All principals of Barbadian public schools should be barred from criticising members of their teaching staff in public if Government implements the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry into the Alexandra School.
That’s one of the 15 main recommendations made by sole commission Frederick Waterman in his September 21 report to the Governor General.
“The Education Regulations and the Public Service Code of Conduct should be appropriately amended to ensure that any public criticism of teachers or their work by a principal is expressly forbidden by law. In the interim, a Ministry of Education Circular to this effect should be issued to the principals of all public educational institutions,” Waterman advised.
His other recommendations are:
2. A review of the Education Act and its Regulations should be undertaken under the auspices of the Ministry of Education to identify and address any areas of ambiguity or uncertainty which could give rise to conflict.
3. Consideration should also be given to the strategic re-organisation of the Ministry of Education and the refocusing of its staff with the aim of ensuring that the ministry operates proactively and is more responsive to the issues faced by the boards of management, the principal and staff and other stakeholders of every public secondary school. Members of the ministry’s senior staff should also be trained in alternative dispute resolution.
4. The Education Regulations should be amended to make it mandatory for both the principal and the deputy principal to attend all board of management meetings.
5. The Ministry of Education should take urgent action to ensure the implementation by the board of management of the Alexandra School (and of an other school where Special Fund Accounts are operated) of the six recommendations issued by the Auditor General in his Review Report of 2006-09-05.
6. The interplay between regulations 5(a) and (b) and regulations 17(a) and 44(5) and the areas of responsibility allocated to the board and the principal respectively should be clarified by way of an amendment to the regulations.
7. The requirement for consultation between the principal and heads of department should be more clearly expressed by an appropriate amendment to the regulations.
8. As harmonious relations cannot now be restored, it is not in the best interests of the Alexandra School that the current principal should be permitted to remain in place at the school as its principal.
9. Immediate steps should be taken to invoke the provisions of section 5.5 of the General Orders of the Public Service to place the principal on a leave of absence from the school in the public interest while more permanent arrangements are negotiated for his re-assignment elsewhere in the Public Service, or alternatively, for his compulsory retirement from the Public Service.
10. At a convenient time in the near future, the deputy principal be transferred from her post at the Alexandra School to a similar post at another school.
11. Mrs. (Amaida) Greaves should be given a written reprimand. However, in view of her position as a public officer, this issue of her not teaching is a matter for investigation and determination by the Public Service Commission.
12. The Commission recommends that the Ministry of Education and the board of management should take steps to terminate the appointment of Mr. Roger Broomes.
13. Consideration should be given to transferring Mrs. Vernell Woods and/or Ms. Abena Williams to other public secondary schools in the teaching service at a convenient time in the near future.
14. It is in the best interest of the school that Mr. (Dwayne) Bryan be transferred from Alexandra School.
15. It is recommended that the Ministry of Education take urgent steps to implement recommendations 3 and 4 of the Inspection Report, which in April 2011 called for an immediate injection of funds for professional expertise to: i) help the staff to rebuild trust, collegiality and good interpersonal relationships; and ii) to find modalities for improving effective communication between the various stakeholders at the school.
Waterman’s findings and recommendations were the culmination of 36 days of public hearings at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, which ended on August 27, 2012.
The commissioner heard oral evidence from 34 witnesses, including officials of the Ministry of Education, teachers, members of the school’s board of management headed by Chairman Keith Simmons, QC, current and former Alexandra teachers and representatives of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union.
Waterman’s warrant and terms of reference issued by the Governor General had mandated him to investigate the administration and management of the St. Peter learning institution and report on his findings and related recommendations.
It is expected that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will update Barbadians on the future of Alexandra’s management tomorrow after Cabinet meets at Government Headquarters. (SC)