Reception classes may be re-introduced

The government is considering bringing back reception classes for pre-school age children to help tackle behavioural problems among very young children.

Minister for education Rolston Anglin told the Finance Committee this week that teachers are seeing an increasing number of children entering primary school with serious behavioural issues.

He told the government was looking into the possibility of outsourcing reception classes to combat the ‘very troubling signs’ of behavioural problems among children in early primary school.

Mr. Anglin said it was vital that children had a solid educational foundation before entering secondary school, adding ‘Government has to look closely at whether or not we can reintroduce the reception year.’

He said some homes were ‘naturally weaker’ so it would impact the profile of a child accepted into the government educational system. ‘The quicker we get children into a structured system of teaching and learning, the better off we are going to be and the better, I believe, the results will be at the secondary level.

He admitted it would be challenging, as the government would have to deal with space and financial implications.

‘I never dreamt that I would have ever heard of the day that that West Bay Primary would have had the necessity for a behavioural unit. Those are worrying and troubling signs,’ he said.

‘The range… and depth of problems are growing,’ he said. ‘The signs are there, the cases are there, they are not going to go away.’

Until 1992, all government primary schools had reception classes, but those were abolished because of overcrowding in the schools. Now only four primary schools have reception classes – East End and North Side, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

Most pre-schools are now in the private sector.

The former education minister Alden McLaughlin said he had also considered re-introducing reception classes in all primary schools while he was minister.

He said two major issues stood in the way of bringing back the reception classes – a lack of physical space in the school and the impact it would have on the private pre-school and kindergarten industry.

‘A significant number of Caymanians now rely on that as their source of income and have invested significant sums of money in developing their businesses,’ he said.