No room at Alexandra: School unable to accept returning fifth formers

Principal Orson Alleyne and his deputy, June Brown.
Principal Orson Alleyne and his deputy, June Brown.

While the Alexandra School, with larger first and third years, has had to refuse returning fifth form students, Principal Orson Alleyne says plans are already in place to increase classrooms ahead of the addition of a sixth form next year.

Space has been a significant factor in the school’s inability to accept returning fifth form students this year, Alleyne confirmed for Barbados TODAY this morning during orientation of a larger number of first form students.

He said whereas it was customary for the school to take in somewhere in the range of 140 to 150 first year students, this year they were looking at about 180 students, across six classrooms.

Alexandra School has traditionally been one of the smaller, top six schools in the island, with a roll of about 800-plus, compared to 1,000 and over for most secondary schools.

“Based on my experience we would normally cap off, the ministry would normally allocate, about 150 or so, but a few others would come. This year we got the number and then the additional. One or two sought transfers and moved, but not many; … there weren’t many at all,” he said, giving the example of one parent who moved her child because of the challenges associated with where she worked in relation to where the school was located.

Asked about the situation with there being no returning fifth year students, Alleyne clarified: “You see the number I have. We have [six first forms] now. We have about 180 here and the truth is because of some other issues with respect to the numbers we have, because we retained some students too who we are trying to work with.

“For example, we have an additional group in the third year and those things will create a problem and so on, some students who we had and didn’t do very well. So we had to create another class and teaching resources are going to be very tight,” he said.

With teachers being tight now, the principal said though that the proposal for the CAPE curriculum that would be added with the sixth form was ready to be submitted to the ministry for approval, following which they expected to make the transition to a sixth form school in September 2014.

How this would be accommodated with space already being an issue, Alleyne said was already being considered.

“The ministry is providing some additional room. We are looking at two areas, a lot … behind there [to the north west] and also behind there [to the east] and once they approve it we will have some additional space. We have this year to get in the additional facilities and so on, but the ministry has committed itself to working with us,” he noted.

He said all was ready for the start of the new term, with a burst main in the main car park having been repaired and now only awaiting paving not expected to create any challenges.

Additionally, he said his first couple of months since taking over the school have been “good” thus far.

“It has been good in the sense that I think that basically we are working towards one goal, ensuring the students succeed. So we are all working around that… It has been a good experience so far. I have a school with a lot of potential and I am going to exploit it to the benefit of the students. I must say this year we are working with them. This is the formal thing but during the week I will be working with them to ensure they understand what is the Alexandra brand, the standards and values.” (LB)

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