The Alexandra School needs a purging, but embattled Principal Jeff Broomes should not be among the casualties.
Sole Commissioner Frederick Waterman received that recommendation from a former teacher of the St. Peter school when the Commission of Enquiry into its administration and management met today.
Speaking at a truncated session of the tribunal held at the Wildey
Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Greg Force, who taught in Alexandra’s Science Department between September 2010 and August 2011, said “both old and new staff” at the school should be “split up” among the island’s secondary schools.
He said some long standing teachers at the school were like an opposition party, finding fault with everything the administration of the day was attempting to implement.
He made the submission in his brief statement, and while responding to questions from commission junior counsel Michael Yearwood and Barbados Secondary Teachers Union counsel Hal Gollop.
Forde, who teaches Integrated Science and Physics, and is now assigned to the Christ Church Foundation School, said in his statement:
“It is my strong belief that the school should be purged of both old and young staff. They should be split up among the 21 secondary schools and Mr. Broomes should be allowed to continue … with a new body of teachers.”
He suggested the principal was not the school’s problem, but the middle managers, year heads and heads of departments, who were not pulling their full weight.
“As a new teacher at the school, both young and old staff would often approach me with information, trying to get me on a side or assuming that I was on either side,” he said.
“Mr. Broomes never insinuated, enquired or in any way suggested during the numerous meetings that we would have had during the course of the school year that he knew or was aware of any factions, or indeed did he want or ask for me or any of the new staff members to pick a side.”
“I firmly believe that Mr. Broomes has done everything in his power to keep the school running effectively; this, however, may have been difficult without the support of the middle management team, who appeared to want to undermine him at every turn. It is like the opposition in Parliament and any opposition in any parliament in the world just opposing measures for the sake of opposing them, regardless of how good and necessary they would be,” he added.
Asked by Yearwood if he was sticking to the contents of his statement, Forde said he was and noted that during his time at Alexandra he had no problems with anyone.
“I was there for a year and as I said in my statement I got along well with everybody … because I recognised that I would only have been there two years in the first instance so I wasn’t about picking this fight or picking the next fight or whatever the case might be,” he told the commission.
The teacher said he believed during that time “I had the full support of the principal, Mr. Broomes, and I was able to communicate effectively with all the members of staff…”.
“What I observed during this time was certain factions of the school banding together. The young staff appeared to be together and the older staff, who comprise mainly of Alexandra almumni, appeared to be together,” his statement read.
“The problem appears to me to be one of effective communication because of the splitting of these two factions. As you may well imagine, the older staff would have consist of the senior teachers, that is, year heads, heads of departments, the middle management of the school.” (SC)