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A school with a difference

A school catering to the needs of children with behavioral problems officially opened here today, a year after it began operations.

The New Horizons Academy’s spanking new facility is situated at the location of the now defunct Erdiston Primary School and was designed to build students’ self-esteem and self-actualization.

It targets pupils between the ages of nine and 16 who are “unable to settle down within existing secondary and primary schools,” according to Minister of Education Ronald Jones. It has an enrollment of 18 but is designed to accommodate
up to 60 students.

“A child comes here because you realize that they are not working well within the given education institution.

You bring them here which is different with a lot of space, the numbers are not big, and they really can’t find their own purpose,” Jones said.

The calendar is different from that of other learning institutions in that the length of stay will be based on the progress made by the students who will be transferred to “another learning institution” once there are clear signed of improvement in their behaviour.

School director Colleen Gilkes-Collymore said the duration of their stay could vary from as little as one term to “whenever the child is ready to go.”

“The programme is not only for the return in the mainstream classroom. It is also to transition students into the world of work. So we also had another student who would have gone to Skills Training as well. There are other students who are just about ready to go into different fields,” said Gilkes-Collymore, who explained that parents must play an integral role in the programme.

Acting Chief Education Officer Karen Best spearheaded the project and she could not help but shed some tears as she addressed this morning’s ceremony.

“This school has been the best kept secret in Barbados. After today, persons will know about it. But it is not a school where students are just going to be sent. There is a process and the parents must be on board with us, because we must have more success stories,” she said. (AH)

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