New governance for education system

Education Minister Alden McLaughin announced in the Legislative Assembly on 19 November that under the newly formed Department of Education Services, the Schools Inspectorate will be replaced with a body called the Education Standards and Assessment Unit, which will have the added task of assessing private schools receiving government funding.

Under the recently implemented national education governance model, the Minister said ESAU will evaluate and report on what the schools do well and what needs improvement; while the Department of Education Services will support schools to move forward using Learning Community Leaders and other services to put support mechanisms in place.

‘A review of the Schools Inspectorate was conducted on the one hand to reaffirm the independence of the work of this unit as it provides quality assurance reports on the quality of education being provided within all of our public schools, and on the other hand, to examine the scope of the work undertaken thus far by the unit, and to consider its ongoing currency in the context of rapidly changing practices in education,’ he said.

Taking the new national curriculum as an example, the role of a school inspections unit would involve assessing the extent to which schools are achieving the criteria articulated in the profile of the educated Caymanian as outlined by the National Consensus on the Future of Education in the Cayman Islands document.

Beyond this, the revamped unit will provide a range of similar services to other agencies where their programmes contain an education component.

Under this new structure, ESAU Officers (formerly known as school inspectors) will have a link role with the four Learning Community Leaders rather than with individual schools as was previously the case.

The minister stressed that in order to ensure that educational standards are met and maintained, it is customary for Government and private schools to typically undergo assessments every four years.

Evaluations are based on criteria set out in the Handbook for the Evaluation of Schools (2008 edition) using a scale of 1 through 4, where 1 is at the top end.

If a school is judged to be ‘very good’ (ie Grade 1) in terms of its overall effectiveness, then it may not receive another evaluation for five or six years.

A school that is judged to be providing an unsatisfactory standard of education (Grade 4) will be visited for a progress review within two years of the initial evaluation, and a full assessment will be conducted again two years later.

All schools found to be wanting in terms of the quality of education provided are required to either submit an action plan or modify its existing school improvement plan to show how it will address the weaknesses highlighted by the evaluation.

The Minister said ESAU will undertake a range of surveys that look across schools or other educational provision, to provide a view of the quality of provision across the islands. The Unit will also produce thematic reports based on summarising issues from evaluation reports or from research from all contributors to the development of educational policy.

‘With the responsibility for school improvement and professional development now resting with the Chief Education Officer, the ESAU is now better positioned to operate more autonomously in carrying out its primary functions, which are evaluating the quality of teaching and learning (especially with respect to fulfilling the profile of the educated Caymanian) and providing policy advice,’ said Minister McLaughlin.

An educated Caymanian will:

?Be enthusiastic and motivated about learning, and will continue to extend his/her knowledge and skills after leaving school.

? Be literate, numerate and adept at using information and communication technology.

? Be a good communicator.

? Be creative and appreciative of the arts.

? Have a positive outlook and a high self-esteem.

? Be well-rounded, good at finding solutions to problems, flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances and demands.

? Have a strong work ethic and willingness to become an honest, reliable and responsible member of the work force

? Be respectful of God, him/herself, others, people from different backgrounds, the environment and property.

? Be proud of, and knowledgeable about, our Caymanian culture, whilst respectful of other cultures and beliefs.

? Be a good team player, civic-minded and willing to serve.

? Have an awareness of global issues affecting aspects of life in the 21st century.

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