The Ministry of Education has announced that starting in 2009, under the Better Pathways, Brighter Futures plan, all students attending government schools will begin receiving more personalized support, along with an extra year of high school.
The programme, announced Thursday, will make it compulsory for students to attend Year 12, whereas at present students may leave school after completing Year 11. Students currently in Years 9 and 10 will be the first cohort subject to the mandatory Year 12 requirement.
The intention is to open up options for students by increasing the types of study streams that can be pursued.
‘One size does not fit all students – all students are individuals, with individual sets of skills and abilities, individual learning needs and individual interests,’ said Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin.
‘It is well-recognised in education fraternities around the world that students require personalized support to succeed.’
This aspect of the programme would involve adding more options for every student, not just top performers, by allowing study streams to encompass not only academics but options with social and local relevance such as leisure and tourism, heath and social care, ICT, and even auto mechanics.
Presently, students that attend George Hicks in Years 7 to 9 study a broad based curriculum. Students in John Gray in Years 10, 11, and 12, sit exams at the end of Year 12.
Under the new system, Year 12 could be used to either re-sit exams, or to go on to advanced study. All students in Years 10 and 11 will have the opportunity for personal counselling and assistance to aid them in developing an individualized career development plan, and to map out their education goals accordingly.
The move is planned to coincide with the construction of Cayman’s three new High Schools, for which contract negotiations are presently underway.
‘With Better Pathways, students in Years 7-9 will continue to study a broad-based curriculum. Because the new secondary campuses will absorb both junior and senior High School classes, students from Years 7 to 11 will be able to take their options in Years 10 and 11, as is the standard in nations around the world,’ said Minister McLaughlin.
‘During these Years students will also continue to pursue and improve their skills in core areas, for example literacy and numeracy.’
Under the new programme, the study track students currently follow in Year 12 will be offered to students in Year 11.
The Minister said the aim is to provide students with the opportunity to build a useful portfolio of qualifications both through the completion of formal assessments such as the Caribbean Examination Council’s CSEC examinations, commonly known as the CXCs and other international qualifications such as the IGCSE.
Aside from these examinations, with the new Year 12 requirement in place, students will be able to pursue a number of further options.
These include two-Year academic streams in Years 12 and 13 leading to such qualifications as the International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement exams and A-levels, the latter to be offered at private schools, all of which are widely recognised international university-entrance requirements.
Year 12 options will also include training and vocational programmes aligned with University College of the Cayman Islands study streams.
In addition, the Year 12 requirement will allow students to re-sit or repeat examination courses already taken in Year 11, which Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler says will provide a vital safety net for students by giving them a second chance.
‘I can’t tell you how many times students have come to me after having left school, saying that if they only knew that by studying a little harder, and putting a bit more effort, entering the job market would not have been such a challenge,’ she said.
‘Now, they can have another chance at getting it right.’
The Year 12 addition will also offer an opportunity for students to participate in work placement or apprenticeship programmes.