School twinning tweaked as student transfers put on hold
The Ministry of Education has agreed to put on hold student transfers for the twinning of high schools, an initiative geared at the sharing of best practices to improve learning outcomes.
Acting Chief Education Officer Dr Kasan Troupe said that the programme is ongoing despite the dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic over the last two years.
In September 2019, fifty-two high schools were participating in the programme.
Troupe said the programme was tweaked in response to feedback from principals.
“They are struggling with the student-transfer component, and they have asked us to just hold back that for now and let them deal with the collaborative aspect of it. The programme allows for principals to work together, share resources, to train together, and to support their students together,” Troupe said during a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Wednesday.
Among the participating high schools are Kingston College, Tivoli Gardens, Charlie Smith, Ardenne, and Pembroke Hall.
Principal of Pembroke Hall High, Claude Ellis, said both staff and students have benefited from the partnership with Ardenne High.
He told The Gleaner that when schools were shuttered in March 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19, Ardenne developed a robust online programme.
“We went to Ardenne and gained some of the insight from them, and they helped us with some of our own set-up here. Both systems administrators met to work out a better solution for some of the problems,” he said.
Ellis said the initiative has also allowed for the sharing of physical resources.
Pembroke Hall does not have an abattoir, a key facility for agricultural science students who rear chickens as part of the curriculum.
“Ardenne has one, and they allow us to come by and use the abattoir to slaughter our chickens, so all we have to do is provide the transportation for our students,” the principal said.
Similarly, principal of Kingston College, Dave Myrie, told The Gleaner that his school has partnered with Charlie Smith and Tivoli Gardens on the teaching of mathematics.
Myrie said 15 students from each school were engaged in classes at the institution, twice per week, and they also liaised with the department at both schools to strengthen teacher development.
He said it was not fully practical to continue the programme when classes were moved online, but the principals met recently to discuss getting back on track.
“We will be having classes again, both online and face-to-face. Since schools have resumed fully, most classes will be in-person. We are also planning for an integration of the two schools in our exam marathons that we host in the Easter term,” Myrie said.
Going forward, Myrie said student-leadership development and English are likely to be part of the focus areas under the initiative.
The acting chief education officer reiterated that the programme would continue to be part of the ministry’s operational plan.
“It is school-led, and our principals will sit with each other and decide what component of this programme they want to pull on to support each other as we grow our schools,” Troupe said.