CIS falls narrowly short of ‘excellent’ grade

| 13/02/2020 | 71 Comments
Cayman News Service
CIS graduates

(CNS): Government school inspectors have still not given an ‘excellent’ grade to any local high schools, public or private, but Cayman International School came very close. Inspectors were clearly impressed by the independent but costly institution, which teaches around 770 students from kindergarten to high school, giving it an overall ‘good’ grade. The Office of Education Standards report said it performed “effectively in all major aspects of its work” and “across all quality indicators, all judgements were good or better”.

Many ‘excellent’ features were identified by the inspectors, who said there were no weak areas at all. The inspectors lauded the curriculum, which is based on an American model. Although the school facility was built by, and is being expanded by, the Dart Group, it is run by International Schools Services (ISS), a non-profit organisation located in Princeton.

Inspectors were also impressed with all of the staff and the quality of teaching, as well as the students’ behaviour, which was described as ‘excellent’ across all phases of the school.

“Relationships between staff and students were exemplary,” the report said. “Students responded well to the high expectations set regarding their behaviour and respected the excellent role models presented to them by their teachers. This resulted in all students treating each other, and the environment, considerately. All students showed a high level of courtesy towards both staff and visitors.”

Inspectors said the students showed tolerance towards each other and interacted well.

“Almost all showed social skills beyond their years,” they said, noting that bullying was found to be rare in the school. Most students said they were confident that if it occurred, it would be dealt with by the staff. Almost all stated that they felt safe and cared for while at school, and the inspectors noted that they were smart and wore their school uniform with pride.

When it came to the progress and achievement of the students in key subjects, such as English, maths and science, the school was graded ‘excellent’ and ‘good’ depending on the grades and subjects, which differed marginally across the school. In English the majority of Grade 12 students sat either the International Baccalaureate (IB) ‘English A: Literature Higher Level’ examination or IB ‘English A: Literature Standard Level’ test.

“They attained excellent results when compared to international standards. Grade 12 students understood and wrote in depth about complex texts… Overall, students’ attainment at Grade 11 and 12 in SAT tests was excellent. By Grade 10 almost all students met or exceeded their benchmark PSAT test scores in reading and writing,” the report stated.

The inspectors also pointed to the students’ and teachers’ excellent understanding of the environment.

“Students’ civic and environmental understanding was excellent across all phases of the school,” the inspectors noted, pointing to the work in the early years classes all the way through to the leadership of the high schools students in the ‘Protect Our Future’ group. Inspectors said the students conversed easily and confidently about the environment. They also pointed to the “passion” the staff had for students to have a sound knowledge of environmental issues.

Ironically, the inspectors conducted their review at CIS during the recent scrap metal fire at the landfill next door. The inspectors did not comment on the dump’s wider impact on the students’ well being but applauded the school for its efficient evacuation.

The inspectors noted that even though the school has no religious affiliation and welcomes students from more than 40 different nationalities and cultures, including Caymanians, who make up 44% of the school population, all of the students were well aware of Cayman’s Christian heritage. They also noted the high level of knowledge students had of local culture and traditions.

The inspectors said that in general the students benefit from excellent care and guidance offered by “a dedicated team of teachers, specialist learning support staff, counsellors and school leaders”. It has excellent links with parents and the community, creating learning opportunities for students at all stages. The report also found that CIS has high quality resources and facilities that support the delivery of an excellent school curriculum.

With teachers demonstrating strong subject and pedagogical knowledge, positive relationships with students and high expectations, the inspectors said they were confident the school was well placed to adopt the few recommendations they made to make the school even better.

See the full report in the CNS Library

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Comments (71)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The part of the report that made me sit up and take notice is the fact that the parents are engaged with the school and teachers. Therein lies the problem with the government run schools. The issue of lack of parental involvement is a problem. Someone opined above that in the government schools the brilliant kids are placed with the ones who are lazy etc. I have said for years that there needs to be an assessment system in place to diagnose and treat children who are educationally challenged. I am happy to say that this is now happening at John Gray with the implementation of a nurture group which separates those children who have some form of learning disability and who go at a slower pace than their peers. However, if parents are not involved in the reporting requirements, and who don’t engage with the schools and their children this will be a waste of time.

    Parenting does not mean sending the kids off to school and buying them material things. It means having conversations with them, spending time with them, building trust between parent and child and helping that child to be confident. As someone who works in Camana Bay I come in contact with the children of CIS almost every day. They are well mannered, neat, well spoken, they open doors for strangers, they nod and say good day to you. They are also children. They run around and scream and play. They are well adjusted. The same can be said of children at John Gray. They are decent, well adjusted and they do make an effort to make their parents and their communities proud of them. It breaks my heart that there are many here who deride children from government schools as if they are trash. They are not.

