Critical Discourse On Education – A Principal’s Perspective
“We have been emitting a lot of hot air about improving outcomes in high schools for far too long. Until the powers that be quiet down on the rhetoric about funding and keeping people in school till the ripe adult age of 29 and instead focus policy decisions on affecting the following operatives, the rate of success (for students between age 6 – 18) will be sluggish if not stagnant or regressive:
1. A high school student MUST attend school punctually for at least 90% of the time, especially in grades 10 and 11.
2. A high school student MUST attend school no less than 90% of the allotted 190 school days each year.
3. A high school student MUST attain or maintain a minimum of 60% academic average.
4. Where a student fails to reach this 60% average, the system must make it mandatory that s/he is assigned two academic mentors (one student with a respectable average and a teacher who is a pro-student advocate). Such a student may also be required to attend classes after school and possibly on weekends with carefully selected teachers and or student-mentors.
5. Where a student is identified as having severe literacy and numeracy challenges, his/her subject offerings should be reduced to a minimum of 6 subjects and s/he must be required to attend pull-out sessions with literacy and numeracy coaches/specialists during Math & Language sessions
6. Pump the money (additional funding from Government) into the system to get trained and qualified LITERACY and NUMERACY SPECIALISTS to arrest the ailing/chronic and well-known problems and REQUIRE parents to continue contributing to their children’s education!. The current system of a TOKEN Math Coach who visits once per term to meet with TEACHERS is a joke!
7. Students must have multiple pathways to choose from (City and Guilds, NCTVET, CAP, CVQ, CSEC, CAPE, SAT) etc etc etc!
8. Students must MATRICULATE (not be “conveyored” to) to the next year level with a minimum of 55% average.
9. If we are serious about STEM Academies (fix numeracy!, develop the gumption to tell the “funders” we are employing NUMERACY SPECIALISTS with these monies to FIX our horrific NUMERACY problems FIRST, otherwise keep your money”. It is pointless establishing STEM Academies with a 40% pass rate, of the creamed off crop who were allowed to sit Mathematics. What is our priority here ??? (to have one or two places to boast about when the others are failing???)
10. Empower!!!! Do NOT DISRESPECT, INSULT, attempt to INTIMIDATE and PUBLICLY (or privately) humiliate foot-soldiers who are toiling in the system and getting considerable and unprecedented results
11. Create a cadre of assistant teachers in each parish (who are on called to schools whenever teachers are absent on any given day). This special group can be selected from a wide pool of high school / sixth form graduates, who have not yet transitioned to college or recent teachers’ college graduates (contributing to and propelling the mandate for job creation and economic prosperity).
12. Each grade 11 student MUST be allowed to sit a minimum of 5 external exams of his or his parent’s choice (from the examination body or bodies mentioned above).
From my own action-research, l have found, for the last 4 consecutive years, that each student with an academic average of 59% or above; and punctuality and attendance rating of 89% or above is guaranteed 5 or more CSEC subjects (the same may hold true for other exam types).
I have also found that students mentoring students is a BIG indicator for success (l have witnessed students averages doubling and tripling on an account of this)
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