High school students get more options

A qualifications framework is being
introduced to Cayman’s high schools to help ensure all students succeed.

“Our education system is very confusing
right now,” said Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler.

“We expect employers and students
to understand it, so that is why we are setting up a National Qualifications Framework.

“We don’t want to turn out young
people who can’t cope,” said Mrs. Wahler. “All the way through kids need
support for their careers, they need guidance and help making the most of their
strengths.”

Department of Education Head of
Curriculum Services Clive Baker said one major change at the upper levels will
be a two-year route to exams over Years 10 and 11, a period called Key Stage 4.

“This is in line with everywhere
else in the Caribbean/UK system of education,” he said.

He said Cayman did offer a three-year
route to the same exams. The extra year was added in the early 90s on the
assumption that extra time should yield higher results.

“Results have not improved over
that time period; in fact they fell, and independent inspection reports have
indicated that the extra year at Year 10 was not working for our students,” said
Mr. Baker.

 Mrs. Wahler said students still attend six
years of secondary school, but they now do their CXC exams at the end of Year
11, just like students everywhere else in the British and Caribbean world.

“Then, they spend their time in
Year 12 either doing advanced academic study, which will give them lots of
credit if they do a degree in the US, or they can choose that brand new set of
vocational programmes, which will also include work experience and, even more
important, work readiness skills,” she said.

“Students experience panic in Year
12 when they suddenly realise they need to make a decision about what they are
going to do for the rest of their lives. It’s like we lead them to the edge of
a cliff and say OK now fly,” said Mrs. Wahler. “You won’t know how to do that
unless you are given a lot of guidance. And as parents we do what we can but
sometimes we need the help of experts who can assess students.”

Mrs. Wahler said that along with
other options, there are opportunities for all students to engage in effective
preparation for the next stage of their lives.

She said the objective for the
restructuring is to provide students with more choices and second chances – as
well as a clear set of qualification options.

National Qualifications Framework

Students wishing to pursue the AP
Programme, which can be used to achieve full IB Diploma status, must have at
least 5 high-grade passes, including English and Maths, at A*-B or I-II grades.

“This is a straightforwardly
academic stream, aimed at the top academic students within our schools,” said
Mrs. Wahler.

The Foundation Programme provides second
chances for students to re-sit exams based on their grades in Year 11. For example,
they may re-sit exams on which they earned D or IV grades.

Students may also take new
subjects, based on individual counselling, and applicants will usually need to have
shown success in some Level 2 subjects.

Students will be able to study English,
mathematics, electronic document processing and management, science and social
studies.

“In addition, there will also be
access to basic literacy and numeracy programmes, and foundation courses may be
combined with vocational programmes,” said Mrs. Wahler.”

The Further Education Programme is
offered at two levels.

Level 2 Vocational, Career and
Technical education programmes are aimed at students who have at least 3 or 4
Level 1 passes, at grades D/IV or below.

The options will include BTEC First
Diploma schemes that are equal to two to four GCSE passes.

It will also include a work
experience component for at least one day per week. Subjects include applied science,
business, hospitality, creative media production, health and social care, IT, public
services, sport and motor vehicle.

Level 1 VoCaT Basic Technical
Skills Programmes are planned for students who have had limited academic success, and will focus on ensuring basic literacy,
numeracy, and ICT skills.

They will include BTEC introductory
schemes and a strong work experience component.

Topics for study will include business,
retail and administration, construction, health and social care, hospitality, travel
and tourism, IT at work, sport and leisure, motor vehicle.

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