    To help these kids, be a part of a mentoring programme. Be a part of a homework group. If you have a car and your neighbour does not have one, take that child to school some mornings. Be a part of that village that we love to speak about.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said @7:19 am! It takes a village/whole community.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you saying, 7:19, that there has hitherto never been any separation of the “ educationally challenged” ( your term) in government schools and that you are happy that it is now going on at John Gray? Say wha? Setting by ability has occurred in our middle and secondary schools since 1975. Special Education programmes have also existed since then. In the 1980s our education department, without the input of principals of course, decided to recruit a bunch of U.K. left wing teachers disaffected by the Thatcher government’s determination to improve standards in England. They came here and hammered us and tried to humiliate us for separating kids who couldn’t read and write from those who were heading for university saying it was discrimination blah blah. They should all be in the same class learning the same thing and everything in the world is hunky dory. The patents of the brighter, achieving kids went apeshit. Some of the teachers left eventually thankfully, some remained and changed their tune when they realized they were wrong. But please don’t say how wonderful it is there are nurture groups etc etc as if this has never happened before. If that’s what the administration of John Gray is telling you, they are lying.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why doesn’t the inspectorate come right out into the open and say why the school is so good…bright pleasant well adjusted students from middle to upper to top class homes with parents who have loved them and read to them as toddlers and stuck by them and supported them in extracurricular activities and made it clear without beating the shit out of them what discipline is all about ……..and who have not dicked around with every low class gangsta and fathered kids and moved on to the next stupid girl and fathered another one and spent nights in Kelly’s bar then bought drugs and gone on and slapped up an immigrant girl wanting to stay here and then bred her so the public schools in a few years can benefit from their debauched way of life….

  3. Anonymous says:

    Running a private school is vastly different from running a government school. Yes Government school standards need to be higher. That is agreed. However, private schools do not deal with volume of special needs and learning disability students that government schools deal with. Private schools also have better behaviour and performance because they can and do eliminate poorer performing or poorer behaved students, either at the point of application (application tests) or at any point that the student does not meet the standard that the school has set. Government schools are not able to do this except in extreme cases.

    Private school parents are way more involved in their children’s education because they have been educated to higher degrees than the average public school parent. Generally speaking, persons from higher socio-economic backgrounds have better access to additional educational tools like tutoring services, than those of lower socio-economic status.

    There are a myriad of issues that we must recognise public schools have to deal with that private schools do not. To refuse to take them into consideration and just say that Government needs to get out of the education business, or the like, is actually unintelligent. As I said, yes Government schools need to improve standards. However, given the average ‘client’ of a government school vs, that of a private school, the two cannot be compared. If you want to compare Prep, CIS and Catholic to Government schools, then you have to compare the set 1and 2 government school children. When this is done you will see that those students are on par with and in many instances excel beyond their private school colleagues.

    Finally, and again to back up my previous points, there are numerous articles that come out every year about this competition or that competition. Many times those articles present that government schools outperformed private schools. What we need to ask ourselves is, why is it that no-one ever celebrates that, or remembers it when articles like this one come out?

    Let’s celebrate CIS today. Let’s not use it as an opportunity to once again bash the government system. By the way, if it takes a village to raise a child, and if we think the children in the government schools aren’t getting what they deserve, then why are more people not involving themselves in helping. It’s easy to sit back and write comments from your desk. Put the effort in that says you actually care.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a former teacher in a government school, I wish the writer of the above post had given his or, yes, her name because it is first class in its analysis of the situation. Such a person…and there are many others… should be assisting the education ministry and education council ( no one knows what they do) with tackling the problems. But one of the factors mitigating against sensible experienced educators coming forward is the debilitating emphasis on religion, bible study, devotions in the class rooms, constant assemblies and prayer meetings and the blaming of deficiencies on the lack of such things. It has gone on for over 35 years with dubious “pastors” ( one very dubious) drafted into certain schools ( at their own suggestion) by a supine education department to carry out assemblies which they sometimes forgot to turn up for and which the kids hated. There is so much potential in Cayman and so much depressing stifling of it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask CIS how they deal with special needs cases. I’ll bet the inspectors didn’t.

      • Anonymous says:

        CIS has excellent programs for children that need extra assistance. The implications of your comment couldn’t be further from the truth.

        • Anonymous says:

          Oh shut up. Tell it to the countless parents of the kids who have been told to leave.

