High hopes at George Hicks

The newly appointed school leaders of the revamped George Hicks High School say they are looking forward to a year that will bring about higher student achievement through more personalized schools, time for after school activities, and improved parent involvement.

George Hicks School leaders, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin and Gareth Long, Strategic Development Advisor (Education) saw the future on a recent trip they made to the UK.

The leaders were there to learn about the new school model being used for George Hicks, which is to become four separate and distinct 250-student learning units called Leading Edge, Heritage, PACE and New Horizons.

Mr. Long described how the group, comprised of the four school leaders and four deputy school leaders had the opportunity to spend a week touring a variety of schools in an intensive professional development training experience on school leadership.

The Cayman school leaders were offered insider access and shadowing opportunities to learn about new techniques and strategies in different leadership situations they will likely face in their new jobs.

The motivation behind reorganizing George Hicks was to improve student attainment and social education.

They saw that the need to create students fitting the profile of well socialized, educated members of society is not unique, and that it can be realized.

‘We found the schools we visited had many of the same problems we have here, and they were able to successfully address them,’ said Leading Edge School Leader Lyneth Monteith.

She remarked that swift resolution of issues was greatly helped by the fact that all the necessary support systems and agencies were already in place.

Another aspect the UK schools trip demonstrated was the overall enthusiasm at the schools.

‘Students were telling us that they were not being taught at but rather, going a learning journey with the teachers,’ said Mr. Long.

That is because the new system supports students by creating a more personalized learning environment and teachers by providing them with educational and social support to help them meet challenging standards.

All the leaders expressed excitement about a noticeably positive change in staff attitudes. On their trip they could see how optimistic, enthusiastic staff could make marked changes in the overall success of a school.

They also discussed how the schools’ competitive atmospheres drive success. They saw how achievement and satisfaction were boosted in a competitive environment that spanned staff, student and inter-school relations.

And this is not happening in a vacuum. Parents are also expected to participate in supporting the students.

Mr. Long said that recent parent meetings have attracted 400 parents, who he says have expressed their unanimous support for the changes, happy that their children would be doing better in smaller communities that would allow for better monitoring and support of their progress.

‘They were very positive about the smaller schools, wanting to get involved and offer support, and they were already to increase their participation in bringing about the desperately needed changes in the school’s culture,’ he said.