Pre school centres pressed to improve

| 19/06/2014

(CNS): With a wide range of standards in quality across pre-schools, early education centres, nurseries, kindergartens, day care and school reception classes, government is working through the registration or re-registration of existing centres under new more stringent guidelines and regulations. Progress reports released via an FOI requested by CNS have revealed some significant disparity of quality, with only half of the country’s pre-schools making the grade. According to the progress reports, problems range from environmental dangers at the facilities to poor learning and nurturing, where in some cases staff are not even speaking with the kids in their care.

Aware that there is a wide range of quality in early child care, the education ministry embarked on a project several years ago to improve standards and officials stated recently that the new registration process is moving forward following all of the first inspections of the relevant premises.

Senior Policy Advisor and Early Childhood Care and Education Manager, Carol Bennett, said there was some wide differences in standards.

“While we have some centres that provide the very best in quality learning experiences, inspections and the work of the Ministry’s Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Unit tell us that, from an initial baseline review in 2013, roughly half of the centres have aspects where improvements are needed or where there are significant weaknesses,” she added.

Although some are doing very well and ready for registration, the inequalities and concerns at some centre are now the main focus of the unit. Government says early childhood education is a critical area and it wants to provide access to high quality care and education to all kids, regardless of income, background, special or additional education needs.

Following the inspections, a number of initiatives have been completed in an effort to meet the goals of the new registration regime. Officials from the education ministry said this included clear and agreed standards and guidance for centres to improve their practices. 

“Standards require strategies to help centres achieve the kind of results our children deserve,” said Mary Rodrigues, the ministries chief officer.

The ECCE Unit has worked with various other government agencies to implement the new standards relating to not just the safety and well-being of the children but the learning environment.The first group of early childhood centres that have been presented to the Education Council for re-registration are some of government’s own pre-school reception classes, which are the first to be reviewed

“We felt it was important to test the new registration process in this way,” said Bennett, who said it was an important quality assurance measure for reception classes to also participate.
All other pre-school care and education centres have been put on a schedule for re-registration depending on the expiration of their trade and business licences.

“There is also a period prior to the inspections where the early childhood centre can receive additional support to identify and rectify any issues that may hinder re-registration,” Tunisia Barnes, an ECCE officer said.

The facilities are evaluated according to care and education provision, premises and facilities, health and safety as well as the leadership and management. The ECCE Unit will continue with the re-registration schedule throughout the next three quarters with the goal of presenting all early childhood care to the Education Council before the end of the 2014-2015 fiscal year. 

Bennett explained that guidelines have been created to help pre-schools meet the needs of the children in their care.

“We know the range in quality of our centres is too wide. The information from the various agencies involved in the registration and re-registration processes is compiled in the Guidelines so that all stakeholders can be aware of standards and expectations for the centres,” she said. “Owners and managers of the ECCE centres may use the sample forms and policies in the document as templates for developing the requirements for their centres.  This document is a valuable tool for existing … owners and prospective owners”. 

Guidelines and other information can be accessed on the Ministry of Education’s website by following the “Education” link, and on to the “Early Childhood” page.

The guidelines and samples of reports are posted below.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am  a pre shool teacher and qalified too. I love children and its always my pleasure to work with them, however, its very depressing and demoralising to be over worked by our employers by under staffing the institutions, false promises to pay rise and also to improve working conditions. Imagine the owner of the school announced that we aren't supposed to charge phones, laptops etc at work as this increase bills and yet we use our gadgets to facilitate learning and also communicate to the parents…..smh

  2. Anonymous says:

    Preschools in the cayman islands do not provide a nurturing environment.  How could they when you have under paid  underqualified staff to take care of our most precilus asset…..our children.  They  are not child friendly and certainly you only have to walk into any of them to be hit by the deafening silemce.  However, they put on great displays for occasions.  Oh that the effort was put into providing a rich, caring and exploring environment.  

  3. Anonymous says:

    Did you see the advert for a "teacher" to work at Shining Stars preschool in this week's Cayman Reporter? You must have a diploma or BS in Early Childhood (Education) and the pay is $800 to $950 per month! I wonder if we can do an FOI request for how many of the "teachers " in our preschools have a BS in Early Childhood? Also, how many speak English as their first language.

    According to Sue Palmer, a UK Literacy expert who wrote Toxic Childhood, quality langauge interactrion is key later literacy development:

    4) In a social species, communication skills are vital, so the fourth developmental must-have is language. This starts with a ‘dance of communication’ between parent and babe-in-arms, usually accompanied by exaggerated babytalk and simple songs. Then, as they grow towards the teenage years, children need loving adults to talk (and listen) to them, as well as opportunities to talk (and listen) to friends during play.

    5) Given these four essential foundations, almost every child should be able to take advantage of education, starting with literacy. But this doesn’t need to start too soon. There’s wide international agreement that, until the age of six or seven, it’s better to prepare the ground for learning through plenty of play (including music, art and drama) and opportunities for spoken language. 

    It is important that schools employ people who speak standard English fluently. How can they do that while paying 800/900 per month!

    Her book is a great read, btw.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How did the non-English speaking staff get permits?  No one should ever employ non-English speaking staff as caretakers in any capacity.  If there is an emergency and tehy can't communicate to the emergency personnel what then?


  5. Anonymous says:

    Government lacks enforcement in all areas! Pre-schools, restaurants, unlicensed businesses, unlicensed street vendors you name it……This all contributes to the downfall of society cause it doesn't  seem that rules and regulations applyso everyone does whatever they want to.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anarchy; A situation of confusion and wild behavior in  which the people of a country, group,organization,etc., are not control by rules or law.

      One just have to look at the lane, next to the Kirk House… court building. Both sides of that lane is crambed with parked cars.

  6. John says:

    Just want to say that my 2 y/o daughter attends the Oxford Learning Academy and we are very pleased with her pre-school.  Her vocabulary is wonderful and she is being taught to be polite and to treat others how she wants to be treated.  I am happy with the staff for the most part, the conditions are good, the food is good, and there is a nice balance between structured education and playtime learning.  

  7. Anonymous says:


    These need serious improvements!
    For the amount of money paid, these kids could be sent to college!

    Not that the staff receive fair wages – which is probably why SOME of them  are so cold to kids.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to call out but the conditions at XXXXX preschool is deplorable not sure how the education department allow this school to operate

    • Anonymous says:

      This is long overdue and I too wonder how the h.ll some of them get a license to operate. I hope that quick action is taken.