Education minister must engage in dialogue

  • Cole Simons

If the Minister of Education had listened to and fully engaged with our principals, teachers, parents and the Bermuda Union of Teachers in the first instance, the challenges we are seeing in education could have been avoided.

All those stakeholders, as well as the One Bermuda Alliance, have been calling for better communications, dialogue and support for months. The lesson here is that the minister cannot bulldoze things through without proper dialogue and support, as well as resources to make things work. The colossal blowback, which came at the end of last year, took the minister’s and the education ministry’s breath away. Hence, they had to reset the dial, which they are now striving to do.

Now that there has at last been some dialogue, the minister must continue to engage with all education stakeholders more frequently, and I would urge him to hold quarterly meetings between the ministry, principals and teacher representatives because they are the ones who are well equipped to provide valuable input from the front lines that will improve the quality of decisions made by the minister and the ministry.

It has gone somewhat unnoticed, but we should commend the steering committee, which redrafted the road map for the implementation of the standards-based grading system, for getting things back on track in a positive manner. This template should be used in the future when planning and deciding to roll out major initiatives that affect the delivery of education in Bermuda.

As for report cards, it is unacceptable that they still are not available. Parents and students are in the dark in regards to our students’ achievements during the autumn term of 2018.

Why could we not use the existing report-card system until the new SBG system is effectively implemented, and up and running?

Lastly, things still remain unwell with our principals, as they are still on a work-to-rule, according to the minister.

I would invite him to provide an itemised update on where things stand with regards to addressing the excessive workload, security and resource issues, which continue to provide professional anxiety for our principals.

Cole Simons is the Shadow Minister of Education and the MP for Smith’s South (Constituency 8)