The last inspection of 10 Cayman Islands government primary schools has been completed. The Office of Education Standards published its report on Cayman Brac’s West End Primary School on Thursday.
The inspections were follow-ups to a series of inspections conducted during 2014-2015. Officials found that West End Primary had made good progress on the recommendations listed in the previous inspection. Those recommendations covered such areas as improving math scores, raising teachers’ expectations for student performance and more effective use of students’ performance data.
Of the seven recommendations surveyors analyzed, they said West End Primary had made good progress on five of them and satisfactory progress on the other two.
West End Primary actually bucked one of the common trends seen at many of the other Cayman schools.
Peter Carpenter, director of the standards office, said most schools struggle to show improvement for students in Years 4-6.
“When we look at the Year 6 students,” Mr. Carpenter said, “we’re not seeing any significant improvement [at most schools].”
West End Primary, however, was assessed as having Year 6 students who were performing well.
“Standards of achievement in Year 6,” the report said, “were good. In reading, for example, all students were on track to achieve at the expected level or above by the end of the academic year. Around half were achieving above the expected level. In mathematics, similarly, most students were achieving at or above the expected standard for the end of Year 6.”
A survey of 28 parents found that 89 percent felt their students were getting a quality education at West End Primary. A similar survey of staff and faculty found 100 percent believed the school is providing a quality education.
Mr. Carpenter said a final report summarizing the overall findings of all 10 surveys is being prepared and is expected to be released to the public in July.
“I think we have a very good assessment of the primary school government program,” he said. “We’ve observed over 300 [classroom] lessons. I don’t think anybody has a better insight into the teaching quality.”
That quality, he said, has improved since the 2014-2015 inspections.
“Initially, all the [earlier] reports found most of the teaching was unsatisfactory,” Mr. Carpenter said. “We’re saying about 85 percent were satisfactory or better.”
Part of that improvement may be due to leadership changes. Eight of the 10 principals in the original inspections were rated as unsatisfactory.
“We’re not seeing that now,” Mr. Carpenter said. “The Ministry of Education has developed a more strategic approach to leadership in the schools.”
A new series of inspections will begin in the fall. They will include surveys of the islands’ private schools and the government high schools, in addition to the government primary schools. Mr. Carpenter said the inspections will be more wide ranging than those just completed, which were focused primarily on English and math performance and school leadership. This time, inspectors will also look at such things as curriculum in the sciences and other areas, student behavior and social skills, and overall preparedness.
“How well qualified are these students when they come out of Year 11?” Mr. Carpenter said.