WEPS tops child/teacher ratio

| 27/03/2014

(CNS): The  West End Primary School (WEPS) on Cayman Brac has a better student/teacher ratio than the Lighthouse School, which is dedicated to special education needs (SEN) students. WEPS has six children for every teacher, compared to a student/teacher ratio of about 7:1 at Lighthouse. At the Brac's Creek & Spot Bay (C&SB) primary the ratio is about 8:1, compared to 9½:1 at North Side, the school with the most teachers per child of all primaries on Grand Cayman other than Lighthouse, according to figures released by the education ministry following a freedom of information request by CNS. However, the ministry's chief officer has said that the data for Cayman’s primary schools indicates no strong connection between the size of the class and students outcomes.

"In fact, some of our largest classes, in some cases including our maximum class size of 28, have the highest rates of progress and achievement in mathematics and English according to the data, whereas other smaller classes, including some of only 5 students, have the lowest progress rates," CO Mary Rodrigues told CNS.

The figures provided (see below) do not include the Little Cayman Education Service, which has three primary students taught by one teacher and one teacher's aide. The numbers include classroom teachers as well as staff for specific areas, such as physical education, music, art and SEN, some of whom teach at more than one school, which accounts for the fractions of teachers in the numbers supplied.

Peripatetic staff on Cayman Brac teach at two schools over three campuses. Since the Creek and Spot Bay schools successfully amalgamated in 2003, the Reception class through Year 3 have been taught at the Creek, while kids in Years 3 to 6 attend the Spot Bay campus.

The total number of primary students on Cayman Brac is 137, from Reception through Year 6. There are seven classes at C&SB, the smallest being Year 1 with five students and the largest being Year 3 with 16. At WEPS there are only two year-group classes in double figures: Reception with 12 children and Year 4 with ten. Of the rest, there is one class of five students, two of six and the others have seven and nine children.

The schools with the highest student/teacher ratio are Prospect Primary (about 19:1) and Savannah (about 18:1). John A. Cumber Primary has the most students, with a current enrollment of 587 and about 16 children per teacher. Red Bay has a ratio of about 15:1, while Bodden Town and George Town primaries each have slightly more than 13 children per full time teaching staff.

The smallest school on Grand Cayman is North Side with 88 students, and the school has a better student/teacher ratio than the next smallest, East End, which has 108 students and slightly more than 12 students per teacher. 

Commenting on the figures,  Chief Officer Rodrigues pointed out that most researchers support the position that class size is only one factor impacting student outcomes and that teacher effectiveness is a more significant factor in promoting student success.

While there is no clear consensus among international researchers on the impact of reducing class sizes, Rodrigues said, in terms of budget decisions there is consensus that when it comes to raising student attainment, class size reduction policies are not the best option to get value for money compared to others, such as increasing teacher effectiveness.

“Much of the discussion depends upon what the starting point for class size reduction actually is,” she added, noting that in some successful countries, such as Japan, class sizes can be over 40, though most countries maintain primary classes in the low 20's wherever possible.

With regards to very small classes, the chief officer pointed out that some research indicates that reducing class sizes below 10-15 children has no increased benefit and may even have negative impacts. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of the amount of children to a class or the Teachers, the Cayman Brac student will always come out on top. Reason being  {1} after 6pm no child can be found roaming the Streets in the Brac, they are more disciplined and its like a competition for each child to excel in their education. You see the Bracers do not like to take the back seat and they are also the leading people of Grand Cayman. Take them out and what do we have left. [2] It has been said that the Bluff food has so much minerals in it that the children benefit from eating the food from off the Bluff. [3] Last my no means the least the Brac children are raised in homes of God fearing people and every weekend these kids are in church.

    • Anonymous says:

       Kind of a silly comment. Very few kids are home snug in their beds after 6. Check Popos and see who lives off pizza and fries. Also there's always a lot going on at the sports field and the high school in the evening, so how many are actually home.? Very few people here are eating "bluff food". Almost everything is imported. Would you like that apple with a bruise? Why are Brackers still content to take credit for what other Brackers have accomplished by moving to Grand Cayman?. In reality, those people had ambition and drive whereas most of the Brackers remaining in the Brack really do not. You're proud of that?

  2. Anonymous says:

    These numbers are not accurate. Taking the number of students at a school and dividing it by the number of “teachers” there does not reflect the true class sizes. Our school has 18 teachers and 6 aides assigned to classrooms. Every class does not have an aide, and no class has less than 20 students. Yet, it is reported here that we have a student-teacher ratio of 15:1?!?!
    The largest classes have 28 kids, smallest class has 20. Did we use a real formula here?!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible that some of these small classes, who have "the lowest progress rates" are a small class of 5 or 6 struggling students who were taken out of the mainstream so that they can be given a bit more help?  Without context, numbers can be used to prove any point.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I'd love to know what some of the private schools on island have as their ratio of students to teachers. Some way we can actually compare the government educational system vs. that of the private schools so we can see what exactly justifies their far more expensive school fees.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Anyone who knows education will confirm the optimum student teacher ratios are 24:1 or 16:1 for children who do not have special needs.  These low student teacher ratios are not only expensive, they produce poorer educational and behavioural outcomes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not true. They have included all teachers, including music and art teachers, to make the student teacher ratio appear lower. I currently have 26 students. The last few years I have ranged between 24 and 28 students. Whatever statistics you are quoting are wrong for the larger schools.

