Ed Ministry: We’re working on school standards

| 27/12/2018 | 83 Comments
Cayman News Service

John Gray High School, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Following the findings of the Office of Education Standards that all three high schools in the Cayman Islands at best reached merely the minimum standards, with Clifton Hunter judged weak overall, officials from the education ministry said that work was already well underway to address the shortcomings identified. Department of Education Services Director Lyneth Monteith said in a release that the school inspectors’ findings had provided a road map for improving teaching and learning and informing the strategic direction for the schools.

She said, “The work of the Office of Education Standards provides an external audit of the performance of schools and their students, but also of the systemic reform efforts led by the ministry and department. This creates a feedback loop that the Ministry of Education, Department of Education Services and schools use to plan strategically, and which the schools tailor to their unique needs.”

Last week the OES released a summary of the results of the high school inspections, which were all conducted in October. In response, Acting Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education Cetonya Cacho said it “provided an important benchmark for work done to enhance teaching and learning in government high schools since the current 2018-2019 school year began”.

Cacho noted that work was already underway and a considerable number of actions taken in a number of areas mentioned by the OES in its reports, such as enhanced management of student and teacher performance and increased support for Key Stage 3 students making the transition from primary to high school. Other work is scheduled to begin very shortly, she said.

Cacho said parents should read the inspection reports but also reach out to schools to find out more about the work being done to increase their children’s chances of academic success. She said, “We are committed to engaging with partners like the OES, as well as all other stakeholders, to help achieve a world-class future for our children, and it is our intention to keep the public informed of our progress.”

The reports were welcomed by Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who has promised more investment in schools and teachers, with the goal of achieving a world class education system in Cayman.

“A successful education system requires the contribution of many stakeholders, and I am pleased that we have a diligent stakeholder such as the Office of Education Standards working with us to support the overarching goal of the government’s strategic objective, which is to create the best education opportunities for all of our children,” she said.

A detailed outline of actions taken, or about to be taken, is in the CNS Library (along with all of the OES inspections and the summary report of the high schools). According to the release, these include:

Managing student performance

  • School leaders now regularly work to review and identify particular students who are failing to meet their potential, and implement interventions to help the students close the attainment gaps.
  • As part of this process, schools are also working to use data on student performance to inform teachers but also to help inform student learning and self-evaluation.

Managing teacher performance

  • Education officials are continuing to utilise targeted professional development sessions to help staff acquire and/or strengthen skills in the areas of teaching and learning.
  • Teachers’ performance management cycle for 2018-2019 has been aligned to the OES Framework and expectations since the start of the current school year.
  • Announced and unannounced observation of lessons will soon be implemented. Walk-throughs of classrooms are already in place and will be developed further throughout the year.

Enhanced management of the Key Stage 3 transition period

  • A curriculum review by the Ministry will include a review of Key Stage 3 to ensure children’s smooth transition from primary into early secondary and enhance their progress. This work is expected to commence in 2019.

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Category: Education, Local News

Comments (83)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Cayman’s public schools will only improve when teachers are given the opportunity to teach. Teachers spend too much time in meetings, planning events, etc. The ministry or whoever should take some of the autonomy from these school “leaders.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually they will only improve when their leaders are allowed to refuse mandates to hire and/or promote certain teachers, when the recruitment comes from other than Third World countries and when Performance Management is allowed to take place unhindered by The Department of Education. How can the CEO lead when she herself was the head of John Grey when it was failing? At least with Jon Clarke things have progressed but only in so far as he has been allowed to make changes.Standards will only improve too when SSIO’s stop treating Head teachers as friends and actually help them develop their skills, However, I realize the caliber of SSIO would have to greatly improve for this to happen.

      In short:

      Only have suitably qualified people on interview panels
      Stop allowing HR personnel to dictate who gets hired
      Only hire those who have proved their ability to teach. For this to happen candidates would need to submit a video of their teaching and then be able to back up their teaching philosophy at the interview process
      Start the recruitment process earlier and stop taking two or more months to tell candidates they have got the job
      Stop renewing teachers who fail to meet standards
      Stop insisting that Head Teachers give a 3 on Performance Management because someone is a local.
      SSIO’s are generalists and do not have enough pedagogic knowledge to be on interview panels.

