EDUCATION BOARD MEETING: TUESDAY, 06 DECEMBER 2005
Compiled by J. Brock (FINN)
A meeting of the Education Board took place at Stanley Cottage at 0830hrs on Tuesday, 06 December 2005. Present were Cllr. Richard Stevens (Chair) Cllr. Janet Robertson, Mrs. Sylvia Cole, Director of Education, Mrs. Natalie Smith and Dr. Barry Elsby. Mrs Denise Simpkins took the minutes.
After apologies for absence the confirmation of the minutes of the meeting held on 07 October 2005 was signed and matters arising from those minutes were discussed.
A Task Group paper being worked on since May was to go to EXCO on 15 December so that items about higher education can be brought to elected Councillors attention for comment. After the EXCO meeting, the group will re-convene and take the comments forward with regard to the increased cost and higher eligibility standards for higher education.
Sylvia Cole recommended that a Shackleton Fund Scholar be brought to the Falklands to have a look at rare old books with a view to restoring them. This was necessary because Jane Cameron, the Archivist, did not have the time. Sending the books abroad to thave this done was discussed and thought not to be feasible because we need advice about which ones to send. The books with tissue paper between pages were a worry as they were beginning to stick together. Jane Cameron could advise.
Exercise and evening class fees dropped at the end of 2004 would be reinstates as the experiment did not work due to timing. There was no money to fund this item because all the spare money had been allocated for the exercise machines in the leisure centre.
Mr. David Clarke attended for a discussion about Yellis. Mrs. Cole and Mr. Clarke explained that students in the Falkland Islands do not focus on Yellis exams but on education. One day a student is told to sit the exam and predictions about grades are made with students encouraged to aim for a higher grade than the one predicted. The predictions were highly accurate, with students, given they work for it, the opportunity to achieve higher than predicted grades.
The review of the additional support session brought a wide variety of comments with Dr. Elsby, who supports the measures in place, saying that he thought the students who did not improve through the scheme proved that it did not work. Sylvia Cole reassured the Board that the scheme did work because students who otherwise would be lost were improving their learning skills and that had to be good. The extra ½ hour in school helped students to focus in on areas where they were having trouble and it was helping a lot.
Exclusions and the proposed pupil referral unit received mixed comments with some board members questioning whether Stanley House should be used. Mrs. Cole explained a little history in that when a child was excluded from class one thing that happened was the disruptive person was put in a higher grade class with work to do. The other students didn’t like it but it corrected the behaviour somewhat. There were children who were so disruptive that parents were called to take them home. In each case there was school work provided for the child to do. Fortunately there are no permanent exclusions in the Falklands. Cllr Robertson thought that one should not permanently exclude a child of 11 or 12 because they were too young. Mrs. Cole’s idea was that permanent meant permanent. The education would continue at home under the guidance of the parents.
The proposed pupil referral unit was the last step before permanent exclusion. It needed to be in a non-school setting. Educational staff would not oversee it but a disciplinarian would. The Education department would provide school work for the child. If the behaviour improves, then one day in five could be spent back in the classroom at school. Continued improvement meant that two days in five, three days in five, four days in five could be spent at school rather than at the unit.
Reasoning behind exclusion and/or the referral unit is clear in that the other students in the classroom have the right to learn and not be disrupted by one or two unruly students. Teachers have a priority to teach the whole class and not to focus in on one or two pupils. They have the right to give a lesson and not to have that lesson railroaded by one or two disruptive pupils. Teachers and students have the right to attend school without being harassed, bullied or threatened by one or two unruly students.
Before the exclusion of press and public the Director of education gave her report that covered Pupils as well as staff. Mr. Purvis will be un the UK with his ill wife for approximately six months. Catherine Nelson had been appointed to be acting head and David Clarke would be acting senior teacher, with Mrs. Leach and Ms. Taylor stepping in to handle extra duties. The science teacher who fills in is a fully qualified science teacher. There would be a second round of interviews for a Director of Education to replace Mrs. Cole, whose contract is finished.
Engineers at the hospital would be discussing school heating with the Education Department, as savings on fuel needed to be found.
The next meeting would be on 07 February 2006.