Today, our students returned to school after the Christmas break to find the Bermuda Union of Teachers, The Principals, The Department of Education and the Ministry of Education united in one goal; providing our children with a quality education. To improve communications between stakeholders it has been agreed to have monthly meetings between the Department of Education and the BUT. Additionally, the Ministry of Education will have monthly public briefings to provide updates to the public. Today I am pleased to be here with the Commissioner of Education for the first public briefing of 2019
The cross-section of stakeholders who provided input for the development of Plan 2022 made it clear that they want students who are “well-prepared for postsecondary success” and that the professionals charged with preparing them for this level of success must be “well-trained and publicly accountable.” Improvement in outcomes requires a commitment to ongoing system and schools improvement; quality teaching; reliable grading practices; quality support services; and ongoing training.
Term 1 of the 2018-2019 year began with the aligning of system priorities with the strategies for Bermuda’s Plan 2022 for Education. These are areas which were identified with the input and engagement of Senior Leaders, School Principals and Education Officers, focused on what was needed to bring about a shift in teaching practices, learning experiences and improved results. They are:
- Ensuring curriculum implementation for all subjects;
- implementing standards-based grading;
- providing multi-tiered systems of support for students;
- the facilitation of ongoing professional development;
- continuing with the development of policies to support these priorities;
- And improving responsiveness.
Work in support of these priority areas commenced during Term 1, and over the next six months, the Department of Education will focus its efforts on quality instruction and quality services. We will also provide ongoing professional development and continue to develop policies to support these priority areas.
Plan 2022 Priority #1 focuses on adaptive strategies which will increase academic rigour and student engagement. The implementation of Standards-Based Grading is one of the Plan 2022’s adaptive strategies that will benefit students by informing students and their parents a more accurate account of their performance. We know that quality instruction and fair and reliable grading practices will enable us to transform public education. This will enable us to improve student outcomes and achieve our mission of preparing students to compete and contribute locally and globally.
Yesterday, all primary and middle-level school staff, along with School Principals, Department of Education Leaders and Education Officers participated in training for Standards-Based Education. The purpose of the training was three-fold:
- To reset the SBG training to ensure a common understanding of standards-based education was embedded;
- To share information on the way forward, and
- To communicate the type of support that will be provided as we transition the system to Standards-Based Education.
This training was coordinated and led by a Steering Committee of dedicated teachers and leaders. This Committee, which was formed in early October 2018, consists of teachers, principals and education officers, who have taken the lead with recharting the course for the implementation of Standards-Based Education, with the support of the Ministry and Department of Education. Also, a team of Standards-Based Grading Champions made up of BUT member teachers were also identified in early October 2018 and assigned to support their respective schools.
The Ministry, Board and Department of Education, pledge our support for the ongoing training and development of Department of Education leaders, school leaders and teachers and I take this opportunity to thank the Standards-Based Grading Steering Committee for working untiringly to prepare for and conduct the training held yesterday. I also thank the Committee for developing the plan which re-charts our course for becoming a Standards-Based Education system. Information about the plan will be shared with the community later this month.
Starting this week, the Commissioner of Education will engage Department of Education Officers, Principals and BUT representatives in determining revisions to the rollout of grades and report cards for the period January to June 2018. Once an agreement has been reached, we will communicate the outcome to parents and the community.
The Ministry and Department of Education Team who have engaged with Principals and the BUT Representatives in ongoing meetings over the past two months remain committed to listening and working on resolutions.
In all that we do for education and with each decision that we make, we will focus on children and on ensuring that they have the knowledge, skills and competencies for a successful future.