      It is clear that the interview process remains deeply flawed within Cayman, so maybe its time to hand the process over to an outside agency. I would not normally agree with this as its expensive but something has to change. Poor teaching effects generations of children!

      • Anonymous says:

        Listen!! You are soooooooo right in all areas except I can’t say I agree with the idea of selecting teachers from a particular third world country, but everything else you said is true!

        Failing leaders = a failing education system. P.s. I think head teachers give locals more low grades than any other individual. Head teachers don’t want local teachers around because they know local teachers know their rights. The SSIOs will work with Head Teachers to discourage locals or anyone they don’t like.

        SSIOs need to assess the head teacher’s effectiveness, but they are all friends. You can’t even go to a SSIO, HR or whoever to make a complain or receive support.

        This whole thing is a trainwreck. I only feel sorry for the students and parents that can’t do better than sending their child to a public school. While there may be awesome teachers, resources, etc. The leadership sucks. You would even think a new leader would make a difference, but it’s the same thing over and over again; it’s the cycle of taking failing teachers and promoting them simply because of who they are or who they are related to.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a JGHS parent I applaud our educators. 90% of those that I have dealt with are caring and dedicated. But, they are beaten down by this system. They are forced to be parole officers rather than teachers. The failing link in our system is parents, and scaredy-cat politicians.

  3. Cayman Purge says:

    Weak like our leadership who are only interested in self worshipping adulation and getting paid$$$ to hell with us or children.

  4. Anonymous says:

    thanks for saying that. I am tired of telling people that CAYMAN IS NOT A NATION

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  5. Anonymous says:

    If we adopts western liberalism to teach our kids, the will become irresponsible and entitled victims of the successful.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Hire ex military personnel that are qualified teachers and or highly qualified Eastern European teachers. Stop hiring weak soft teachers that don’t enforce discipline. Discipline and following the rules is problem number one. The students have zero respect for authority because our leaders are soft and pathetic.

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    • anonymous says:

      I hate reading this s***….. “ex military personnel”, STOP TREATING OUR CHILDREN LIKE THEY ARE CRIMINALS.

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      • Anonymous says:

        But some of them are criminals.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And some are on their way to becoming criminals

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      • Anonymous says:

        Seems you are part of the problem. You expect a newly graduated soft teacher to teach at a rough public school where the children feel entitled and the parents behave like you? That teacher won’t last and if they do, they only care about the money and living on an island and living in paradise.

        Most of those bright eyed teachers know nothing of hard life and are scared when a student says boo to them. The Jamaican teachers accept the bad behaviour and don’t correct it. At least the ex military qualified teacher would enforce discipline and teach the children. What do you expect happens when these children try for a job and can’t keep them because they were never moulded to do simple things such as hand in homework on time and attend school on time.

        Do you even care for your child(ren) or the community of Cayman?

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        • Anonymous says:

          There is not a strong enough incentive for Jamaican teachers to “correct the behavior” as you put it. And it only makes sense why. Senior Jamaican teachers barely make over US$1,000 per month. Before the pay raise, the lowest pay those teachers could make in Cayman was CI$3,547 per month. Now with the current pay raise there’s an even bigger incentive to keep their mouth shut.

          Not saying that teachers don’t deserve the pay raise…there are teachers both local and expat who give blood for our children. I’m just saying that factors like these should have been taken into account before granting an indiscriminate pay raise.

          Once you understand incentives and their powers, it becomes very easy to figure out why people do or don’t do what they do or don’t do, and why things are the way they are.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Funny. At my private school overseas some of my best teachers were ex military.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Then the person that put that original comment would have said ex prison guards. But I like the way you are thinking!

