Education plan ‘much too ambitious’

| 01/12/2016 | 38 Comments

(CNS): A consultant engaged by the education ministry to review its education plan of action has described it as “much too ambitious” and warned that the content of the plan is unmanageable within the short time frame set out for implementation. The respected Canadian educational leader, Dr Avis Glaze, commended the plan as “cogent, coherent and comprehensive” but she warned that the ministry had to strike a better balance between ambition and realism to avoid demoralizing educators.

She pointed to the need for the “deep implementation of a few goals rather than tinkering superficially with many goals” in response to the political demands for immediate results.

Glaze recommended spreading the content of the plan over a longer timeframe by identifying what must be achieved in each year. She said the government should prioritize specific areas such as literacy, numeracy and improving discipline and behaviour.

The expert singled out the issue of teacher quality as the most important element of success in education.

“We know from many years of solid research in education that the strongest factor in determining student achievement is not school size, accountability measures, standards, social-economic status or even the aptitude of students,” she wrote, as she pointed to teachers as the critical factor.

In her review of the plan Glaze also urged the ministry to expand the communication strategy to include the media and families who do not have children in school. She said the ministry should meet regularly with the education reporters and newspaper editors to ensure that they understand the work being done across the system.

“If ever there is a new initiative or direction, face to face communication with the media is an important component” she said, explaining that the media can help improve public confidence in the education system.

“I also encourage you to develop a self-assessment tool for your system which schools can use to identify their successes and where they need to go next,” she said, in order to promote deeper learning and more long-term improvement.

Glaze issued a warning about adopting strategies, league tables or comparing schools publicly, that are still being used in some countries but do not work. “They will simply demoralize your staff and fail to get the results you desire,” she said.

She did not discuss the creation of academies and grant-maintained or charter schools with their own boards, or the direct involvement of the private sector, possibilities that the education minister has left open in the new education law that have had extremely mixed results in the UK.

Responding to the feedback from the consultant, Education Minister Tara Rivers said it was crucial to ensure the education department was on the right track and whether the plan embodied the principles, goals and strategies that reflect international best practice.

Rivers said that Glaze commended the plan and the process, pointing to its collaborative nature and transparency. The minister said the plan had “set the tone and outlined the requirements to ensure that public education in the Cayman Islands will improve”.

See the report and summary in the CNS Library

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Category: Education, Local News

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Another report is just what we needed, right? Will the Minister now pear down her ridiculous ignorant expectations following its recommendations. Of course she wont’ because her knowledge of the complexity of education is “nada”.

  2. Me says:

    It is sad what is going on with our own kids here on Islands. as I said to my daughter the other day Min Education do not care about your future as Min Education is happily & caring about herself collecting her thousands of dollars every month for doing nothing “nada”. Also children that can not behave at school send them back to their parents why the good ones have to pay for this bad apples? may these parents reap what they saw Teachers are also so afraid that they can no do nothing. I just can imagen this country in a couple of years. PPM, FOM ( full of myself) whatever do something…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Unless they plan to hire all new staff, and discipline unruly students. I do not see education for our youth improving anytime soon.

    JG admin staff are so busy dealing with the disruptive kids that when you ask them to clarify a simple issue with a set one, no problem child, they blow you off, or are actively rude. Their attitude is that you are wasting their time by being concerned about your child’s education. If you want anything done at the public schools, you have to be a tenacious, high riding bitch, or else they just blow you off.

    Students are not half as much to blame as the lame management at the schools. From selfish parents blocking the pick up area, to snotty admin staff, it is no wonder that our kids are at risk.

    There are many bright and hardworking students at JG. It is the staff and parents who need a refresher course on ethics. Check out how many JG staff send their children to private school. Which is a whole other discussion, re the idiocy of exclusionist politics,

  4. Anonymous says:

    PPM “much too ambitious” education plan….Now, that’s Progressive!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is the person who Caymanians have put in charge of education.What does that tell you about Caymanians?Looks like you are going to need more expats and a bigger jail in the future.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t generalize all of us Caymanians. Every Country in the world has its failures. Not all expats are experts although we Caymanians seem to let them believe they are and obviously some of you do and are very unappreciative of us, Caymanians allowing you to come here to live, thrive and make your fortunes off our backs without giving anything back save for negative criticism..

      For the record, I never voted for Tara or any of the PPM gang simply because of their previous record. Tara is but one Caymanian and their are lots of better qualified Caymanians that could do her job and do it well. Like politicians in the past that have been failures, she will be voted out in the next election and hopefully we will have someone better qualified as education minister.

