/02/2016 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service

Minister Tara Rivers Chats with JGHS PTA Representatives

(CNS): The education ministry has admitted that representatives from a dozen government school PTAs raised a catalogue of concerns about problems in the education system with the minister and government officials at a recent forum. In what was described as “an informative and sometimes heated discussion on issues relating to understaffing, disruptive student behaviour, lack of school resources and what they perceived as deficiencies in the education curriculum”.

The PTA leaders wanted to know when more teachers would be hired to deal with the literacy and numeracy issues and general understaffing; why textbooks have been removed from the education system; how to deal with students who are ‘acting out’ because of problems at home and subsequently preventing other students from learning; why the annual book fee was done away with; and why Year 12 has been changed.

While a release from the ministry did not provide answers to those questions, officials assured parents that many of the topics were on the ministry’s radar and that the new information that had been brought to the forefront would be investigated.

Education Minister Tara Rivers said the forum provided an opportunity for her and government education officials to hear from parents. “The goal for this exercise is to use the feedback provided at the forum to continue to develop or amend national and school education policies, and to raise the standards of education working to ensure that every child in the system is able to perform to his/her full potential.”

She said participation of parents was critical to the success of students and school improvement efforts. “This forum is a way to facilitate that active participation and dialogue with and among parent representatives from each school and key decision makers in the education system,” she added.

One main issue for schools is the challenges they face dealing with a significant number of students with special educational needs. Rivers said that the department has now employed a number of non-teaching Special Education Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) in all government schools to identify students with special needs, coordinate assessment and intervention, as well as monitoring progress.

Education Ministry Chief Officer Christen Suckoo said this was an important development because in the past SENCOs were teaching mainstream classes well as dealing with SEN students. “Taking them out of the classroom and having them focus on these students will allow them to give students with special needs and disabilities the full attention that they require, and we are excited about the progress we expect to see in this area,” he said.

Acting Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith said the education plan of action produced in response to the results of damning school inspections and reviews in 2014 would make senior management in the schools, the ministry and department accountable for delivering specific outputs.

“We are investing in, and providing support for our principals and other senior officials to empower them to lead their respective schools which can only benefit our students in the long term,” she added.

Cayman News Service

PTA representatives at the Parent Forum

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Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Its the parents to blame for many generations now stop passing the buck My parents couldn’t read but they made sure I could and they received no help or government handouts

    • Anonymous says:

      exactly your parents cared and even though they themselves were not educated they made sure you were educated. Your parents cared…..

  2. Anonymous says:

    THE PROBLEM IS SIMPLE WHEN THE PARENTS DONT CARE (or have to be to work at 7am) OR CANNOT SPEAK PROPER ENGLISH THAN HOW CAN YOU EXPECT the teachers or kids to care…….. how the hell can I see two little kids I mean no more that 6 years old waiting outside Swamp for the bus you think a parent in snug harbour is leaving their six year old to catch the bus by themselves.

  3. Anonymous says:

    A Telling stat is how few Ministers put their own kids in govermnent schools.

  4. Anonymous says:

    E-mails and empty promises is comfort to a fool. She wasn’t even at the meeting the whole time.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This was a Ministry pr story. What do all parents have to say about schools falling apart. No supplies. good teachers exodus. no pay for local teachers. drugs in schools. Etc

  6. Anonymous says:

    Time to realize that Tara Rivers has done a terrible job! All talk and very little action of substance and this general dissatisfaction shows it!!

  7. Party Done says:

    I know a couple of guys that could offer up some great classes in Creative Accounting.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Some people cannot be satisfied! If she gets people together she is wrong, if she doesn’t have meetings she is wrong. Why does everything have to warrant such negative responses!?! Every school system in the world has issues and we are no different, I am happy that at least they are being discussed and not brushed under the carpet!

    • Anonymous says:

      We no longer have a school system. We destroyed it a decade ago. Privatize it now before we destroy another generation with potential.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:26. There would be far less problems in the schools, if the immigration would put a STOP to the importation of children from certain areas, which increase cost to the public purse. Let them remain in their counties and stop expecting government to provide specialists teachers to tutor them or turn them loose in the schools to be disruptive, along with our own.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just as long as you stop expecting government to provide jobs that some locals are ill equipped to do, or stop expecting government to pay for middle class children to attend the private schools or providing non means tested fees for foreign third level education. Kettle and black come to mind.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tara the hatred that is directed towards you is of your own making. You lost all respect when you stood up in front of so many teachers last August and made “that” speech. Your speech writer should have been sacked on the spot and if you in fact wrote it yourself then you too should have been sacked. Since the you have continued in the same vain and you will pay a heavy price come election time. You will not care though as you will have your big fat pension to fall back on unlike many of your disenfranchised poor Caymanian people.

      • Anonymous says:

        At this stage I am of the view that she may even be responsible for climate change.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The SENCOs try to implement interventions, but because there are no supply teachers, every time a teacher is off sick or on a course, the intervention teacher gets pulled to cover those classes. The government need to sort out a pool of people who can go into schools and cover classes when there are staff absences. Otherwise, the interventions do not get done and the sen children do not get the support they need. Maybe they could hire some retired teachers who want to earn a bit of pocket money, or some newly qualified teachers who want to gain some experience.
    I know about these problems first hand, because I am a senco in a large school who has to deal with them everyday. Ms Rivers, will you please sort something out. Your moto is “Children First, No Excuses,” so put your money where your mouth is please and spend more on education. It is not quick fix of adding sencos, we need the resources to be able to do our jobs.
    Another problem in Caymanian schools is hiring teachers who are not good enough. Schools are not teacher training colleges. If a teacher is hired they should be able to do their job without having their hand held over everything. Yes, they can probably be trained up, but how long will that take? In the mean time, the children are stuck with an incompetent teacher for God knows how long. The children are the ones that suffer, especially if it’s in a primary school because they will have that teacher all day, all year. Too much effort is going into getting teachers up to scratch so that they are able to teach using an active teaching method rather than a chalk and talk teaching method which is prefered in Jamaica. It takes a lot of training to be able to teach and plan lessons without relying soley on textbooks. Cayman schools are not there to train teachers, they are there to provide a good quality education for Caymanian children.

    • Anonymous says:

      They also need intervention programmes for students who are not SEN students, but who need remediation. These posts need to be staffed with dedicated personnel who are qualified teachers trained in reading/math interventions.

      If the ministry actually put some money into the primary schools for things that mattered, instead of things they can point a finger at and say “Look what I have done” then we could fix it….and the secondary school would improve….

      • Anonymous says:

        There are such interventions in place but whether the teachers trained in those interventions actually implement them is down to the teachers, head teachers and their direct line managers which I think are called SsIOs’. We are not short of resources, just the will and ability to carry through.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please tell us to what did the JGHS school representatives (picture 1) refer in their time with the Minister?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Tara Rivers is the best thing that has ever happened to all the previous ministers of education. Always information gathering and analyzing but never doing anything. Total disaster.

  12. Anonymous says:


  13. SARCASM 345 says:

    Great job Tara!

    Whose fault is it now for failing to address these legacy issues over the last few years? We know it can’t be your fault or your hand picked management so please set us straight

    • Anonymous says:

      Nothing is Tara’s fault. Ever. She is a strong American woman let down by everyone around her. If only Tara was in charge of everything and everyone did what Tara said then the world would be perfect. Perfect like Tara. And shawls would be the height of fashion.

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