Take my head…

Principal Jeff Broomes speaking with his wife Margaret during a break today.

Even if it means his own head is “chopped off” in the process, embattled Principal of the Alexandra School Jeff Broomes is recommending major education reform in Barbados.

And as one of the first orders of business, the veteran educator wants education be made an “essential service”, thereby restricting strikes like the one which affected the school in January.

Broomes also said it was “high time” the island had an industrial court to resolve disputes, and that there was need for a teaching service commission.

As far as Alexandra was concerned too, the principal told the Commission of Enquiry into the school that there was a need for a greater understanding of the Education Act and related regulations by all functionaries at the school, including himself, other staff, and the board of management.

He also asserted that if there were “some persons” at Alexandra unprepared to work with their colleagues, they should be given a chance “to go if they want”.

The principal said he thought having the enquiry was a good thing at this stage in Barbados, since there were problems in education that needed resolving.

He was asked to make specific recommendations in the context of the terms of reference of the enquiry into Alexandra’s administration and management.

“I think a commission like this … with substantial investment of taxpayers money, and an investment that I think is worthy because I am of the view that quite possible at this time the country needed this. Whether my head is chopped off or not it doesn’t matter… I think we have to put in place what is right for this country in education reform,” he stated.

“I believe that education should be an essential service limiting the right to strike.”

The witness testified that he thought it “ridiculous and unfair” that “the first thing you do is to go on a strike”.

“I think the first one (strike) in 2006 was to cover for the shop steward who did not attend the (Teachers Professional Day) conference, I can’t understand how you would strike over that… I think we have to have established protocols,” he told the commission.

“I also believe that it is clear that there are some persons at the school who don’t want to work with others and … they should be given an opportunity to go if they want.”

Broomes said too that the time had come for a teaching service commission, and added: “I also think it is high time for an industrial court in this country.”

He recommended other changes, specifically related to reform of the Education Act and its related regulations.

“I honestly believe that there is need for some training in terms of people having a clear understanding in their role and functions of the Education Act and regulations, all of us together,” he said.

“I honestly believe also that the role of the board should also be brought into it because I know that the Ministry of Education at some time, I think it was in 2006, held a meeting for principals, chairpersons of boards and secretary treasurers … and lots of things were discussed and accepted and now a number of those things have been done away with.”

Broomes also said boards of management had to know their roles.

“I don’t think that persons who come to the school for three hours a month can run a school, many of whom don’t know much about running education, almost all of whom are political links,” he stated. (SC)

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