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Chief objected to appointment

Principal Jeff Broomes’ appointment to the Alexandra School was allegedly objected to by officials, including a former chief education officer.

Barbados Secondary Teachers Union President Mary Redman made that claim today, as she called for increased managerial training for people taking up such positions, as well as a more stringent job interviewing process.

She was giving a third day of evidence at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra today at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

“Yesterday I made the statement, and this is not to question the operation of the commission in any way, but I think that it would have been in the commission’s best interest to have had Dr. Wendy Griffith-Watson as Chief Education Officer here to give evidence,” she told the commission.

“She was the chief education officer who interacted longest in that capacity with the principal. Mrs. Griffith-Watson has said to us at meetings on more than one occasion that she is on record as having objected to the recommendation of Mr. Broomes to the post of principal.”

It was at this point that Broomes’ counsel Cecil McCarthy, QC, interjected and said: “I have got news for your Miss Redman… Mr. Broomes had two interviews on that day and he had two options, to be the principal of Alexandra and principal of Alleyne so he was on top twice.”

Commissioner Frederick Waterman then said “because you are a bright person, an articulate person that doesn’t mean that you can overnight lead, or be principal of a school, of 800 (students) and a staff of 80 in certain instances and 60 in certain instances”.

“That does not mean that. You can interview well but that doesn’t mean you could make a good principal, you are a highly intelligent person, but that does not mean you can be a leader of men,” he said.

Redman said her union had pointed out such shortcomings to the Ministry of Education “on numerous occasions, that there needs to be training in personnel management, in industrial relations for persons in senior positions especially”.

“We have put forward the recommendation over years that there needs to be training for all teachers, we have done an outline of an industrial relations course that should be inserted into the Diploma in Education and Certificate in Education at Erdiston, and we made that available to the Ministry of Educatoin. And as these people move up they would already have gone through that type of training in those professional courses,” she stated.

“But we feel that it is very important that persons in leadership positions in the school especially have the skills of leadership honed. We have also said too that the interviewing panels should have persons on them who are trained to conduct interviews and the whole process of a one-off interview cannot be sufficient. There are other types of testing that should be in place.”

In response, Waterman added: “I saw an article in the Barbados TODAY recently which was saying just that — that these managers should be trained.” (SC)

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