        • Anonymous says:

          As a parent of a child with intensive special needs, I can say that CIS goes above and beyond to be inclusive and assist students wherever possible. The elementary Student Support includes counselors, reading specialist and learning support teachers, and they have supported my child every step of the way. I believe that of the few children that have had to leave, it is under circumstances regarding needs that cannot be completely fulfilled without high costs, due to resources, or due to behavior where a child would benefit more from a smaller or 1:1 environment.

      • Anonymous says:

        My Son goes to CIS and has special needs. They have special teachers and help for him and he is doing great. I’ll bet the inspectors did ask and they liked the answers. But then again I know from experience.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m standing on my school desk and applauding you 3:21pm. My Captain! My Captain!

    • Anon says:

      We ARE getting involved!! CIIPA members VOLUNTEER to go to public primary schools to assist teachers with teaching MATH to students. CIIPA members (we’re talking about professional accountants here) VOLUNTEER, then they take a 3 hour child abuse course on their own time, submit police clearances and the whole shebang, just for the opportunity to go spend an hour a week of their own time to mentor Caymanian primary school kids on how to properly complete math questions. Unfortunately, the project has been stalled EVERY YEAR FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS because the f’ing Ministry of Education fails place these dedicated volunteers into the schools! It is as if there is a concerted effort by the government to ensure that Caymanian kids remain uneducated! It is CRIMINAL what the Ministry of Education are doing!

      • Anonymous says:

        I completed my Darkness to Light training specifically so I could volunteer for LIFE (Literary Is For Everyone). I’ve been in the position recently where I have been marking entrance exams for my profession and have been almost crying at the lack of literacy (and numeracy) amongst the applicants, the majority of whom are Caymanians.

        Spelling, punctuation, grammar and sentence construction are, to be blunt, appalling. It was the equivalent of 10/11 year olds in the UK which is grade 6 or 7 here I believe.

        They are being let down badly by the CIG and their society. Cayman can’t hide forever from the outside world. PLEASE do something about it!

      • Anonymous says:

        hence why the entire Ministry of Education needs to be sacked so we can give our kids the education and attention they deserve!! Maybe CNS can inquire as to why the Dept of Ed has not put these volunteers into the schools to help??!!

  4. Blacklisted says:

    “Relationships between staff and students were exemplary,” the report said. “Students responded well to the high expectations set regarding their behaviour and respected the excellent role models presented to them by their teachers….”

    I know they must have their flaws and all but this, this is what our public schools are missing. Teachers who give a damn and proper facilities to not only accommodate but encourage learning and just an overall pleasant environment.

    I feel like I would’ve gotten along much better at this school, but instead I had to deal with years of teachers who clearly didn’t give a damn, a curriculum that was diluted to elementary levels in middle/high school, combined with a grading scheme that was mediocre at best… nothing in place for the students who wanted to pursue arts (music, dancing, drawing, etc…) I could go on…

    I graduated in 2010 and the problems only seem to have gotten worse so I can just imagine how toxic our schools must’ve become, and completely understand why some “graduate” without even learning basic English and Math. They get swept to the back of a class filled with 30+ students (most of which don’t have the social skills to even care to learn, or let others learn) and just coast through school, never really being challenged or held accountable for their FAILINGS. Constantly distracted by the search for attention that they aren’t getting at home with their broken families.

    Imagine knowing that a single school with 700+ students built literally beside a dump can manage to educate students at a better level than all of our public schools… Shameful.

    And you wonder why all of our brightest local minds are fleeing from the island in droves.

    We have a really deep problem here.

    • Anonymous says:

      It may be beside a dump, but it’s brand new and shiny. Most of the kids will do better than most kids at a government school, however there are some amazing students in govt system. They’re the real stars!

      I truly feel sorry for you if you were at jghs around 2010. It wasn’t built near a dump, it was a dump.

      • Anonymous says:

        It was a dump in the 1990s

      • Blacklisted says:

        This probably shouldn’t even be past tense since, as far as I’ve observed, the most they’ve done to the school since I left was re-name it.

        I guess that makes things “new” in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Blaming the teachers shows that you are part of the culture that is responsible for bringing up kids that can’t learn. That’s the difference between the schools.

      • Blacklisted says:

        I also blamed the sub par standards of the government grading system, lack of proper facilities, lack of services for special needs students (not just the ones slow at learning, but the ones who don’t see themselves working as a teller in a bank for their entire lives, for example). I ALSO blamed the fact that there are too many students in classrooms and the fact that kids are allowed to “graduate” without the proper pre-requisites. And theses are only some of the issues.

        I’m assuming (hoping) you just read my top two paragraphs and rushed to comment.