      • Anonymous says:

        An interesting article to share within this discussion; taken from

        Look at the 4 key characteristics of the Finnish Education system which is considered the best in the world. Zero in on characteristics 1 and 3. Now compare these with practices in Cayman.


        1. Common, Consistent and Long-Term Policy:

        The models for teacher preparation and comprehensive education are 40 years old and do not change drastically from year to year. Unlike in the United States, Finland’s education policy is not tied directly to political parties or the “reform of the day.” Sustained, strategic policy and practice are the norm.

        2. Educational Equality:

        The Finnish system attempts to mitigate socioeconomic backgrounds, education is free, and well-organized special education and counseling are available to any student who needs them.

        3. Devolution of Decision Power to the Local Level:

        Leadership and management reside at the school level, with decisions about curriculum and assessment residing with the faculty.

        4. A Culture of Trust and Cooperation:

        In the Finnish system, trust and cooperation are based on professionalism. Teachers are viewed as professionals with academic expertise. There are no inspectors making sure that teachers are doing what they should, and there are no widespread national exams.

        I do believe that there needs to be some accountability and evaluation to help inform areas for improvement so I am too sure I totally agree with “no inspectors”. The system may need to be reviewed, as well as how the data gathered is used, but certainly a culture of trust needs to be established.

        The bottom line is that we need a system which is divorced from Politics!

      • Anonymous says:

        Okay, fair enough, but we are not all expats being critical. We are locals standing up for our country, our children and our future.

        And really, I think Tara was handed a big steaming pile, and hasn’t done that bad. She is in an unenviable position at best. At least she has tried. I just wish the PPM would not be so secretive. Why not release the Ritch report? By not releasing it they look guilty, or despotic. Neither of which benefit this rock.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I work in education and I have done so for five years.
    I have to say that standards of education has gone up since I arrived. The only thing that still annoys me is when they continue to employ teachers who do not know how to teach, in the hope of training them up. When they do this, the children’s education suffers for a whole year. Avis has said, the teacher is the most important factor, so I am asking the government to stop hiring incompetent people and the children will do much better. I am however, pleased by the new support staff and the phonic screening in years 1 and 2.

    • Anonymous says:

      And do those incomeptent teachers have a particular nationality?

    • Soiled Son says:

      “The standards of education HAS gone up…” Really?? They HAS gone up, have they? Hmmmh…

      “Avis has said, the teacher is the most important factor, so I am asking government…” The most important factor of ??? Could you kindly complete the sentence Genius before you move on to your next incoherent point…

      And, oh yeah, please go ahead and continue to ask government to stop hiring incompetent people – I’m sure they’re listening… Here’s a thought Genius, ask government to hire you as Chief Education Officer.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a child at JG and I have not been unhappy with any of the teachers. The problem is with school policies. Last week in mocks, a student was being extremely disruptive, making overt sexual noises throughout an exam. He was not removed from the room, he was not told to stop, he was not he was punished in any way. That is a failure of policy. And it hurts those children who want to learn to be forced to do so in an environment of administrative cowardice.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Another consultant paid to tell us what we already know this government is about sizzle not the steak. Education is a political game for Tara Rivers and her friends in the PPM not a priority the facts prove this

  8. Teecha says:

    There’s a plan?

    • Couldn't make this up says:

      Well, not so much a plan, but they have put together a sub-committee to discuss the required agenda for a conference of all stakeholders to discuss the outline of an RFP to engage a consultant to advise them what they already should know.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Typical ppm and tara all about politics

  10. Anonymous says:

    How about the ministry and department of education engage with the teachers and ask them what problems they’re experiencing, potential remedies and introduction of best practices.

    Teacher lay the foundation for education in every society..typical government engaging the policy makers/advisors versus interacting with the personal on the ground who enact change.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “We know from many years of solid research in education that the strongest factor in determining student achievement is not school size, accountability measures, standards, social-economic status or even the aptitude of students,” she wrote, as she pointed to teachers as the critical factor.”

    – There goes your problem. The critical factor is being ignored, demoralized and undervalued. Nothing matters more to a child in the classroom than his or her teacher. If only our educational leaders would fully understand that, then would we be achieving greater results in education. If they are the critical factors then treat them with respect at all levels and truly value their work and they will go above and beyond a job description. Empower them! Stop politicizing education! Tell the truth about system progress! Be realistic and empathetic about what can be done to improve the system. Stop changing plans every FOUR years! Stop fighting with each other, one administration against the next! Let it be our Agenda and not your Agenda! Step back and ask the question, who is truly first? Children? Really?

