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Smooth start to new term, says principals

Despite the absence of hundreds of teachers from the classrooms this morning, there were reportedly no major disruptions at the start of the second term of the school year.

Principals at the Alma Parris and Parkinson Memorial schools – the subjects of a meeting teachers held at Solidarity House this morning – said they were able to keep classes intact.

When a Barbados TODAY team visited the Alma Parris Memorial School around 10:45 this morning, principal Valdez Francis and his deputy Branston Clarke said classes got off to a good start with “no hitches”.

In fact, Valdez said a contingency plan had been ready to be executed if the unionized teachers had decided to stay away from the classroom or if there was any disruption at the St Peter institution in the coming days.

However, he opted not to disclose those plans.

“The police and an education officer were here this morning and they found that the school was calm. School started okay and we had no hitches, no problems. They welcomed the deputy principal,” said Francis this morning.

“We are managing the children so that we can have classes still going on and there is no violence. So we are doing the best we can and that is what is expected of a leader and a manager. . . . So we haven’t been hearing of any disruptions or any rude behaviour. If we do not have a full complement of staff you expect we would not be able to carry the regular timetable, so we are doing what we have to do,” he added.

Meanwhile, Clarke said he was not aware of any rift between teachers and management at the institution, adding that they had separate meetings with senior staff and general staff yesterday where they agreed on “a number of things”.

Parkinson principal Jeff Broomes told Barbados TODAY he had no problem with a meeting being held but admitted that it impacted on the day’s proceedings at that Pine, St Michael institution.

“There was very little teaching done in the first half of the [day], but most of the teachers who went to the union meeting came back after 1 p.m. and quite a few came back after 1:30 p.m., that was my only disappointment,” said Broomes, noting that school finished at 2:30 p.m.

“I had full assembly with the children and the 28 teachers that were there. The prefects really took hold of things and helped with their respective forms, then I deployed the teachers that were there to supervise those children in two different slots – one group of teachers for a period of time and then another for the second period of time – and then we had lunch because we were told that the teachers would return for 12 o’clock,”
he explained.

President of the Barbados National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations Rhonda Blackman told Barbados TODAY that while there was “some disruption” in classes across the island it was not significant enough to be a cause for concern.

“Many schools were able to effectively deploy the teachers that they had with adequate supervision and that is something I am pleased to hear,” she said.


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