Path to improvement

Shannon Springer posing with her trophies, among which are the Sheila Maynard Award for Good Work in English, Home Economics, Good Leadership Skills, and the Erla Weddeburn Award for Most Outstanding Accounts Student.

Several good things are happening at Princess Margaret Secondary School.

Acting Principal Wayne Willock told the audience at the Six Roads, St. Philip school’s Annual Speech Day and Prize Giving last Friday that reflected on the last academic year, that through the dedication and selflessness of his staff, the achievements recorded in a number of areas were commendable even though there was still work to be done.

He spoke of the internal and external examination results, describing the former as “moderate” and the latter as “satisfactory”, the achievements in music, sports and other extra-curricular activities and the strides made in the individual subject areas.

The principal said that one student was admitted to Sixth Form at Christ Church Foundation, others at Barbados Community College, the Barbados Vocational Training Board and Skills Training.

“We are confident that our efforts will continue to effect meaningful change, but the challenge remains mammoth, especially when we continue to be asked to accommodate large numbers of students in their first year, many of whom need concentrated remedial attention, underachievement at the primary level, lack of parental support, and the prevailing perceptions of our school, which will be corrected, may serve to compound the problem.

“The intervention of well trained teachers equipped with the requisite remedial teaching skills has helped to ameliorate the situation. On-going efforts at staff development programmes, undertaken both on and off the campus, will continue to be regarded as necessary strategy for students and school improvement,” the educator said.

The school has a roll of 1,000.

But he also drew the attention of his specially invited guests, who included featured speaker Barbara Parris, her husband Vere Parris, former Principal of Alleyne School, Erwin Greaves, Senior Education Officers Gertrude Welch and Fernando Carter, members of the Board of Management, current and former teachers, to the fact that more had to be done, not only at Princess Margaret but across the school system.

“One of the most outstanding obstacles to the effective delivery of eduction in many schools at this time, and to reiterate the need for the much spoken about alternative education institution in this country.

“The time has come when a very serious stand has got to be taken in the face of spiralling violence on school compounds, albeit perpetrated by a 10 per cent minority of students who are bent on criminal acts and persistent deviance and disruption, in particular the unnecessary fighting, where the students do not even know what the fight was really about.

“These kinds of students, regardless of age, need to be extracted from the mainstream of the educational system and be accommodated in another place specifically set up to assist with major counselling, psychological assessments and a different system of sanctions from those which currently obtain in the Code of Discipline document.

“Each day that these things happen, I fear not only for the lives of students and teachers alike, but also for the trauma that new students coming into the institution must face and cope with. Teaching and learning processes are drastically reduced because of the inordinate amounts of time spent in trying to control a few repeat offenders who have no problem with being suspended and who make it verbally very clear that they don’t care about anybody.

“But, however, in the face of these challenges, we at Princess Margaret stand in our quest to seek higher things by turning challenges into opportunities and making those opportunities successes,” Willock said. (DS)

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