Inspection did not solve problems

The 2010 Inspection Report on the Alexandra School failed to provide a plan to fix problems at the St. Peter institution.

Principal Jeff Broomes said the document merely recorded statements and did not display “critical thinking” or offer solutions.

He told this to the Commission of Enquiry on Alexandra when it met today at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

“I think the inspection report was in many way a strange way of trying to address issues because I don’t think it showed much critical thinking at all, I think what the inspection report tended to do was to report what people said,” he said as his evidence was led by commission senior counsel Milton Pierce.

“I don’t think it went beyond reporting what people said, hence there are a lot of comments in there where the principal said this or the deputy principal said that.

“I don’t think they went into understanding the problem so it is not to my mind coincidental that after the inspection report there wasn’t much improvement because I don’t think it really tried to address any foundational issues. That is why I think this thing (the commission) may be better,” he stated.

While acknowledging the school he has led since 2002 had problems, including a rift between himself and teachers, the principal said he did attempt to improve relations after the publishing of the inspection report.

But he also testified that any effort to improve relations at Alexandra and its management and administration could not rest on matters involving the principal and teachers exclusively.

“Any time we want to discuss rifts in the school at the level of simply rifts between the principal and some teachers in the school we are not going to go very far in resolving this thing,” he said.

He also said rifts at schools were not unusual and that things had been made worse at Alexandra because of the actions of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union.

“We are professionals [so] I do not understand. This is the fourth school that I have worked at and in every single school there are rifts between principals and teachers because professionals disagree,” Broomes stated.

“As far as I am concerned, I think the rifts at Alexandra were pulled open by the too often unnecessary and aggressive disrespect from the head of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union.”

The witness also told the tribunal that while there was a view in the inspection report that the divisions at the school were so bad opposing groups were in “immovable” positions he never thought it was irreparable.

“I think most objective people could be led to that position, I have never bought into it because I have always felt that we could come together at some point. I cannot fault any objective person to coming to that position,” he said. (SC)

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