        I think that original comment should be taken further and all government school should be military schools with mandatory pushups and daily laps. Some of these children are so ill disciplined because they are flat out unhealthy. The schools could be advertised as Caymans fourth pillar. At the very least this pillar would be beneficial to the local community and make Cayman money because many people will pay upwards of 50,000 to send their children to military schools.

      • Anonymous says:

        Trust me…I work at one of the high schools…some of those children need some boot camp type of discipline.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That wont work, when things get tough, Admin don’t renew the contracts of the teacher.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Alden and the rest are the problem. They have no backbone. They don’t know what to do. They just ignore the problem and won’t do what it takes to fix the problem.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The teachers hands are tied! It does not matter what is best for our kids, it only matters what is allowed for teachers to do. That means no one wins. Disruptive students are not punished, because teachers are not allowed to punish them. The hijinks that go on at JGHS would never be tolerated at Saint Ignatius, or Prep. Those teachers have recourses. Our lame a** government is too scared of the loss of those parents votes to do the right thing. All of our kids suffer for their cowardice and greed.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is just a symptom of a culture that is doomed to fail because it lives in the past and hides from the future.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Hiring teachers from the region will give you regional standards which Will continue Cayman’s downward spiral into a third world country.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The culture is ‘doomed to fail’ ?! Do you even know what you are saying? Are you even able to see what your own ‘culture ‘ is? I will answer that. No you don’t. You are a fish that’s not aware of what water is. We all are.

  8. Anonymous says:

    remember your poorly educated leaders came from the same educational system, voted in by poorly educated locals.
    yet highly qualified expats are not allowed to vote or be elected.
    welcome to wonderland.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    No one seems to see the fact here that the ofstead inspectors see schools in the uk and then come to see our schools.
    Has anyone seen the composition of these inspectors, seriously not one has experience in the Caribbean, all are retired teachers still looking at their glorious past teaching in the UK and expecting the same from a small Caribbean island.
    Get local inspectors to inspect local schools and then we will see how the real situation is and not comparing us to a private school in Kensington!

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    • Anonymous says:

      You do not want your kids to have the advantages and opportunities available to kids in a private school in Kensington?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Good breeding has an impact, and that is not a deliverable any school can offer.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Broughtupsy, yes. Breeding is an irrelevance.

          • Anonymous says:

            You are saying nurture over nature. But a scorpion is still a scorpion and will still act according to its nature and not behave like a trained monkey.

            There are some things that can be nurtured but nature has a very strong hold.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This response would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious a topic.

    Fire the entire Department of Ed and give every parent a voucher.

    Charter/academy schools aren’t guaranteed to work but under our current system our schools are guaranteed to fail.

    We are well past the point of needing to try something new.

    If Lyneth Monteith isn’t accountable for this titanic failure, who the hell is???

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    • Anonymous says:

      They promoted Lyneth after she failed at John Gray. XXXXX The current principal is 100 times better and I hope the ministry does everything in their power to keep him. He makes an effort to listen to the teachers and the students. While he can’t please everyone he at least gives a damn and earns his salary.

      Keep promoting the failures and you will continue to receive failing grades.

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    • History Teacher says:

      The core problems are at the ministry of education level. Adding to the problems is the large number of poor quality teachers that are retained and promoted into the department of education. The situation is made worse by children not focused on learning, poor attitudes, disruptive behavioral issues and poor parenting in the vast majority of cases.

      These problems are not new and have been well documented for the past three decades. The Chief Officers and senior officials in the Ministry of Education have played god with the public education system and continue to do so today with no accountability.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Alden

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      • Anonymous says:

        Alden’s legacy is an expensive CHHS and incomplete schools after 3 terms in cabinet. Alden and Tara are tied as the most inept education ministers in Cayman’s history.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    A successful education system requires the contribution of many stakeholders, and I am pleased that we have a diligent stakeholder such as the Office of Education Standards working with us to support the overarching goal of the government’s strategic objective, which is to create the best education opportunities for all of our children,” she said.