    • Anonymous says:

      In my opinion this consultation has made some sound observations and recommendations. Trouble is that our Government doesn’t know good advice when it gets it. Remember how much we paid for the concept of that school in North Side where the priority seemed to be the physical appearance of the building. It was claimed it was so complex no one in Cayman could build it. What a fiasco. Shame for Insulting Caymanian builders like that. So I doubt this consultants advice will be heeded. In fact we really shouldn’t need to pay someone to tell us that that the teacher is the most important.

      • Anonymous says:

        The main problem with the Minister is that she does not listen. She is so impressed by her own idea of her abilities that opinion of more knowledgeable people are not taken into account. It is a nightmare to work with her. She changes her mind like we change clothes. Her arrogance also does not endear others to want to give her any assistance.

        • Anonymous says:

          She loves the sound of her own voice too much. Ever heard her debate? All about I, I, is like she is running a one woman show. All about her. Sometimes less is better .

        • Anonymous says:

          Well she actually does not take advice, preferring instead to rely on her own prejudices to drive an educational agenda that is way too ambitious given the quality of teaching, make no mistake, standards have gone up but that is despite Ms Rivers.

    • Anonymous says:

      This expert too easily disregards the effects of horrible (non) parenting and the stultifying effects of the sort of “raising” that many of our lower socio-economic children are getting -the shouting, the beatings, the drinking, the drugs, the various men up to no good with their mothers and them sometimes, etc – because it suits her to come up with this age old consultants’ soothing balm that all you need to do is find wonderful teachers and all will be well. Of course we need wonderful teachers, but that is NOT, repeat, NOT, the only problem with poor education outcomes in Cayman or other countries for that matter (including, by the way, Canada where she is based).

    • Anonymous says:

      12:14 You forgot to include this sentence in your defensive comments, and I quote, “The expert singled out the issue of TEACHER QUALITY as the most important element of success in education.”… ” Teacher quality” refers to what the individual teacher is qualified, and personally responsible, to contribute to those they are paid to teach- i.e, what the teacher actually brings to the table- and not to the special treatment they demand simply because they bear the title of ‘teacher.’ There is a vast difference between the two positions- the first gets positive results while the later makes excuses for the lack thereof.

      • Anonymous says:

        Teacher quality is only a variable if said teacher’s ability to teach is not highjacked by govt. foolishness.

      • Anonymous says:

        7:09, the excerpt from the report referred to the teacher as a critical factor and and not teacher quality. Of course, teacher quality is important, I agree, but it is obvious you are unaware of the issues teachers face in the classroom and how undervalued they often feel. And worse, you have little or no idea how these things can affect teacher quality! Apparently leadership quality should have no bearing on teacher quality according to you. But I see you are among those who throw “paid to teach” in teachers’ faces. Yes 7:09, I hear you; regardless of how you are treated, you are paid to teach so shut up and teach. Regardless of the conditions presented and the lack of attention to critical issues for improvement by those you voted in and are paying to lead, you should shut up and teach regardless of how you feel. “Special treatment”? You certainly did not read my post! You must be a politician! If you think teachers are truly paid to teach, then I challenge you to become a teacher, confirm the rate of pay and match it with the true hours they spend teaching. By the way, make sure you clearly understand what teaching means and all activities involved. If you become successful learning this, then you will realize that a teacher’s job extends beyond the 10 hours they spend at school; and I mean ’10 hours’. They include planning and marking at home at nights, talking with parents on the road and at social events on weekends and public holidays, Parent Teacher consultation meetings after school hours, working with students through lunch hours and after school sessions and sometimes during public holidays. Did you say special treatment because of the title 7:09? I forgive you! Ignorance is bliss! I am happy however that you are not the Minister of Education, CEO or CO or any other Senior Leader in Education, or are you?

    • Anonymous says:

      And communication is key to achieving success. No one in Govt, from the minister, from the premier, to the DES, to the teachers, to the students, to the parents have any idea what is expected from the other. It is one big free for all. You cannot get a straight answer out of anyone. Cowards the lot.

  12. Anonymous says:

    They had to pay this person to come and tell us this. Things which are obvious to most. How bout replacing Tara with her. Cut out the middle man…and I mean man

  13. Anonymous says:

    Boy Tara I hope you got a job lined up for May…

  14. SSM345 says:

    Almost 4yrs putting together an unrealistic plan………what a waste of everybody’s time and another disservice to our current Education system. I suppose this “specialist” will now be told they don’t know what they are talking about, what we need to fix the mess we are in and will press ahead regardless so that someone can pat themselves on the back and claim success.

  15. MM says:

    Why do we have to keep paying people to tell us the same thing we are paying our Minister to be able to tell us?

