Specialist ‘signature schools’ planned

  • The Minister of Education and Workforce Development Diallo Rabain (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A three-pronged process will be used to develop proposals for Bermuda’s “signature schools”, the Minister of Education said yesterday.

Diallo Rabain said that the exercise, expected to last at least 18 months, would involve consultation and creation of a plan before the schools, which will offer different specialist subjects, opened their doors.

Mr Rabain said: “We intend to take as long as we can to get as much community engagement as we can.”

He added that the process would provide time for interested parties “to voice their opinion, for or against, so that in the end, the final product is one that is in the best interest of our students and the future of Bermuda”.

Mr Rabain said: “We understand that there are many questions about what this will eventually look like, and firmly believe the answers are in our individual and collective voices.”

He added that “more diverse programming” was already being provided in public schools.

He said: “These efforts will be further advanced through the development of signature schools.”

Mr Rabain explained schools would be designed to meet individual student needs, prepare students for postsecondary education and increase confidence in the public school system.

He said the first stage of the plan will include “engaging with our stakeholders, growing trust, putting together the right team and establishing the necessary elements to support the development of signature schools”.

Phase two would develop proposals using feedback from phase one.

Mr Rabain added: “At the end of phase two, the Government will consider the recommended options, and determine which proposals will best meet the future needs of our students.”

A review of the final proposals will be carried out in phase three, before a final decision is made.

Mr Rabain said each phase would take about six months.

He added that the opening of the new-style schools would be dependent on the consultation.

Mr Rabain said: “Once we finish with that process, that will outline for us how long it will take to go from the planning stage to the implementation stage.”

Mr Rabain said that there was no price tag attached yet for the consultation period.

He added that the Progressive Labour Party had carried out “extensive” consultation with teachers and the public after it lost power in the 2012 General Election.

He said that the exercise had found there was a “lack of trust in the public school system” that started at middle schools. Mr Rabain said: “Parents were saying they had no intention of allowing their children to go to the public school system when it came to middle schools.

“They were removing their children from that stage.”

The Progressive Labour Party promised in its 2017 election platform to reform public education by phasing out middle schools in favour of secondary level signature schools.

The manifesto said the schools would focus on the learning styles and interests of students, including academic, technical and trades, business, sports and arts subjects.