    Correct me if I am wrong here, but I would have thought that the most important diligent stakeholders were the parents, after all school only has the child for 16% of the time in a year.

    Yes, there are no doubt some ineffective teachers. Yes, there are no doubt some ineffectiveness within the whole education system. However the parents must not be allowed to wash their hands of their own equally important part in their child’s education. School cannot be seen as a drop off childcare center, which I suspect is what some parents see it as.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Bad parents are a fact of life. The school leadership and teachers must deal with it, not make excuses. There is no accountability for bad results and so the bad results will continue.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    It is time to do an audit, starting at the top.How can we employ ‘school improvement officers’ and all but one school is improving – the rest are getting worse.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    why haven’t you dodo’s been working on it all along? this is not a matter of ‘stop and start’

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  14. Vlad Putin says:

    There is a saying Russian “переливать из пустого в порожнее”. In English it would mean “engage in a repeating, aimlessly leading and ineffectual conversation”.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    The results of 4 years of Tara Rivers running education rear their ugly heads

    Meanwhile the idiots in west bay voted her back in

    West Bay is going to be the end of these islands

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  16. Anonymous says:

    The same promises they have made for the last 20+ years

    As we can see from this coalition government what people like me have been saying for years has been proven true
    The CDP and PPM are two sides to the same coin, who went from sworn enemies to coalition partners without a hitch
    They were never anything more than sparring partners who took turns holding power and reaping the benefits from an ill informed electorate

    How much more destruction will Caymanians allow these two parties to do in power before you vote them out?

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  17. Anonymous says:

    With the controversy surrounding garbage pick up, the destruction of marine life and now the poor education standards, can we safely say this government has failed us.

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  18. Say it like it is says:

    So we are now wasting valuable time and resources to teach our teachers how to teach. Why did we employ these people when they were incompetent, rather than employ teachers with proper qualifications and experience. Government needs to wake up, we already have this same problem with OfReg.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Starting Teachers pay at $5,000 P M, not going to help, if a good teacher accept a teacher job at $4,000 pm ,they would do a good job, for they.love to teach, but if a teacher is only in the job for money, if they r paid $10,000 pm they would still do a bad job for they don’t care about the children, they only want want the money. That’s facts, that’s human nature period.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong. You get what you pay for. There are plenty of highly paid professionals who care deeply about doing a good job.

        By your logic we should pay teachers minimum wage because then we will get people who care very much indeed.

        Teachers should be paid as much as other professionals, yes, but they should also work the same hours in a year. (And don’t post some garbage about all the time teachers spend prepping, all professionals work overtime on top of much longer office hours and fewer vacation days than teachers. And if that’s true they can just do all that prep at school).

        Our brightest and best should want to become teachers, not just accountants and lawyers.

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        • Anonymous says:

          If you had to work among some of the “teachers” who scream-talk and act like they are always having a party while the kids and adults belch-out their vibes from car stereos from the parking lot, you would realize how unprofessional the environments are and hence many teachers need to do their work at home. I barely was able to grade my assignments this semester from all the “cultural” distractions.

          Diversity is awesome. 3rd world teachers get to see how 1st world teachers work and provide a quality educations and 1st world teachers get to know what it feels like living among chickens, upcoming drug-lords, and overt racism. Diversity is always a win-win.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Boll@£#s spoken by a non teacher, probably an accountant who fixes figures and pockets 25k a month

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      • Anonymous says:

        Teachers dont always get the support from the administration and ministry. You send a child out of the classroom for fighting or harassing another child, they are sent back by administrators because it must be an “inclusive” environment. So 1 child disrupts learning for a class of 20. Now no one is learning and the teachers have no choice but to keep the disruptive child in the class due to “inclusion”.