    Quick google search (not related to our CIG, they probably do not have a roles and duties outline for the Ministers anyway), however, I found this very useful in assessing how effective our present Education Minister has been:

    The responsibilities of Ministry of Education shall include the following:

    1. To draw up strategies, policies and plans for educational reform and development; and to draft relevant rules and regulations, and supervise their implementation.

    2. To take charge of the overall planning, coordination and management of all forms of education at various levels; to formulate, in collaboration with relevant departments, the standards for the setting-up of schools of all types at various levels; to guide the reform of education and teaching methods; and to take charge of the statistics, analysis, and release of basic educational information.

    3. To promote all-round development of compulsory education and equitable education; to take charge of the macro-guidance and coordination of compulsory education; and to direct the regular senior secondary education, pre-school education, and special education.

    To lay down requirements for and basic documents for teaching in elementary education; to organize the examination and approval of unified course materials for elementary education; and to carry on quality-oriented education in an all-round way.

    4. To provide guidance for the supervision over education nationwide, organize and direct the inspection and evaluation of the implementation of the nine-year compulsory education and the literacy campaign among the young and the middle-aged, and to monitor the quality and level of the development of elementary education.

    5. To provide guidance for the development and reform of employment-oriented vocational education; to formulate the curriculum catalogues for secondary vocational education, documents for the guidance of teaching, and standards of teaching assessment; to enhance the compiling of teaching materials for secondary vocational education and to improve the occupational counselling.

    6. To direct the development and reform of higher education, and further deepen the reform of the administrative system of universities under the direct affiliation of the Ministry of Education.

    To formulate the curriculum catalogues and documents for the guidance of teaching; to examine and verify, in collaboration with relevant departments, the establishment, renaming, abolishment and adjustment of higher education institutions; to undertake the implementation and coordination of Project 211 and Project 985; to direct and coordinate all forms of higher education and continuing education; and to provide guidance for the improvement of the assessment of the higher education.

    7. To take charge of the overall management of the educational funds under the jurisdiction of this Ministry, take part in formulating policies for the raising and allocation of educational funds, and capital investment in construction for educational purposes, and to prepare statistics of the funds for education across the country.

    8. To plan and direct the educational work for the ethnic minority groups, and to coordinate the educational aids to the ethnic minority groups and ethnic minority areas.

    9. To direct the work of ideology and political education, moral, physical, health, arts, and national defence education in all types of schools at various levels; and to direct the construction of the Party in institutions of higher learning.

    10. To administer teachers’ work; to formulate and supervise the implementation of the standards for qualification for teachers of various types and at various levels together in collaboration with relevant departments; and to direct the training of people for the education system.

    11. To manage the entrance examination for academic credentials for higher education and the administration of records of students’ enrolment status; to make recruitment plans for higher education in collaboration with relevant departments; to take part in drawing up the employment policies for college and university graduates; and to direct regular colleges and universities in their work to facilitate the graduates’ job hunting and starting of their own businesses.

    12. To plan and guide the research by institutions of higher education in natural sciences, philosophy and social sciences; to coordinate and guide the institutions of higher education to take part in developing the national innovation system, and undertake the State’s key projects and programmes for the development of science and technology; to guide the construction and development of the scientific and technological innovation of institutions of higher education; to direct the informatisation of education and promote the integration of production, teaching and research.

    13. To organize and guide international educational exchanges and cooperation; to formulate policies of programmes for Chinese students studying abroad and foreign students studying in China, joint educational programmes by Chinese and foreign educational institutions, and the management of schools for the children of foreign nationals. To plan, coordinate and direct the work of promoting the Chinese language in the world. To carry out educational cooperation and exchanges with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

    14. To formulate guidelines and policies for the nationwide standardisation and promotion of the spoken and written Chinese language; to compile medium and long-term plans for the development of the Chinese language; to formulate standards and criteria for Chinese and languages of ethnic minority groups and to organize and coordinate the supervision and the examination of the implementation of the standards and criteria; to direct the popularization of Putonghua and the training of teachers of Putonghua.

    15. To take charge of the work of the conferring of academic degrees; to be responsible for the implementation of the conferral system for academic degrees; to be responsible for the work towards international reciprocity in academic degrees, mutual recognition of academic degrees and so on. 

    16. To coordinate between the State departments and the UNESCO for cooperation in education, science and technology, culture and other areas; to take charge of the liaison of the State departments with the UNESCO Secretariat and relevant institutions and organizations.    

    17. To carry out other work assigned by the State Council.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow. You really need to spend some time at the University of Allen & Overy to be able to do that.

  16. SKEPTICAL says:

    Another example of ” all fur coat and no knickers “.Get back to the important basics, and when you have a solid foundation move on to the next level.

  17. Anonymous says:

    back to square one tara…….

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