School year starts with news of improved exam results

| 09/09/2013

(CNS): Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler revealed significant improvements in overall student results for the end of the last school year. Speaking at the Annual Education Professionals’ Welcome, the head of education announced the best external exam results since the National Curriculum was introduced five years ago. The pass rate has doubled since 2008, when just 29.6% of students gained five or more ‘Level 2’ passes (CXC CSEC Grades I – III or GCSE Grades A* – C or equivalent). this year that figure has risen to 62.7%. Acting Chief Officer Christen Suckoo delivered the official welcome at the Mary Miller hall, where over 500 education professionals met.

“Educators play a significant role in the minds and memories of students they’re in contact with,” said Suckoo. “They are mentors and relationship builders, instrumental to student engagement and human development.”

The welcome brought together principals, teachers, counsellors, ministry officials and department staff for an opportunity to converse, welcome new members and set the stage for the new school year’s objectives and expectations.

Education Minister Tara Rivers highlighted the past year's progress and addressed existing challenges. She pointed to the need for persistent focus on numeracy and literacy, as well as life skills to develop healthy choices, conflict resolution and crime prevention and intervention. 

“We will continue to build on the solid foundation and existing framework of the Strategic Plan for Education 2012-2017 and we will further develop a child-centred approach with a curriculum which addresses gifted and challenged students,” said Rivers. “Change is constant in a learning environment, and therefore we too need to evolve to ensure a robust future for our children and our country.”

This student centred approach was reinforced when 6-year-old George Town Primary School student Trevor Carmola Jr offered the opening prayer and Lighthouse School student Jared Myles sang the National Song.

The newly appointed deputy chief officer, Dr Tasha Ebanks Garcia, spoke about improving opportunities for students to acquire more qualifications and develop skills for independent learning so that they could be positioned for academic, professional and personal success. She highlighted importance of the recently introduced Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) in providing opportunities to students who need to close the gap between high school and college, as well as opportunities for those who are preparing for advancement to higher level studies.

“CIFEC provides opportunities through various means for a student to build the bridge to future learning, “said Dr Garcia.  “It opens a door for those that may have been struggling academically and for those who have a strong academic background it provides opportunities to gain internationally recognized qualifications that support the progression to the next levels of education. At CIFEC students learn life skills as well as gain skills in academic and technical/vocational areas, empowering them to take control of their future.”

The educators were also told about the Golden Apple Awards in November, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ministry of Education to celebrate outstanding educators.

Meanwhile, 15 newly qualified Caymanian teachers who have joined the government education system took part in an induction session at the Government Administration Building. Since the education minister was in South Africa for the CPA meeting, it fell to her counsellor in the ministry, Winston Connolly, whose mother was a teacher, to welcome them on board.

“The quality of teaching is the most powerful predictor of student success and the Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring that newly qualified Caymanian teachers are equipped with tools that will help them to be effective and successful,” Connolly told them.

The NQT Induction Programme is an initiative of the ministry designed to support new Caymanian teachers by providing a year-long bridge between initial teacher education, and a career in teaching. Over the course of the year the teachers will attend monthly workshops targeting specific issues such as classroom management, literacy strategies, numeracy strategies and assessment techniques.

“We recognise that there are unique challenges that teachers face during their first year of teaching, and we want to ensure that our newly qualified Caymanian teachers are provided with early and on-going support that is well planned to meet their needs,” Suckoo said. “By providing such support, we are setting them on the right path to meet the competencies set out in the Cayman Islands National Professional Standards for Teachers, and thereby ensuring that our students receive a quality education.” 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to the students, teachers and education dept.! I notice there have been no comments on this story although it belies the often repeated claim by expats that there is a 60% ILLITERACY rate among our young people.

  2. Anonymous says:

    But isn't Dr. Tasha Ebanks-Garcia the President of ICCI? Did she quit that job to become Deputy Chief Officer?