Minister of Education Press Conference, June 26 2019



good morning the Ministry of Education recognizing and acknowledges the concerns that have been expressed by the parents of Padgett primary in regards to class size and teacher placement the Commissioner of Education and I met with PTA representatives of Padgett primary print and the Padgett primary principal this morning the PTA representatives were forthright in sharing that the teachers of the school had reached out to them and acts for their support after speaking with the parents and principal this morning it is unfortunate that the narrative of teachers possibly losing their employment was driven by some of the teachers themselves I can state that there will be no loss of employment by the one teacher from Padgett primary that will be reassigned in our school system every year the Department of Education reviews enrollment and allocations of teacher resources and makes adjustments in the best interests of our students this includes the routine reassignment of teachers within the system keeping with that practice Paget primary as well as several other schools were identified as schools that needed a review of staff allocation this process was discussed with principals approximately six weeks ago and I've been assured by the principle of Paget primary that she had discussed the potential reassignments with potentially effective teachers as well the ministry is committed to working with parents teachers and students to ensure that our students receive a quality education in a safe environment with the best teachers and resources made available with declining enrollment at a number of schools the ministry and the Department of Education is obliged to examine what measures best allow us to maintain our commitment to students and teachers based on their response from the principal and the assessment needs of the schools and students it was decided that one teacher from Paget's teaching staff will be reassigned to another public school for the 2019 2020 school year this will result in a for class of 22 students having one classroom teacher this means that the staffing levels at Padgett primary will be reduced by only one teacher at the p4 level the surplus P for teacher will be reallocated to fill an existing gap at other schools where the enrollment remains high the enrollment data for public schools clearly indicates a decline in the number of students as was seen in the enrollment for 2019 2020 school year a decline is projected to continue up to the year of 2026 this reality will require us to continue to examine staffing allocations at our schools and this will mean we will continue to reassign staff as needed one of the benefits of reviewing class sizes and staffing allocations is that we are able to reassign teaching staff to fill vacancies within the school system we will continue this practice and note that the restructuring of staff will ensure that we keep our teachers in the system staffing gaps are filled and quality education continues with the Bermuda public school system our focus for the upcoming year is on assuring excellent teaching a core occurs to help our students to achieve their highest potential we are committed to working with parents teachers and students to ensure that our students receive a quality education in a safe environment with the best teachers and resources made available to them thank you Gary and as I said we were very unfortunate to learn that this narrative is unfortunately erroneous narrative was one that was perpetuated by the teachers themselves the p1 class was always going to be one stream because there are only 17 students within that had enrolled into school and this year and that's been known for it for some time now and the p4 class is being reduced to one one teacher because we have as I said 22 students and p6 after we looked at looked at the situation at Padgett primary and it already had been decided before this morning that we were not going to remove the second teacher for p6 that was going to remain as is and that is in a response for looking at what was needed within the classroom and the dynamic of the students that were there already in terms of the teachers knowing as I said about six weeks ago this these conversations were had with principals and they had discussed them with the teachers and I do believe I do believe that last week the final decisions were made and sent to the principal's but the Commissioner could speak more on on that process Gary the parents of our schools are in course to discuss any issues that they have with our principals first and foremost and it would it would be the school itself that talks with the actual tea and the actual parents on the changes that are going to occur within the school and that is the expectation from us at the department and the Ministry and I'll let the Commissioner answer that question at this point we have identified some schools and we are not in a position to confirm those schools yet because we are still engaged in discussions I can handle that Gary as the public is well aware we in the process of half of restructuring our school system and looking at how we can restructure that schools our school system enrollment data is something that will be taken into account on what the eventual system will look like we are not at the position now where we're talking about what that system will be in the future but that is something that is being examined and we are looking to be in in short order coming out and revealing to the public where we think our school system needs to be in terms of our infrastructure but I do want to emphasize that it's critically important for us to first determine what is the what is the profile of the student we want to have that passes through our system once we did once that is Cadell once that is nailed down we need to talk about how do we get that student to to the point where they need to be and what teaching practices need to take place within the classroom to ensure that that happens those it will be that data that will be determined that we use to determine what type of buildings we need to make sure that occurs and we will have those critical conversations at that point Gary the government intends to restructure our school system and once that plan is in place and that plan is completed and we've consulted with the public everyone will know at that point I have not been given any mandate to ensure that this happens next year you might be referring to the comments made by the primary in the House of Assembly in which he said that it's his anticipation that we will be phasing out middle schools by the start of the next school year but he is also he also added that he will ensure that we measure not once not twice but three times before we make that change and so yes it is anticipated that we will be able to move towards that within the not by this school year but the following school year but we're not going to move until we are ready to move the consultation ones the consultation with the stakeholders are finished and that will include or that will include the general public so you will be aware of that as well the score report as well as several other reports we have the middle school improvement report that was done as well as some others will will help to formulate the plan moving forward I cannot say that because they were identified using a specific criteria and that criteria back then if you read through the school report the school report had to do with not just enrollment but I had to do with what they felt was wrong with the school itself as I said we're taking a different approach we need to determine what it is we want our schools to do and how we want our students to learn within those schools once and then we'll use that to determine what buildings was fit for purpose to do that at the pager Parmer yes the read the reassignment of teacher will proceed as I mentioned this morning as I mentioned earlier in my statement when I spoke when we spoke to the PTA they were very very understanding of where we're going and they were very knowledgeable after we spoke to them they were a bit disappointed that they felt they did feel that they were somewhat misled in what was going on and they understand exactly why it's being done and they were at the end of the meeting I would say they were generally supportive – there's a midnight in front of mystique and where teachers are advised that they hope they're going to be reassigned yes Gary teach at the May 31st deadline is to ensure is to let teachers know that they will be maintained within the system reallocation could come later so all teachers and it from my understanding all teachers were told in May 31st that yes you will be working within the school system but you may get a the ratio of students the ratio of teachers to students from P 4 through P 5 is 25 and from P 1 to P through is 18 that is the standard that has been in place since time amoral so what we have is some teachers that have gotten comfortable teaching lesser classes while we have other teachers and other schools that do teach classes that have a full complement what we've done is identified at Padgett primary that there will be a p1 the p4 class with 22 students not 25 or 26 or 27 or wearing of 22 students which is within the ratio and it will be taught by one student in terms of the added support the conversation we had today with the principal is that she is going to make the application as is done by all principles of what added support that she feels is needed at the school and it will be evaluated and addressed at the at the time the application is made objectives to reduce class sizes to low living environment Gary I don't believe you've ever heard me say that thank you

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