Report: ‘Weak’ rating for Savannah Primary

Inspection reports on Prospect and Savannah primary schools have been released in recent days. Prospect Primary was found to be making satisfactory progress, but Savannah Primary was assessed as weak in almost every metric.

In a November 2017 inspection, Savannah was given a satisfactory rating. Peter Carpenter, director of the Office of Education Standards, which conducts the surveys, said the lower rating for Savannah may not necessarily mean the quality of education at the school has dropped in the past year and a half.

In 2017, he said, inspectors looked only at how the school had addressed recommendations from the previous round of inspections during the 2014-2015 school year. Savannah, he said, had only a short list of recommendations from the resulting report.

“We had quite a narrow focus,” Mr. Carpenter said of his team’s earlier visit to the school. “On this full inspection, we’re looking at a greater depth and breadth. The closer we looked, and in more detail, we found a greater number of areas needing improvement.”

A phone message left with a school receptionist requesting comment from the Savannah Primary School’s principal, Carol Nyack, was not returned.

The report found poor performance in teaching, assessment and leadership.

“Teaching was weak,” inspectors reported. “There was too much inconsistency in the quality of teaching across the school. More than a quarter of the lessons observed during the inspection were judged to be weak. The pace of lessons was often slow, with students spending too much time waiting and tasks taking much longer than students needed to complete them.”

Students are underperforming in all subject areas, the report said.

It criticized school leadership, saying, “inspectors observed notable gaps in the overall management of the school which impacted on standards of achievement. These gaps were in the areas of instructional leadership and curriculum planning.”

Interestingly, when faculty and support staff were surveyed, they rated the quality of leadership at the school better than they did in the last report. In 2017, 33 percent disagreed that the school was well led. In this report, that figure dropped to 12 percent.

“I think teachers and support staff appreciate the work of the leadership,” Mr. Carpenter said. “Trying to evaluate the effectiveness of that is a different thing. We are saying that teaching is weak and children aren’t making enough progress. There has to be an accountability.”

Teachers and support staff rated the overall performance of the school lower in this report than in the previous one. Just 78 percent said they agreed the school was providing a good quality education, compared to 94 percent in the last report. Conversely, 13 percent said it was not doing a good job, compared to 6 percent in the earlier survey. The remaining 9 percent in the current survey were unsure.

Satisfaction changed in the survey done with parents of students at the school. The new report found 68 percent felt the school was doing a good job, compared with 77 percent in the previous report.

Inspectors found the school was doing a good job in promoting a safe and healthy environment and promoting civic and environmental awareness.

At Prospect Primary, inspectors found students were well behaved, educated in Cayman culture and benefiting from a broad curriculum. Principal Matthew Read was singled out for being “passionate about improving students’ education,” raising the morale of staff and winning the confidence of students and parents.

More work is needed, the report said, in bringing student academic performance up to international standards. The school was assessed as either satisfactory or good in all areas inspectors looked at.

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