Updated curriculum launched for Cayman’s primary schools

Education Minister Juliana O'Connor-Connolly addresses Cayman's teachers at the annual educators' welcome. - Photo: Submitted

A new curriculum with a greater focus on science and technology is being introduced in Cayman’s primary schools this year.

The changes are modelled on England’s new national curriculum introduced in 2014. A local ‘implementation team’ has worked for the last several years to adapt that document for Cayman’s students.

The curriculum includes a localised ‘social studies’ programme with a focus on Caymanian culture, history and citizenship.

Details were unveiled at the annual educator’s welcome for the entire teaching body of the Cayman Islands held at John Gray High School on Monday.

With the exception of government’s own television channel, media were not invited to the event, but a press release was issued Thursday by public relations firm Massive Media.

According to the release, Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said at the event that government had spent around $1 million on tools associated with implementing the new curriculum, including “power maths”, a learning tool for teachers that aims to make maths fun.

She is quoted as saying, “We have also conducted additional training for all our teachers. We are truly excited about the implementation of the new curriculum for the upcoming school year.”

The minister said there had also been investment in resources, including computers for teachers and more textbooks. She said she was also working to secure funding for science coaches in primary schools.

Tammy Hopkins, acting director in the Department of Education Services, described the drafting of the new curriculum as an “intense journey” that had involved extensive collaboration between officials and teachers. She said it had been derived from the English schools curriculum.

“We reviewed the English National Curriculum for suitability for the Cayman Islands to include local elements, alignment, additions or amendments,” she said.

Hopkins also welcomed 80 new teachers to the public school system at the event, attended by some 700 local educators.

The press release includes few specifics, but indicates that the new curriculum has a “forward-thinking STEM and computer science focus, as well as an enhanced, localized social studies curriculum”.

It adds that the new curriculum includes English, mathematics, science, art and design, computing, design and technology, Spanish, life skills, music, physical education and religious education.

Changes in England

The 2014 changes to the curriculum for English schools, on which the Cayman document is based, were presented with an aim to intensify the focus on core subjects such as English, maths and science.

According to a BBC report at the time, “The government says the new curriculum does not tell teachers how to teach, but concentrates on the essential knowledge and skills every child should have, so that teachers have the freedom to shape the curriculum to their pupils’ needs.”

According to the BBC, the curriculum includes more ambitious learning targets in maths, including, for example, the specific goal that all children should know their 12 times table by age 9.

The new UK computing curriculum also requires pupils to learn how to write code.

It’s not clear at this point if those targets were carried over to the Cayman curriculum.