  6. Anonymous says:

    To Mi Esperanza. My kids went to West End but my grandkids to Creek and Spot Bay. Would never send any of my family back to West End School. Creek and Spot Bay all the way. The teachers and the system there is the best in the Brac.

  7. Next Question says:

    In contravention of the Educucation Law, how many unqualified persons, such as teachers aides for example, have been left with soie resposibility for classrooms full of students? The figures forthis week alone should suffice to make the point.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly!! Ask Hon Rivers how many chidlren in West Bay are being taught by a capable Teachers' Assistant, (and from what I hear she's a great teacher) most of the time.

      Can you imagine if we got rid of some of these so-called experts, deputies;

      and refuse to hire the most recent advertised position of more advisors for senior staff (ASSISTANT TO PRINCIPALS WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SO QUALIFED, EXPERIENCED AND HAVE DEPUTIES);

      thousands of dollars that could be used to hire more assistants for teachers; but

      instead we have Ministers and Chief Officers who know they will be paid a great deal of money, so it's easier to hire people to 'look' as if they're doing so much work because of teh usual reports and their children are being educated at private schools. I am convinced they read these commenst and simply get together and laugh until election time then they bring out gifts, send a child to a public school if they have one to spare and we the people continue to suffer by having to watch our children deal with public school, pay more fees to cover their mistakesand have an increasing number of students who could not get proper education end up in criminal activity. So don't laugh too hard we all need to work at improving this situation regardless of how much money we have today.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Little Cayman school has three students with two teachers


    • Anonymous says:

      I once saw a delegation comprised of the Minister for Education, the Chief Officer and a staffer flying over to inspect the Little Cayman facility. Not sure they had time to meet each and every student.

  9. Otherview says:

    So……..If the CIG transfers 3/4 of a teacher to Grand from da Brac, things will be better 

    and more in balance…????

  10. Anonymous says:

    What we really need is a total overhaul of the CURRICULUM!!!!! We complain about teachers. So we get different ones. We complain about parents. But some great parents have struggling children. We complain about administrators. Why are we ignoring the white elephant in the room? Oftentimes, behavioral problems get worse and worse out of student frustrations that they don't understand what is being taught. They get behind and give up because THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND.

    • Parent of 3 top-performing students says:

      We need an overhaul of parenting skills in Cayman, it takes hard work, extra attention and serious dedication of a PARENT to help their child excel, teachers cannot be expected to discipline AND teach people's children! Chilren must have the basics of learnng set  in place before they even hit preschool!

      • Anonymous says:

        By your reasoning all parents must be qualified tecahers.

        Do you really think all parents, even at private schools can tecah their chidlren an entire curriculum?

        Yes, the three parties involved in the process, teachers/parents/students at private schools are usually more focused and accountable but ask any educated Caymanian who attended public schools if it was their parents' specific education level that helped them succeed? Or rather wasn't it due to mainly to teachers' motivation and assistance during the 12 years of education?

  11. Autry Foster says:

    When I went to West End Primary School between 1957 and 1964 there were three teachers and I would say close to 100 students in 8 classes, all in one building.

  12. Mi Esperanza says:

    Now come on. You really can’t expect West Enders and Spot Bayers to mix with each other, especially when they are young and impressionable.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Can the Education Ministry's Chief Officer please use Queens English instead of gobbledygook. Why on earth is she referring to student performance as student OUTCOMES?. No wonder the children are confused when confronted with such ridiculous  terminology.

    • Ed. says:

      I never imagined that I would ever defend the Chief Education Officer but here goes:

      ‘Outcome’ means, “the way things turn out”.

      That is the perfect word for the Chief Officer to use in this context.  You know what she means and so does everyone else.  What other word or words would you use?

      “Results” is a synonym of ‘outcome’ and so to some degree is “performance” but a reader would have interpreted, “student results” or “student performance” as a reference to their academic record only.

      ‘Student outcomes’ is an indication of the general and academic achievements of a student body.

      If you want to attack the Chief Officer, select another aspect of her performance because, as we all know, there are several to choose fro m.

      • Anonymous says:

        Outcome is a term of art prescribed by our wonderful Public Finance Management Law. If you are a government department outcomes correlate to your annual budget spend.

        Now we can debate the irony of outcomes and government until the cows come home……..

  14. Anonymous says:

    That's because Brackers are extra special.

  15. Anonymous says:

    So tell me, which campus on the Brac can appropriately accommodate the larger class sizes?

  16. Anonymous says:

    The problem is that the students are placed into sets.

