High school numbers down

TOPHighschoolnumbersLEAD

The number of students enrolled at
Grand Cayman’s two government high schools this fall appears to be lower than expected.

In February, the Compass reported that
2,121 students were attending the two government high schools in the 2009/2010
school year, with 1,109 students in years 7 through 9 at the four George Hicks
academies, and 1,012 students in years 10 and up at John Gray.

At the time, Education Ministry
Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said total student numbers at government high
schools were expected to reach 2,139 in September 2010.

However, Ministry of Education
Senior Policy Advisor Clive Baker said as of 25 August, enrolment numbers at
the two Grand Cayman government high schools stood at 1,924, with 1153 students
enrolled at John Gray and 771 students enrolled at Clifton Hunter. These
figures had dropped since August 20 preliminary figures of 1180 and 838,
respectively.

That may actually be good news in a
way, as the restructured John Gray can only accommodate up to 1,200 students
and the new Clifton Hunter school at Frank Sound will be able to accommodate up
to 900 students.

These capacities were actually
revised upwards from original projections where John Gray was slated to
accommodate only 1,000 students and the capacity of Clifton Hunter was set at
750. These numbers were based on the size of the academies within each high
school, each set to hold 250 students from Years 7 to 11.

A new school dynamic

When the move to all-through high
schools was announced in 2009, Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler said the
idea was to remove the disruption in education students experience when
changing schools from middle school to high school – a shift that occurs at a
sensitive age and just as students are preparing for their critical examination
years.

Students attending classes on each
of the newly reorganised high school campuses will still be divided into
smaller, separate academies holding students from Years 7 to 11; only now they
will hold up to 300 students each.

This arrangement will still provide
a much more intimate setting for students than before.

At government schools teacher
orientation held last week at Mary Miller Hall, Ms Wahler emphasised the
smaller groups will translate among other things into better teacher-student
relationships.

Almost all Year 7 to 9 classes will
be conducted in the academy group, allowing younger students to experience the
security of a smaller setting within the larger school. As students move into
Years 10 and 11, they will have more opportunities for joining classes
alongside students from other academies across the whole school, particularly
in option subjects.

Due to construction delays students
will attend classes for at least one more year at the existing George Hicks and
John Gray campuses in central George Town.

Mr. Baker explained that three of
the former George Hicks campus middle schools, New Horizons, Leading Edge and
Heritage, will house the three academies that make up the new Clifton Hunter
High School.

The former Pace High School will
house the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre for the new Year 12
Programme. There are an additional 339 students slated to enter the compulsory
programme, but many of them will not be attending classes at George Hicks.
Among the many options available, students may be enrolled at an A level
programme at one of the Island’s private schools, attending UCCI in pursuit of
an associate’s degree or undertaking vocational training.

Spreading out

The Caymanian Compass reported in
October 2009 that Education Minister Rolston Anglin was concerned an increasing
overall population and increasing numbers of students transferring from private
schools might strain the capacities of the two new schools.

However, it seems the opposite is
happening.

Triple C School announced it is
opening up new sections of Grades 6 and 8, the equivalents of Years 7 and 9 in
the government system.

A press release from the school
cites demand for more Grade 6 spots rose because some students leaving Year 6
in their district schools were not comfortable going into what it termed “the
huge ‘city’ high school”. In the case of the Grade 8 class, the reasoning was
given that Year 8 students were unsure how the demise of the middle school will
affect them.

Preliminary numbers from Cayman
Prep and High School show about 450 students registered to attend the Primary
school and about 330 students in the high school, which is about the same as
last year.

First Baptist reported a slight
increase in its K-6 cohort, with 81 students registered last week over about 75
last year.

Preliminary number from St.
Ignatius had about 650 students expected this year, up from 620 last year,
attributable in part to growth in the Sixth Form from students pursuing their A
levels.

Cayman International school also
continues to grow, with approximately 400 students attending this year, up from
about 370 last year. As a new school, numbers are weighted toward the younger
years, but this year’s Grade 12 graduating class holds 13 students, up from
five last year.

TOPHighschoolnumbersSTORY

Students at John Gray High School.
Photo: Brent Fuller
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Are parents concerned with the population of the schools or the politicization of education? It seems to me that we, as a country, are beginning to see education as the valuable necessity it is. Basia it would be interesting to see the demographic makeup of the transferring students. Parents Caymanian, college graduates, student GPA, etc, this information is vital to the Ministry of education in determining its strategic plans, more importantly, the perceptions generated by the story. Peer learning is a very powerful part of a students’ academic development. Thanks for the story!

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  2. The big question? Why are parents transferring their children to the private schools when millions are being spent on reforming the public education system?

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  3. It does seem crazy that Children are being Transferred to St Ignatius and Triple C but these are both excellent schools and deserve the extra Children that have joined this year. It’s no Surprise that Cayman Prep has remained the same.
    Triple C and St Ig deserve some serious credit for offering high levels of eduction and support.
    The New head at Triple C along with rest of the staff are excellent and deserve a mention!!
    The Education department needs a kick up the rear end and needs to start getting more involved with what goes on in the private schools!

    Editor’s note: This comment had to be edited for legal reasons. We ask readers not to make defamatory comments about individuals on these posts.

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