Education officials defend public schools inspection reports

Education officials have defended their decision to bring in a British inspection team to assess standards in Cayman’s schools. 

Education Minister Tara Rivers said last week that inspection reports on government schools showed students were lagging behind international standards. 

She said that while improvements had been made, the reports suggested standards were “simply not good enough” for the long term and student attainment was at least a year behind U.K. norms in English, mathematics and science. 

The release of those initial findings appears to have sparked a backlash, and the Ministry of Education released a statement this week defending the selection of the U.K.-based Independent Schools Inspectorate Consultancy to carry out the review. 

The ministry also sought to rebut suggestions that government schools had been judged too harshly. The statement indicated that the inspectors had been briefed on Cayman’s school system and had guidance from lead local inspector Mary Bowerman. 

It stated, “Government schools in the Cayman Islands provide an education based on the British model, and as relatively few jurisdictions have school inspections as such, it was natural to seek inspectors from the U.K.” 

It continued, “Judgments were made after taking into consideration a range of evidence from direct observations, interviews with staff and students, questionnaires completed by staff and parents, scrutiny of documents provided by the school, including students’ written work and performance assessment data.” 

The ministry said it had been common practice to use British inspectors to supplement local inspection teams. It said the consultants had been chosen because they had the experience and the capacity to carry out the baseline inspections of all schools in the time frame required. 

“The Lead Local Inspector took part in all fifteen inspections, providing a local perspective, continuity and quality assurance that all judgments and evidence matched,” the statement added. 

The inspection reports will be publicly released later this month once they have been presented to schools. All schools have been assigned “Senior School Improvement Officers” and will be expected to produce an action plan to address the issues highlighted. 

“The aim of all concerned should be to determine what needs to be done to raise standards of achievement. Good leadership and management will motivate staff to rise to the challenge of providing more effectively for the needs of all our students,” the ministry said in its statement. 

To see the full ministry statement on the inspection reports, visit 

Ms. Rivers
Ms. Rivers