Teachers discuss policy and concerns with government

| 04/02/2014

(CNS):With the issue of teacher morale still an issue throughout the education system government is attempting to improve channels of communication between the front line educators and policy makers with the launch of a national teachers’ forum. The education ministry has held two meetings with teachers but officials have not yet outlined what concerns have been raised by front line school staff. In a release last month officials said the forums were designed for teachers to share their thoughts, concerns and suggestions on the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Education and education in general and for officials to share policy developments.

At the first meeting in October teachers were invited to share the successes and concerns of their respective schools, the release stated. Education minister Tara Rivers reminded participants that the forum provided an opportunity for people to speak freely and have issues addressed in a solution focused manner. 

In December teacher representatives from all public primary and secondary schools in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac (via Skype), met for a second time at the Government Administration Building under Rivers chairmanship.

“We have to ensure that our educators are not only given the opportunity to find out about the various education initiatives, but they must be part of and actively engaged in the system that we use to refine our plans as we work towards improved student achievement,” the minister said about the meetings.

Winston Connolly, the councillor in the ministry said  the forum was established to improve communication within the Education System, for teachers to be actively involved in the implementation of the education plan and to ensure the department and the ministry are available and held accountable for delivering the relevant guidance and support to schools.

As part of the agenda for the December meeting, Rivers and Mary Rodrigues the chief officer in the ministry shared a number of proposed initiatives that are intended to focus on teacher development and their mental and emotional well-being.  These initiatives include training for middle management leadership; on-going training in literacy, numeracy and ICT strategies; a programme of succession planning; and a few extra days off in March 2014, giving teachers a full week for half-term break,” officials said.

Rivers also facilitated a session in which the teachers were invited to share the outcomes of school-based meetings held with their respective peers in preparation for the Teachers Forum meeting.  She said the ministry would collate the teachers’ feedback given, and where necessary, provide the appropriate responses and support. 

A similar initiative was launched for parents on December 5, 2013 whereby the Ministry hosted the first ever National Parents Forum for executive members of all public school PTAs. The inaugural Parents Forum meeting was well attended and greatly appreciated by all participants. A follow up Parents Forum meeting is planned for the near future as well.
The next teacher’s forum is planned for the end of this month.

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