New education model detailed

The Ministry of Education has developed a new model of governance for the education system of the Cayman Islands.

The new governance model is expected to be phased in by 1 July 2007, and operational for the start of the new school year in September 2007.

Education Minister Alden McLaughlin tabled a document in the Legislative Assembly that detailed the new model of governance.

‘The governance model… meets the needs of the education system in the Cayman Islands, adopting a philosophy of serving the student by placing them at the very centre of the model,’ he said when introducing the document.

Mr. McLaughlin said that the people and businesses of the Cayman Islands had called for change in the education system after the National Education Conference revealed that the system is not producing sufficiently qualified graduates in adequate numbers to meet the growing demands of the national economy.

The task force that was established to develop the model researched considerably the models used in other jurisdictions, the Vision 2008 report and the Millett Report among others.

The new model places the student at the centre of the organisational chart.

‘Picture a model where the components of the education system are represented by concentric circles, with the student at the very centre – at the core of the model,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

‘The student is encapsulated by the school, which is planned to promote achievement, equity and access.’

Another significant change presented by the new model is formation of Learning Communities, which are groupings of schools that exist to support teaching and learning.

The new model divides the Cayman Islands into four geographic Learning Community groups: West Bay and to the north of George Town; George Town to Prospect; Savannah, Bodden Town, East End and North Side; and Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Mr. McLaughlin said the Learning Communities will not only support the new model’s focus on meeting the needs of students, but will also introduce accountability for students’ achievement at every level.

‘To this end, the Learning Communities will facilitate the decentralisation of the necessary services and resources to schools and students, as these provisions will be readily available within the community, and within easy access of those who require them,’ he said.

In addition, Mr. McLaughlin said the Learning Communities will provide clusters of schools that will support and challenge each other in the pursuit of continual improvement of educational standards.

At the top of the Learning Community model is the Director of Education Services, to whom the Learning Community Leader will report. The schools – which will have a core focus of teaching, learning and communication – will in turn report to the Learning Community Leader.

‘In this new model, schools will enjoy direct access to educational services within the community, including guidance and counselling; student support services; financial support; ICT support; registration, attendance and truancy; facilities management; and after-hours programming.

‘In this model, all members of the learning community will be accountable for the achievements of students in their school,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

The introduction of Learning Communities will bring with it increased utilisation of school facilities, including some activities that will take place outside of normal school hours, Mr. McLaughlin said

‘An After Hours Coordinator will take over the principal’s responsibilities for operations outside of school hours, and will report for duty before the principal leaves the site to ensure a smooth handover of operational matters for the day,’ he said.

‘By extending the hours that schools are in use, government meets the needs of the community, whilst also increasing efficiencies in the usage of assets.’

The Learning Communities will each use the matrix structure as their functional model, Mr. McLaughlin said.

‘The matrix structure provides for direct lines of reporting and communication between the Learning Communities and all of the principal elements and services of the Department of Educational Services,’ he said.

All of the aspects of the new governance model will fall within the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.

‘For the Department of Education Services to achieve its objectives successfully, it must have the requisite support of the Ministry,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

‘I am referring to high quality advice and direction on policy as well as regular consultation with Ministry leaders.

Mr. McLaughlin said the Department of Education Services will be clear about the expectations of the Ministry with regard to its performance goals and the mechanisms by which progress will be assessed.

In January 2007, staff will commence the new roles outlined by the governance model and training will commence. In the meantime, the human resource department has commenced discussions with the personnel affected.

‘Starting the process now, we will ensure that staff hit the ground running, ready for start of the new school year in September 2007,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

In advance of the implementation date, the Government will make the necessary legislative changes to underpin and give authority and effect to the new governance model, he said.

Mr. McLaughlin said there would be an additional $1.3 million of funding for recurrent costs associated with the new governance model. That amount, however, does not include the cost of additional staff needed once the new high schools in Frank Sound and West Bay are built and open.

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