    The brighter students do work at a set 1-2 level and the less bright are moved down all the way to set 5-6. The learning problem happens when the children in set 3-6 are allowed to move on to the next year without proving that they are capable of doing the required work. If a child does not understand the work assigned in any year, how can they understand the work the follwing year.

    The failure of education is part systemic and part lack of initiative by student and parent. No one should be allowed to move to the next year untill they meet grade requirement. In a situation where the child is known to be high risk they should be given extra attention to break the cycle.

    Tom can only do as good as his parent (s) can teach!  

  17. Anonymous says:

    "Creek and Spot Bay schools successfully amalgamated in 2003" is untrue. The two schools did not amalgamate. Rather the schools were redivided into younger and older age groups. With years 4-6 at one campus and the younger students at the other campus. All the while continuing to maintain separate principalsand senior teachers for each school/campus.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Don't beleive everything you read. Walk in to any of these schools and you will see these numbers in no way refelct average class sizes. You need to learn to ask the real questions. How many of these teachers on payroll actually teach?

  19. Anonymous says:

    The real problem with public education in the Cayman Islands has little to do with class size. The truth is that the real problem is ineffective leadership starting at the chief officer level. Over paid, under performing management would have been replaced many years ago if it were the private sector. The civil service idea of keeping non performing staff needs to stop.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Most countries would kill for those kind of ratios. So where is the problem? (I note the comment on the high and low achievers). What goes wrong that the system produces so many people not fit to work. What are the secondary school ratios?

  21. Anonymous says:

    As we keep getting reports and results that indicate the need for improvement in classroom management/student behaviour, we're increasing the 'consultants' at the top. 

    Are the senior management simply rewarding teachers who have now left or ready for retirement and don't want to give up their pay check?

    Is our Minister approving these vacancies without having a working knowledge of the system?

    The primary and secondary schools on Grand Cayman need more classroom teachers' assistants and less over-paid experts. We must have the greatest number of specialists to student ratio than most schools and behaviour problems are increasing.

    Yes, let's blame teh parents right? If it is the parents' fault then why not get rid of the experts who are clearly proving to not be providing value for money and put that money into preventative measures such as Caymanian and caring teachers, effective management by principals, parental classes, programmes for young parents and employment opportunities.


    There is currently a new senior position to SUPPORT principals, thousands of dollars to give job security for who will probably be a teacher at retirement age and or a friend of a teacher already employed in the education dept/ministry.

    It is the allocation of funds that continue to illustrate a disregard for the public and our expectations for good governance. Who will have the audacity to question this new position? We could have 2-3 teacher's aides who may be interested in starting a career, but instead we keep pacifying these teachers and refuse to just let them go!

    • Anonymous says:

      The issue today in the classroom stems from lack of proper parenting at home. Literally, ALL issues in the schools are steming from this. Children are being negelcted at home being abused, molested, not fed etc. They are sent to shcool in this condition everyday, alot of them. The Brac has never had the numbers we have on Grand Cayman, thus it easier to see progress over there than here, and with such small classrooms (being number of students per class) they are in a better position than what we have here where you will see in ANY governent school 25-30 kids per classroom and not always 2 teachers present at all times either! CHECK THAT OUT.

      Law says 1 teacher per every10 children. So in a classroom of say 30kids you need 3 members of staff present, be it 1 teacher & 2 aides.



      • Parent says:

        I completely agree, my daughter gets teased by classmates for being a bookworm and top of the class, this has nothing to do with TEACHERS, this has to do with parents NOT TEACHING theirchildren to respect, care for and supporteachother. Parents are here to instill the basics of life and learning, teachers can only build on the foundation we as parents are expected to form. I am so sick and tired of hearing that it is our school system, our teachers, our government. It is LACK OF PARENTING, and here is how it starts. A HUGE majority of the parents who have primary aged children nowadays were teen moms, I had my currently 10 year old when I was 17 years old and a majority of all other parents that I see at the school are my past classmates, friends or whoever – luckily I realized the importance of instilling ALL knowledge to her and my 10 year old has already started researching colleges and is very advanced in every area. This stems from teaching her constantly from the day she could crawl until now and forever. Unfortunately it seems that to most young parents children are an accessory – but if anyone was to do the research it could easily be verified that many primary-aged children's parents are under 30 years old, which indicates they were young inexperienced teens at the child's birth. And I was a teen mom so I can nonjudgmentally say this because it is a verified observance that everyone else seems to have missed.  

        • Anonymous says:

          The problems do not stem from one specific problem. It is a mixture of many issues. There are many parents who work alongside children. However since we have a system which does not use text books, does not provide support material, does not provide a timetable or course outline at the Primary level a parent has difficulty. Parent may teach at home but that isnt the method used at school. To top that the children's notebooks are held hostage. Teacher gives out an email address but never responds. Children who have some educational difficulties are deemed ok because they are not wrecking the classroom. I know because I was one of them. So I stand today for all the parents who try to participate but are stopped due to lack of resources and school administrators who think you are pushy.