A smooth start
Even as Chief Education Officer Laurie King declared a smooth start to the Alexandra term this morning, the main parents representative body expressed optimism that it could signal and end to the turmoil.
King, who arrived on the premises of the Queen’s Street, Speightstown, St. Peter school shortly before assembly began at 8:45 a.m., along with his two deputies, Karen Best and David Clement, said the first gathering of the day progressed smoothly.
Speaking to the media outside of the gates of the compound, which were closely guarded by security, he said: “We came this morning, the Chief Education Officer, deputy chiefs and other senior officers, [and] we introduced the principal and deputy principal, and the teachers to the student body and to the other members of staff.
“They were well-received. All the teachers who were reassigned were in attendance and have taken up duties here at the Alexandra School,” he reported.
The chief said the students were receptive to the new members of staff and stressed that considerable thought went into the choosing of teachers to replace those who would have been transferred from the institution.
“Obviously no two persons are exactly alike. We examined the skill sets of the various persons and did a match that would suggest that persons would be able to deliver instruction in the specific disciplines here at Alexandra School.
“There will be need over time for a little tweaking and we will be closely monitoring the situation and where there is need for any minor adjustments, the Ministry stands ready to facilitate.”
In fact, King confirmed that the monitoring team was back in place at the school and would remain to keep an eye on things until the end of the term.
A monitoring team was put in place at the school with the return of the more than 20 striking teachers to classrooms last year. It was one of the measures with which the Parent Teachers Association had expressed satisfaction to ensure that teaching had returned to normal and that students at the institution were being instructed.
President of the PTA, Carl Benskin, told Barbados TODAY as he was on his way to collect his children from the school this evening that he was keeping an open mind that this could be the start of a resolution to the turmoil.
“Well this morning went really smoothly with the introduction of the new administration. We spoke to the students and the school urging them to let things settle because we have got to let the process work. We can’t say anything yet, we just have to wait and see,” he stated.
He added that members of the executive had already arranged to meet with principal Alleyne at the end of classes this evening to look at how the day progressed and also plan the next steps forward.
Asked about any communication to the parents, Benskin said they had already scheduled the normal general meeting of the PTA for January 26 at which time they would introduce the new teachers and members of the administration to the parents so they could have that dialogue.
As classes begun at the northern school today though, eight of the transferred teachers from the Alexandra School were on sick leave from their respective schools, with their union, the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, said to be meeting with their lawyer on the legality of their transfers and other matters relating to this situation. (LB)