More trouble brewing between Parkinson principal and teachers

Classes at the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School are expected to grind to a halt tomorrow, amid rising tensions between unionised teachers and principal Jeff Broomes.

The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) has summoned 54 of the 61 teachers at the Pinelands St Michael institution to an emergency meeting at the union’s headquarters at 9:30 a.m.

BUT President Pedro Shepherd told Barbados TODAY the union had called out its members in protest of the management style and attitude of the principal to members of the teacher staff.

However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY at the school’s compound, Broomes said he was made aware of the impending protest action through an anonymous letter that had been making the rounds outlining recent problems at the school.

Embattled Principal Jeff Broomes has called on teachers to put the interests of the students first. (Picture by Remy Rock.)
Embattled Principal Jeff Broomes has called on teachers to put the interests of the students first.
(Picture by Remy Rock.)

“I was surprised firstly when I saw the letter because I did not even know that something was afoot,” Broomes told Barbados TODAY, while appealing to the teachers to keep the peace and to put the interests of the students first.

“I am of the view that most of the teachers at the school have the school at heart. Most of the teachers work well with me and I work well with them. I am very comfortable with trying to reverse the trend of the school,” he said.

However, he did admit that some fall out had occurred with some members of his teaching staff over his introduction of a new computer programme in the junior school.

The principal, who was home on sick leave at the beginning of the school year in September, said when he returned to Parkinson four weeks later, he found that the programme he had implemented was removed.

But noting that Government had spent over $500 million in the mid-1990s to equip several schools with computer technology, he argued that “it would be a waste of funds to simply drop  the programme”.

“They [teachers] took Religious Education right out of the junior school,” he added, descibing the move as “absolute nonsense”.

Broomes, who has met with the Chief Education Officer Laurie King on the matter, has since moved to reinstitute    the programmes.

The former Alexandra School principal, who was transferred to Parkinson at the height of similar tensions with teachers at the St Peter institution, said: “I just want peace at the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School. I just do not want the children at this school to be disadvantaged.”

However, he lamented that “47 per cent of the students [there] do not attend church” and for the last five years more than 63 per cent of students at Parkinson had left school every year without a certificate.

“Parkinson in a strange way is the only school in Barbados that is located in one of our depressed communities. I do not think it gets the attention it deserves. It is clear that education in Barbados seems to be focused on the talented and the bright.

“I think that at the end of the day people like me have to focus on improving [students at] the bottom otherwise those are the ones who will force us to install burglar bars and be afraid to drive at night. I am going to do everything to help poor people’s children,” he stressed, while stating that it was his intention to ensure that every student leaves with at least three certificates.

Efforts to reach King were unsuccessful. Barbados TODAY was also told that his deputy Karen Best is on leave, while David Clement, the other deputy, said he could not comment on the situation.

When contacted, General Secretary  of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Dennis Clarke said he would wait to see what happens tomorrow.

Noting that Broomes was a longstanding member of the NUPW, Clarke said parents of children attending Parkinson School had been supportive of the principal in his drive to improve the quality of education offered at the school.

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22 Responses to NEW STORM

  1. Kourtney James
    Kourtney James October 28, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Trouble always seems to find you Uncle Jeff

  2. Denise Vaughan
    Denise Vaughan October 28, 2014 at 2:14 am

    I don’t like what is happening at some or most of what people refer to as the lower schools, where children are not pushed to do at least English and Maths at CXC. If 10 children do their exams and pass, they turn around and talk about a 100% pass rate which is a bunch of lies. People will then feel that so many children did CXC Exams. Then when those who didn’t do CXCs’, which is the majority, finish school, then have to go and pay o’level institute to now be doing these exams. I believe every child should be made to do those exams plus something like wood work or metal work or f&n as it is called now. Please teachers out there, go and teach and push some encouragement to the children. Reverse the role of teacher and student and let them figure how you become a teacher. Make them realise you have to know something about the subject in order to teach or go out to work. I know you all can make a difference if you at least try and talk some sense into their heads. Bring back former students who regretted they didn’t try hard enough and ended up trying to get a few CXCs’ in order to get a job, to talk with the kids and encourage them to try and at least do English and Maths and maybe a subject they really have an interest in. Students have left these schools and gone to sixth forms and on to universities. So anyone can do the same. I wish them all the best. I wonder how many schools still teach religious studies?

  3. Cavil Best
    Cavil Best October 28, 2014 at 2:38 am

    Too much democracy!