        Not reading entire comments to get the full perspective shows that you’re part of the culture that is willingly ignorant and would rather be heard making a “point” than observing and making calculated decisions.

      • Blacklisted says:

        Oh, and I blamed broken families too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The fact that 44% of the roll are Caymanian children tells you ALL you need to know. Their parents have no faith at all in the public system and recognise the value of a proper education where reading, writing and ‘rithmetic (3Rs) gets you on in this world. It’s not hard to spot an educated Caymanian compared to an entitled one. The CIG’s priorities are all wrong wasting money on ports and destroying Smith Cove. Shameful stuff.

  6. Anonymous says:

    No religeon. That is the key.
    Government should put these people in charge of all schools. Can not be that difficult.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not necessarily. At CIS there is a discussion of different religions and their origins. Classes have a range of cultures, ethnicities and religions which are celebrated and explored.

    • Anonymous says:

      you mean when you don’t build an education system around s dogmatic belief that science is a long con and magic is real the students actually excel? Naw, must be some kind fluke I’m sure, we just need to pray harder for a good review next time. Now excuse my while I and the minister of education refuse to do our job so we have time to go and scream about gay people.

  7. eric says:

    Amazing that they get this level of performance, but the teachers are paid less than the public schools. I hear the CIS elementary levels are superb. It doesn’t seem right that poor performance in public schools is rewarded with high salaries and these teachers struggle and ultimately end up leaving due to the cost of living compared to salaries. Given the increasing number of Caymanians who how send their students to private school, presumably CIG compensates CIS for the saved costs from the public schools?

  8. POOR public education = TAX REFUND says:

    Caymanians who cannot afford to place their kids in private schools, should be receiving a TAX REFUND from government to help them afford private education for their kids. I’m very serious about this. Average to lower level income Caymanians have no other choice than to put their kids into government’s long neglected, abysmal public education system, that “graduates” students regardless of whether or not they make the requisite grades to pass. Where is the value in public school education then? Answer: there is NO VALUE in public school education in Cayman! So what are Caymanians paying taxes for???? So that we can put our kids into nice brick and mortar air conditioned buildings that amount to nothing more than DAY CARE!

    If government refuses to take educating Caymanian children seriously, by seriously preparing Caymanian children for the future, then give us our f’ing money BACK so we can educate our kids in private schools!

    And no, I’m NOT kidding.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t afford to send my kids to CIS but got me a nice big boat and a big truck to pull it around.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good idea but not sure how you give a tax refund when no-one pays any tax!

      • POOR public education = TAX REFUND says:

        @10:08 am Clearly, your level of intelligence is slightly high, given that you can type with one finger, but Caymanians do indeed pay TAXES. It’s called a Consumption Tax. Everything consumed in Cayman (except for a few items determined staples and therefore tax-free) is taxed (what do you think import duties are?) upon entry to the Cayman Islands. That tax is then passed on to the consumer in the form of price markups. Try to keep up mate, this isn’t rocket science. In addition, property purchases are taxed at a high rate, though there are provisions for first-time Caymanian buyers. Those TAXES go towards paying for public needs. Roads, healthcare, EDUCATION. You know, like how taxes in YOUR home country work? So if those taxes aren’t being properly managed by government, they should friggin give it back. Got it now genius? As you where.

        • Moi says:

          10:59. Are you always so arrogant and rude in your day to day dealings with people? You could have responded to that poster with a less higher than mighty attitude and be polite. Get off yer high horse!

          • POOR public education = TAX REFUND says:

            You’re right. I was a bit rude. My bad. Sorry, that whole “you guys don’t pay taxes” thing rubs me the wrong way. Peace and love!

          • Anonymous says:

            10:59 needs to go on a course on manners and politeness.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wow – I sure hope you never plan on becoming a teacher! Not because your facts are wrong, but because you explained them in such a rude way!

      • Anonymous says:

        So what kind of “thing” is duty then duh?

      • Anonymous says:

        we all pay taxes every day

    • Anonymous says:

      shouldn’t those sending their children to private school get the refund, as they are not using up all the government resources by sending their kids to a government funded school?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Of course the students’ environmental understanding was excellent…. They live in the shadow of the island’s largest single uncontrolled environmental experiment and have front row seats for sampling and studying the debacle that is the dump..

  10. Anonymous says:

    Pink Floyd.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Congrat CIS

    This is why Government should get out of the education business. They know absolutely nothing about running schools. Instead of wasting money building shiny new buildings what they should do is put the school system out to tender and let private school systems run them even if it means subsidizing to some degree. Put requirements in place to ensure high levels of education so that our children graduate with better grades and are prepared to take their positions in this crazy world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congrats CIS

      This is why Government should get out of the education business. They know absolutely nothing.


