Local school inspectors have highlighted governance and leadership issues at St. Ignatius Catholic School in their latest report on the private school, according to the Office of Education Standards.

The school received a satisfactory grade in its latest assessment report from the OES last month. The report pointed out that there were weaknesses in governance “which did not follow the requirements of best practice, and decision-making arrangements were not fit for purpose”.

In its 53-page report, the OES said that a significant number of parents who wished to support the school felt unhappy with important aspects of St Ignatius.

“Whilst St. Ignatius Catholic School has a number of important strengths, it also has fundamental weaknesses in leadership and governance. The Parish Administrator and senior staff are aware of the aspects of the work of the school requiring improvement and they understand what is necessary to address them,” the report stated.

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The Cayman Compass last year reported on a number of issues that were raised by parents, including the sudden resignation of principal Emily Alexander and the abolition of the School Advisory Board, which had since been replaced by a School Advisory Committee.

Parents launched an online petition calling for more transparency at the school. A notice of non-compliance from the non-profit organisations’ registrar was issued to St. Ignatius Catholic School and church on 17 Sept. over the failure to submit financials as required under the law. The school and church are registered as one entity.

Leadership issues identified

The OES report noted staff were “also unhappy and the lack of effective governance was destabilising the school’s operation and continuing effectiveness”.

“The current concerns about aspects of school governance and leadership, as expressed in the survey and in person by relatively large numbers of stakeholders, had distressed those on all sides of the conflict and were beginning to impact [the] well-being [of] the school. School governance had recently changed with the school advisory board having been dissolved and replaced by a committee with limited decision-making powers,” it said.

The report said there were no opportunities for parents to elect representatives to the school advisory committee and seats were not appropriately representative.

The school also experienced a number of staff changes over the past year.

“The high turnover of staff risked compromising the maintenance of high-quality teaching and learning,” it stated.

The report said that there were many aspects of educational provision that were judged to be good. The school gave students a rich, broad, and effective educational experience in an ethos of strong Catholic beliefs and Christian values, according to the report.

“Students achieved well, due to dedicated and effective teaching staff who developed motivating lessons and used effective teaching strategies. Students were eager to learn, co-operative and thoughtful towards others. They were proud of the heritage and uniqueness of Cayman and keen to take part in all activities offered and to support the community and the wider world,” the report said.

Schooling over COVID-19 period 

The school’s performance during the COVID-19 lockdown received positive feedback, the report said, as parents found the use of the application ‘e-praise’ very effective in keeping them informed about how well their children were doing.

“They felt that communication was particularly strong during the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There were very good opportunities provided for parents to participate in several school activities, including sports and drama. Links with the school and the wider community were strong,” it said.

A follow-through inspection will be conducted at the school in six months.

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