  4. Princess Tiny Neferua
    Princess Tiny Neferua October 28, 2014 at 5:18 am

    It seems some people don’t like change..if what he’s trying to do is for the children benefit…why would these teachers goes against it…I guess maybe they have become complacent….and would finally have to teach the children something….instead of just telling them to open a text book and do page so and so …while they sit at a desk … scrolling through their phones all day long…..

  5. Amarilis Lily
    Amarilis Lily October 28, 2014 at 5:19 am

    The change in those children since Mr broom went to that school is obvo

  6. Amarilis Lily
    Amarilis Lily October 28, 2014 at 5:37 am

    The change in the attitude and behaviour of these students at Parkinson have changed tremendously they are proud of their new uniform with the addition things added to it these children are told just by the constant system of sending those whom are deemed ” never to be able to learn ” and they know what is expected of them and they deliver , it really was time for a change in the direction of the school to build the self esteem of these children and assist them to take their place as honorable citizens of this country what is the use of buying an investment portfolio and then doing nothing to maintaine it how will the investment build how will it give returns , if it can be done at Springer there was a time when no one wanted their children to go to springer or Garrison ,but because of principals who were willing to take the licks necessary to upgrade them there are now among the respected schools in this island. All of our teachers and stake holders need to watch Crissy again with a critical eye with a serious view of learning what is wrong with our educational system it is right there.

  7. Bentley Williams
    Bentley Williams October 28, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Toni Beckles, you ain’t a Frenchman and ya dead wrong. The majority of Parkinson students leave school with nothing, that is unacceptable and has to change.

    • Carol Marshall
      Carol Marshall October 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

      This is a ‘witch hunt’ if I ever saw one, people should take the time out to go back to see what happened when this whole thing started. Talk to students, their parents get their opinion or do we really want the truth????? I like Piper Timaya Jordan’s contribution to this article take a read she has an insiders view point that brings focus to the real problem, and I mean READ not the headlines.

    • Brigitte Adams
      Brigitte Adams October 28, 2014 at 8:09 am

      I agree you parents voice your comments.

  8. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner October 28, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Jeff Broomes nuff respect for wanting every kid in Barbados to learn and leave school with something to show for it not just those at top schools.

  9. Bobby Gilkes
    Bobby Gilkes October 28, 2014 at 6:45 am

    I like Jeff I like what he is trying to do but when you have teachers who ain’t care about the children and only contented on getting paid you would meet this resistance and then these same said teachers would call in on radio and tv and talk bout society morals decaying

  10. Tracia Seifert-Licorish
    Tracia Seifert-Licorish October 28, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Utter and complete madness..i am really getting tired of these supposed teachers who are suppose to put the children learning first are holding the very same children hostage….listen up ministry of education..over 2000 graduates just left cant be that hard to replace them 51 so called teachers….

  11. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall October 28, 2014 at 6:59 am

    The teachers need to let the children do they exams , a lot of student suffer at teachers hands, there were a student from one of the lower secondary school that the teacher would not let 1 child from that class take exams , but now he is a doctor.

  12. Tracia Seifert-Licorish
    Tracia Seifert-Licorish October 28, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Many of them don’t teach the full syllabus and then gine turn around telling parents bout lessons…i understand some children may need extra lessons but too many teachers looking for extra money for the work them getting paid already between 8-3. Like i said earlier…utter and complete madness…if you know you dont have what it takes to be a good or even great teacher go and find another job.

  13. Bobby Gilkes
    Bobby Gilkes October 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

    I personally would like to know how a teacher does feel teaching a class of about 30 children (of course you will have your trouble trees) and only 1 or 2 students passing that same said subject for cxc

  14. Stress Free
    Stress Free October 28, 2014 at 8:01 am

    even before he got to that school, those teachers, had already made up their minds, not to cooperate, they were just waiting for an opportunity, to act up, i doubt, they gave him a chance to, work hand in for the betterment of the school, i know bajans,he has to be a very strong man, WHO GOD BLESS NO MAN CURSE, BIG RESPECT TO THE JEFF BROMMES/MATHEW FARLEYS OF THIS WORLD

  15. Michelle Smith-Mayers
    Michelle Smith-Mayers October 28, 2014 at 9:42 am

    My full support for Jeff Broomes. All students deserve to be put forward for CXC and teachers need to do all they can to prepare them. BUT seems hell bent on getting rid of this man.

  16. Asiba October 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I believe in what Uncle Jeff is doing. The problem in Barbados is that Bruggadung Johnson is correct in his analysis of the Barbadian worker–especially the Females. They are creating serious problems in the workplace


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