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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Schools benefiting under the Jamaica National (JN) Foundation’s iLead educational leadership programme, are seeing vast improvement in administration and student performance.
  • School Improvement Coach for the iLead Programme, and former principal of the Ardenne High School, Esther Tyson, is tasked with the responsibility of going into the schools to help the principals and vice-principals build their leadership capacity.
  • Ms. Tyson said she is proud of the successes, to date, under the programme.

Schools benefiting under the Jamaica National (JN) Foundation’s iLead educational leadership programme, are seeing vast improvement in administration and student performance.

Principals, vice-principals and heads of departments at 10 secondary and primary schools in three parishes are benefiting from leadership training and management support under the initiative, which started in 2014.

The institutions are Happy Grove High, Buff Bay Primary and Windsor Castle Primary in Portland; St. Thomas Technical and Robert Lightbourne High in St. Thomas; and Horace Clarke High, Brimmer Vale High, Port Maria Primary, Martin Primary, and Retreat Primary and Junior High in St. Mary.

They were selected for intervention based on the findings coming out of a National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report, which showed that they were performing unsatisfactorily and in need of support.

Director of Education Programmes at the JN Foundation, Dr. Renée Rattray, who addressed a recent JIS Think Tank, said that iLead works to build capacity of school administrators in order to facilitate change in the culture of these schools.

“Our focus is on leadership.  We provide training, coaching, and conduct workshops for the leaders,” she pointed out.

School Improvement Coach for the iLead Programme, and former principal of the Ardenne High School, Esther Tyson, is tasked with the responsibility of going into the schools to help the principals and vice-principals build their leadership capacity.

“The principals undergo training through a programme called Principals as Chief Executive Officers and I have seen the benefits of this approach,” Mrs. Tyson said.

She explained that the principals are taken through a process of understanding how to run the school as a business and the setting of targets.

She told JIS News that when she goes into a school she examines the systems and processes that exist and along with the leadership, tries to identify the gaps and come up with the best systems and processes to make improvements.

Ms. Tyson said she is proud of the successes, to date, under the programme.

She noted, for example, that Brimmer Vale High has been transformed. “When we went there in 2011 as a result of the NEI findings, the school that I am seeing now is a totally different institution.

“There are processes and systems and the middle leaders feel like they own the school. There is a better relationship with the community that surrounds the school and there is a sense of pride.  The school wants to be the best in St. Mary, thanks to the principal, Evorine Henry-Tracey,” she said.

She noted that at Buff Bay Primary “the principal and the middle leaders have bought into the vision of the school and they are making waves.  Now the students are doing well with over 50 per cent of the students who sat the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) getting their first choice into traditional schools.  They were unsatisfactory in terms of the NEI report and now they are satisfactory”.

At Port Maria Primary, 50 of the 99 students who took GSAT got their first choice, and more than 12 of them received over 90 per cent average.