The majority of stakeholders who attended a meeting in Road Town to discuss the additional school year seem to agree with the Education Minister’s proposal to allow advanced learners to graduate from secondary school after the 11th grade and removing CAPE at the high school level.
Others shared mixed views on the ‘additional year’ at public secondary schools.
These discussions were had on Thursday when a number of teachers, parents and education officials met with Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley and Chief Education Officer Connie George.
The minister’s proposal
In explaining his proposal at the start of Thursday’s meeting, Dr Wheatley said: “The proposal is for students who are advanced to be able to leave after 11th grade. So, instead of doing 20 credits for three years which is the case now, they’ll do 30 credits in two years and they’ll have to pass the exit proficiency exams in Mathematics and English and complete their Community Service Hours and they will be able to graduate early.”
The minister added: “So, we’ll have a two-year track and a three track and we are suggesting for the two-year track that you’ll have a GPA of 3.0 which I think is equivalent to a B average to qualify for the advanced track.”
“We are eliminating CAPE under secondary school level and we’ll move CAPE or A Levels to the H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC),” he further said.
A female teacher who said she agreed with the minister’s proposal said doing away with CAPE and moving it to HLSCC is ‘the best way forward’.
“If it remains in placed the way you are proposing is a positive one, it allows those students who are capable of moving forward leaving after two years,” she reasoned.
An Elmore Stoutt High School teacher said she also believes the proposal would improve the existing system while not entirely abandoning the extra year programme that she believes is still necessary for some students.
“What I like about the additional year as a teacher is when I was in school, the teachers recommended you to do CSEC and it was because some students didn’t have enough time to possibly get all the content and master it enough to be able to do the CSEC and do well at it. With the additional year, you are seeing that even our three-year students are passing subjects which they would not have done in two years,” the educator said.
Meanwhile, a longstanding HLSCC female teacher chimed in stating that she has witnessed students who needed and have benefited from the extra year, while she has also recognised students who never need it
Remove extra school year in a phased way
Meanwhile, a male science teacher at the Bregado Flax Educational Centre said while he is in favour for the removal of the additional year, it should be done so in a phased out process.
“If we begin immediately it means that our 10th grades and our 11th grades will be short changed because they would have been working in a limited time scope for the last 1-2 years. Now the 9th grade going into 10, we can look at having them graduate in grade 11” he argued.
He, however, believes that the slower students should not be forgotten, stating: “We still need to make a provision for an extra year for the students who are slower. So what I would say push for two years. Those who can write it in two years let them write it. But, make provisions for those who are a little bit slower that they get a third year.”
More time needed for decision
Education Minister Wheatley said considering what was said during the two meetings had on Tortola and Virgin Gorda, the one-week time period he had initially set out to make his decision by will now be extended.
“I’ll take a little bit more time … We’ll supplement the information we’ve gathered in these meetings with some statistical data from H Lavity Stoutt Community College where many of the 12th Grade students would have studied and we’ll be able to assess their performance at the secondary level, versus students who didn’t go through on the 12th additional year like schools like St Georges and Seventh-day Adventist and compare,” the minister said.
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