Two of Cayman’s private schools have been found lacking in their educational offerings in new reports from the Office of Education Standards.
Both Triple C School and Wesleyan Christian Academy were rated “weak”, the lowest designation on a four-tier scale. Both will be re-inspected within six months.
Triple C report
While Triple C School’s middle school and high school programmes were deemed largely satisfactory, evaluators found a significant hole in the school’s elementary grades. Student attainment and progress was rated weak in all subject areas in the elementary grades. Teaching was also judged to be weak in that area.
“The quality of teaching was satisfactory in early years, middle and high school but weak in elementary,” the report said. “The highest proportion of good teaching in the school was noted in non-core subjects, particularly, in music, physical education and elementary art lessons.”
Triple C Principal Mable Richardson said she did not want to comment extensively on the report.
“I disagree, of course,” she said of the findings, but indicated the school would comply with the recommendations.
The school’s weakest performance was in teaching mathematics, with attainment being weak in early years, elementary and middle school grades.
“Only a minority of middle phase students could add and subtract negative numbers without a number line or apply the order of operations rules correctly,” the report noted.
In addition, the inspectors faulted the school for the following:
- Not challenging students’ critical thinking, with “most teachers [using] questioning that only required factual answers”;
- Failing to provide opportunities for advanced students who “often sat and waited for more work or played games in lessons because their teachers had not planned activities that sufficiently challenged them”;
- Weak leadership; and
- Failure to correct known problems as “most areas for improvement identified in an external accreditation report from 2014 had not yet been addressed”.
The report also found immediate safety problems, citing the school for not having properly stored chemicals in its science lab, saying it required “urgent attention”. There was also no approved current environmental health report for the school.
The evaluators praised the school for its “strong Christian ethos” and for having good ties to the community.
Wesleyan Christian Academy report
Similar comments were made about Wesleyan Christian Academy. That report said the school’s environment promoted learning because “Christian values of care, compassion, respect and tolerance are demonstrated by almost all students daily.”
But the Wesleyan report also found systemic problems in student achievement and teaching quality, especially in the upper grades and particularly in the area of science.
“There were serious weaknesses in the school’s curriculum,” the report said. “It was too narrow and the weak resources and sequencing of science and non-core subjects led to weak progress in those areas.
The school’s own assessment data and external Stanford 10 SAT results corroborates that attainment and progress are weak in the high school.”
In particular, the inspectors said, the curriculum offered “limited coverage of appropriate topics in science, social studies, information technology, music and physical education or opportunities for writing for different purposes”.
Principal Daphne Ellis, who is in her second year heading the school, said she thought the report was “unbalanced” and failed to recognise the strengths of the school’s individualised curriculum.
The report found that “students were not well prepared in the skills needed for college or career success”, but Ellis argued that was not the case, saying that two of this year’s graduates are headed to overseas colleges on scholarships. She did not recall the names of the colleges.
She pointed out the school came in third place in last year’s Brain Bowl Academic Tournament and had two finalists in an essay competition sponsored by Rotary.
The report cited Ellis’s “satisfactory” leadership as a strength of the school, saying it “has led to significant improvements in the quality of education in the kindergarten since the previous inspection”.
“I’m aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the school and staff,” Ellis said.
While she does not plan to replace the current curriculum, she said changes are always being made.
“There are things that are being done in addition to the curriculum that are in place,” she said. “We will continue to build.”