  12. Anonymous says:

    First, congratulations. A few questions: Since CIS is rated very good and is based on an American system, why are government schools adopting a British system?

    • Anonymous says:

      7.20pm In general Us Education system used to be considered inferior to the British system not sure if that still holds.

      • Anonymous says:

        Still holds. Even CIS abandons the US system for its brighter students, teaching International Baccalaureate rather than standard US curriculum.

        • Anonymous says:

          Also proved by the fact that the British system “graduates” students at 15/16 with equivalent academic knowledge/attainment as the American system does at age 18. The UK system is two years ahead of the US. A level students are given college credit by US universities.

          • Anonymous says:

            That is also the same case with the IB students as well. Although the switch in government schools away from CXC to British system is much needed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Prep is rated good/excellent & they follow the UK system.
      It’s not the system it’s the leadership & teachers. You pay government school teachers more, yet do nothing when they perform poorly & promote them beyond their capability.
      A writer says that as the CIS teachers are not well paid they leave. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing as you get new energetic teachers to replace them.
      Across the civil service you need to fire the people who are continuously ‘sick’ or late or underperforming.

      • Anon says:

        8.28am Ref your last sentence if this policy was followed half the Civil Service would be sacked. However these people have noting to worry about as gthey only get sacked if they end up in jail.

      • Expat married to a Caymanian says:

        Teachers are fine. Most teachers regardless of school have a desire and passion to teach. I feel that it’s more the ministry and their policies and annual change of curriculum that is an issue. No consistency and lack of separating those disrupting the student population is a real problem. The “inclusion” mandate.

        Further, private schools accept and deny who they want. So the special needs kids, behaviorbe problem kids, the undesirables are left out as the fancy private schools will not accept them. And most end up in government schools. This is a real and serious problem. There are classes documented with more than half the students with mental or emotional issues in government high schools…. you think that is easy to manage? And the ministry says they must be “included” and they hire fancy American “inclusion” specialists that send their own personal children to private schools not because they cant send them to the government schools that they work at, but because they dont want their kids to be included with the less desirables. The irony right. It’s good for them (locals) but not good for us (expats).

        You think the private schools have that problem? The private schools basically pick the cream of the crop. They pick choose and refuse. Its not that their teachers are better, they just have it easier with kids that don’t require as much. And if a kid starts to exhibit problems then they send a nicely worded letter to the parents advising that little Timmy no longer meets the schools ethos and that his attendance is no longer desired.

        Lets be honest, this is really a class and socioeconomic divide issue. The fact that the schools have been segregated is a root cause of the problem. Its keeping the divide more pronounced and it’s far reaching in society I.e employment, housing etc.

        I believe Dan Scott said he would be addressing these sort if issues. So waiting to see. They say he’s smart….

        Expat married to a Caymanian teacher.

        • Anonymous says:

          My Son attended CIS from grade 1 to graduation. He had special needs and CIS accommodated him at every turn. They go out of their way to accommodate most if not all kids. Some teachers were more accommodating than other but as a parent of a special needs child it’s your obligation to fight hammer and tong for their accommodations. You can’t sit back and expect the school to understand little Timmy like his parents do. I can’t speak on the other private schools but your argument holds no water when it comes to the subject matter School, CIS.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you heard the saying “correlation does not imply causation”?

    • Lynne Walton says:

      They haven’t fully adopted a British system. The Brits overhauled there system a few years back because of the many shortfalls but surprise surprise Dept of Ed here ignored the overall and just kept doing what is has been doing for years… covering their axx just enough to keep their big salaries.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well done CIS!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mount Trashmore’s toxic shadow probably cost them more than a few marks. It really does smell bad at the moment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not at CIS. It smells bad down by Marbel Drive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask the Water Authority what the smell is.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh please don’t pick on WAC, they’re just trying to cover up their BS.

      • Anonymous says:

        The chronically rank poo smell, often blamed on the dump, is from four enormous open-air, human poo, waste stabilization sewage treatment lagoons just east of Mt Trashmore. These gigantic turd-ponds reek worst right after a fresh rainfall.

        Cayman’s 50 story Al-Burj McKeeva is going to have fantastic luxurious views of these exciting shitheaps, with an invite-only, private VIP 50th floor zipline over the flaming trash mountain and the varying aromas of poo pond to the airport.

        Just hold on tightly to your suitcases, close your eyes, and imagine being on your private jet flying the hell out of here.

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