British educator Jonathan Clark has taken over as the principal of Grand Cayman’s John Gray High School.
Mr. Clark took up the post just over a week ago. He comes to Cayman from the Passmores Academy in Essex, a school which featured in a British “fly on the wall” television documentary about the lives of students and teachers at a typical British secondary school.
Mr. Clark was deputy head at the school, which has around 1,000 pupils and a higher than average proportion of children with special educational needs. The school was rated as “good” by the U.K.’s independent Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, known as Ofsted.
According to the Cayman Islands Ministry of Education, Mr. Clark has 22 years of teaching experience, including the last seven in a senior management position at “a school environment similar to our local schools.”
“These are exciting times in education, and the Ministry of Education looks forward to having Mr. Clark as part of the team as we continue to work to improve education throughout these islands,” the ministry said in a statement in response to inquiries from the Cayman Compass.
John Gray High School was one of several Cayman Islands schools highlighted as in need of serious improvement following inspection reports last year.
Inspectors wrote, “Behavior presents a significant challenge in too many lessons, although the reasons for poor behavior are often linked to the quality of teaching.”
The inspectors said there was room for improvement in more than half the lessons observed at John Gray and the standard of teaching in one in five lessons was deemed a “cause for concern.” The number of students achieving satisfactory exam results is improving but is still “very low” and very few students achieve top grades, the report said.
The principal’s position has been officially vacant since Lyneth Monteith stepped out of the role to take over as the government’s chief education officer in February last year.
Matthew Holmes and Jane Kelly were acting principals until Mr. Clark’s arrival last month.
The ministry said in its statement, “Mr. Clark has already expressed keen support of the ‘I am John Gray’ school identity campaign that has been student led, and is keen on continuing to promote an improved school identity and a strong student voice.”
Mr. Clark does not appear to have been personally featured in the “Educating Essex” documentary, which focused on a handful of teachers and students at the school. But the show paints a portrait of the school environment he has come from.
It depicted teachers dealing with challenges including teen pregnancy, bullying and a pupil being taken into care and was praised for showing the ups and downs of school life.
***Editor’s Note: The original Web version of this story included a photo caption that contained an incorrect spelling of the name of Principal Jonathan Clark. The error was pointed out by one of our online readers. The name was correct in the print edition of the newspaper.***