        It’s not as cut and dry as one would think. The classroom and school management has alot of dynamics. If you have not been a teacher or spent a day in the classroom talk to someone who has before judging.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    The people running the schools cannot get the job done. This new report is not much different from all the previous reports. The reports all show how ineffective the school leaders are, starting at the top. They and their internal politics are not helping, instead they are the preventers of excellent education. They don’t even pretend to have a plan to reach excellence. Pay off their contracts and fire them. Hire some qualified educators with proven track records.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is right. Bad school leaders and senior management teams are destroying our education system. Some leaders only want pictures from events to put in the Compass. The leaders don’t even want to help the teachers improve. I had a principal who suddenly decided I was a terrible teacher after only watching me teach one lesson and knowing me for like 2 months because I’m not old fashioned like her. Yet they can’t get senior teachers with 5+ years of experience to meet the expectations. All I can say is, bye bye to the classroom.

      When will we have a world class education system??

  20. Anonymous says:

    The grand plan is to hire more of their same family, nation, or religion into positions where they can keep a cozy job and can trust their same family, nation, or religious colleagues to keep under wraps what a terrible job they have done and will do in the future.

    Just another ciusterf^&k with managerial doublespeak to add.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Serves the nation right for breaching human rights obligations to offer free primary and secondary education to all children in Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You need to learn what human rights are, and how they work. You also need to check your facts. There are hundreds of foreign nationals who have received or who are receiving free or heavily subsidized education in government schools.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You need to read Ponomaryov v Bulgaria, buddy. And then realise the obligation extends to all the children living in Cayman not just foreign kids of Caymanians. Put another way, YOU need to learn what human rights are and how the work.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Gillow. You also need to read the terms and conditions of admission to Cayman.

          I agree that Caymanian students are entitled to access to a good quality free education. Since they are not able to access one, perhaps it is time for they and their parents to sue their government. Now that would be funny.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Ah, Gillow, a one-off outlier that is long long past any relevance. Mention Gillow to anyone who actual deals with this sort of thing and you will find they laugh at you. Seen Gillow referred to positively in any recent ECHR rulings?

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            • Anonymous says:

              Ever seen a ECHR ruling from a tiny island with over 70% foreign population, disproportionately of child bearing age, who all agreed to come on the basis they would pay for their own children’s education, and would be bankrupted if it did what you suggest?

              • Anonymous says:

                And the last few words is where it falls down for you. Because Cayman, as a tax free territory with massive GDP, would not have a public policy out that you are whimpering about. Gillow was about limited land resources, if it has any relevance at all, not financial issues.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Yayyy… how bout we worry more about homework than hair!!! Ouu and also lets not suspend the kids for doing kids stuff like throwing spitballs… how bout we get a whole new faculty!!! CHHS

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Meh. The same bunch can’t even complete a school building in 8 years…

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  24. Anonymous says:

    “We’re working on school standards”=We have no clue what we were, are and would be doing.
    It would have been funny if it wasn’t tragic.

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    • Anonymous says:

      have to agree with this comment whole heartedly. isn’t there school inspectors that should be on top of this all year round.
      what the dickens is happening to our island?

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      • Anonymous says:

        It is no longer ours. It is theirs. And they seem to be doing all they can to make it just like theirs.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Not reading Dickens anymore, that’s for sure.

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        • Fay Whittaket says:

          Mr Clifton Hunter was a well
          Spoken man Wonder if he would actually be able to comprehend the English spoken in some of the schools today and what he would think of the principal at CHHS

      • Anonymous says:

        The inspections unit is here all year round. Before you all lose your heads, let’s see how the private schools fare.

        By international standards, yes, government schools are generally full of issues, but you compare Cayman to other Caribbean nations, or small islands of a similar size, and we stack up much better.

        The schools are improving. They all actually have plans called SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PLAN ffs. JGHS is showing some excellent potential, despite drawing students from some very impoverished backgrounds.

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        • Anonymous says:

          We are not a Caribbean nation. We are a British Territory with a sophisticated international economy, servicing clientele from all around the world and happen to be geographically located in the Caribbean.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Ah yes, this sophisticated economy, that is of little influence to the government high school students. You think they care about mutual funds and captive insurance?

            Nation, territory… whatever. Great diversion that has zero relevance in this discussion.

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