Preschool gets first ‘excellent’ mark from inspectors

    Students at Little Trotters Farm and Nursery School get to interact with the school's farm animals as part of the curriculum.

    In reports on four Cayman preschools released Monday, the Office of Education Standards found three of the schools to be satisfactory while one was deemed excellent. All four inspections were conducted in January.

    Little Trotters Farm and Nursery School is the first school to receive an excellent assessment since the education agency began inspecting schools last year. Little Trotters was used as the parental engagement model for last year’s Caribbean Early Childhood Development Good Practice Guide published by UNICEF.

    The report found the preschool was good or excellent in nearly every assessment category. Only weaknesses in sharing learning assessments and in mathematics achievement were noted.

    “We were delighted, thrilled,” Principal Josie Hoar said of the report.

    Ms. Hoar said the school’s success comes from a solid foundation.

    “We are emphatically child centered in every decision we’ve made, and there’s mountains and mountains of love here,” she said. “I think if there’s one thing that’s central to my school, it’s just loving the children.”

    The inspection report recognized this, as well as the creativity of the curriculum. It cited one lesson in which students pretend they are a piece of food as they make their way through the digestive system, starting with climbing through a tunnel representing the mouth and ending by exiting down a slide.

    The school also incorporates a working garden and various livestock into its learning.

    “We have a very nature-based curriculum,” Ms. Hoar said. “We have a tried-and-tested curriculum. By the oldest class, we are more likely to teach [about] Vincent Van Gogh, Mozart and the internal organs.”

    The report echoed that, saying, “Teaching staff made the most of every moment of the day to pack in treasured memories for the children.”

    Creek and Spot Bay Primary School, St. George’s Preschool and Just for Kids Pre-School and Day Care all received satisfactory ratings by inspectors.

    The Creek and Spot Bay inspection followed an assessment in May 2018, which also found the school performance was satisfactory. In this inspection, the Cayman Brac school was found to be either good or satisfactory in all assessment categories.

    Inspectors praised it for the positive attitudes and behaviors of the children as well as “the effective support provided to students with a range of special educational needs.”

    The report said the school needed to work on the consistency and quality of teaching, improve its curriculum and provide better evaluation of academic learning to improve outcomes.

    St. George’s in George Town was found to have weak performance in some categories of learning, including mathematics and student literacy, as well as student assessment.

    It was praised for its nurturing and safe environment and for “the children’s achievement in developing a sense of value and appreciation of themselves, others and the world around them.”

    At Just for Kids in Prospect, the curriculum for science and creative expression was rated as weak, along with self-evaluation by administrators. The school was praised for its religious and cultural lessons and for student motor development. Inspectors also said “the inclusive nature of the preschool offered all children, including those with special educational needs, a caring and nurturing environment.”

    Full copies of the reports can be found at www.oes.gov.ky.