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  • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has charged secondary school principals to ensure that teachers do a careful assessment of each student entering grade seven before the start of instruction.
  • This, he says, will give them a better understanding of the areas, which will require special emphasis and focus, including the need for remedial work.
  • Minister Thwaites urged the schools, not to “barrel along with the curriculum."

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has charged secondary school principals to ensure that teachers do a careful assessment of each student entering grade seven before the start of instruction.

This, he says, will give them a better understanding of the areas, which will require special emphasis and focus, including the need for remedial work.

“Please make sure that you know the strengths and weaknesses of each student and please make sure that as far as possible, you encourage your teachers to see to uplifting and remediation where this is clearly indicated. Students, who have got 60 per cent or less in any of the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) profiles, obviously need help, before they can benefit from the advanced education offered in our high schools,” he said.

Minister Thwaites, who was addressing an education symposium on August 19, at the Sts. Peter and Paul Church Hall in St. Andrew, urged the schools, not to “barrel along with the curriculum from the third or fourth week…or the second or third day of grade seven, without having undertaken a careful analysis and diagnosis of your student’s profile.”

“We are expecting that your professionalism will lead you to spend a considerable time with that entering cohort for their benefit and for the overall success of the school to note those who need help, whether it is in the core areas of English Language or in Mathematics or indeed, if they are beset with some other challenges, whether physical or social or emotional,” he stressed.

The Minister, in the meantime, commended the teachers, students, and principals for the work they did in this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination, which saw improvements in a number of subject areas.

The core subject of Mathematics recorded the largest improvement overall, moving from 42 per cent in 2013 to 56 per cent this year.

“The lesson to be learnt and the elation that we feel, particularly in the area of Mathematics, proves that if we focus on doing something about a problem and if we are generous in our approach to its remediation, it can be done. All of us can be participants in regeneration where there is a chronic difficulty,” he stated.

The Minister attributed the improved performance in Mathematics to a number of initiatives implemented by the Ministry’s National Mathematics Team, including targeted support since 2012 for 96 schools classified as being on the cusp of doing better and /or those institutions with weaknesses that needed improvement.

Other strategies included: workshops for teachers, targeting weak areas as identified in CSEC reports and subject profiles; and a revision of the CSEC Mathematics curriculum from grade seven to 11, to improve the teaching of the subject over a five-year period.

The document was developed from a pilot of six secondary schools and sponsored by the NCB Foundation.

The symposium, which was attended by scores of principals and school board chairmen, was held under the theme: ‘Changing the Education Landscape: Modernising Teaching and Learning for Relevance’.