Sir John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay.

The Office of Education Standards said Sir John A. Cumber Primary School has made significant progress in improving its weak performance, but still has a long way to go.

In a newly published report, the West Bay school was judged satisfactory in 13 of 16 previously identified areas of weakness.

“In some ways, there have been some very important improvements,” said Peter Carpenter, head of the standards office. “But it’s not where we want it to be.”

The weak rating on just three of the 16 areas inspectors were evaluating is a substantial improvement from previous reports. In February, inspectors rated the school weak on eight of the 16 areas. In a May 2018 report, nine of the areas were judged as weak.

Carpenter said better student behaviour and classroom management have made a big difference. There has also been a leadership change at John A. Cumber since the previous inspection. New principal Jovanna Wright did not respond to a request for comment.
The report noted progress in a number of areas.

- Advertisement -

“There had been a notable improvement in the quality of teaching since the previous inspection,” the report said. “In particular, there were more examples of good and satisfactory lessons and the number of lessons judged as weak had reduced. Overall, most lessons in this inspection were found to be satisfactory or better. A significant factor in the improved quality of teaching was that teachers managed students’ behaviour more effectively and with greater consistency.”

The report added, “There were more examples of lessons in which students were encouraged to find out information for themselves, and there were also sessions in which the students demonstrated autonomy and responsibility for their own learning.”

On the downside, inspectors said there were still a number of lessons they observed where teachers “talked for too long and there was insufficient time for the students to practise the skills taught”.

The three areas where the school was found to be weak were in:
• Identifying learning goals for the year and taking “speedy action if students are falling behind”;
• Developing a standard system for marking students’ work “to ensure that students learn from their mistakes and are guided in improving their work”; and
• Providing more opportunities for “writing at greater length in English” and in a context of inquiry.

Carpenter said student performance also remains a problem.

“Their exam results are still really poor, in fact, probably the worst of any school in the system,” he said. Only one-quarter of students achieved the expected level in mathematics.”

An example of the level at which students are working is contained in the report.

“By Year 2, students were able to identify numbers to 100 and complete simple addition of one-digit numbers,” the report said. “Attainment in mathematical calculation in early years and Key Stage 1 classes was well below expected levels and teachers were working intensively with classes to address gaps in knowledge. By the end of Key Stage 2, students could add and subtract and round up and down using large numbers.”

Carpenter said he’s hopeful further gains will be made.

“The teaching’s getting better, so that will improve,” he said of the students’ performance. “But it will take time.”

The full report can be found at

- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now