The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is seeking an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Education to address Parkinson Memorial School principal Jeff Broomes’ “management by memos”.
Classes were suspended at the Pine, St Michael institution today, as 39 of the 61 teachers stayed away from school to attend a meeting at the BUT’s headquarters to discuss their dissatisfaction with his management style.
At the end of the three-hour talks, BUT president Pedro Shepherd told the media that the teachers would return to the classrooms tomorrow, and their grievances would be taken to the appropriate authorities.
“Teachers are calling for changes in the management style of the principal and greater input from management and staff in matters pertaining to the functioning of the school. It is therefore our intention, having now met with the staff, to write the Ministry of Education requesting an urgent meeting to address the concerns so that we can have Parkinson School functioning effectively and return to a state of normalcy,” he said.
Shepherd stressed that while Broomes had enjoyed the goodwill of all members of staff when he assumed office two years ago, that had “died” after he adopted a dictatorial management style.
“The staff at the Parkinson School is fully committed to the school, the children and the full delivery of education and would therefore go beyond the call of duty to ensure that teaching and learning take place . . . They spoke of having the highest respect for the principal, but are very incensed by his management style,” he said.
In a scenario reminiscent of Broomes’ problems at the Alexandra School in St Peter, the teachers complained that his shortcomings included his failure to communicate with the deputy principal and other teaching staff; his refusal to accept any input from members of staff; and his introduction of programmes without consultation, in many cases alerting teachers about the changes only via memos.
Shepherd also noted that the principal had unilaterally changed the timetable on his return to school following his absence at the beginning of the term, introducing computer basics although the school had very little technology.
He told the media that the teachers’ recommendation for fifth form students to be given an additional year to complete the course outline for CXC examinations was also dismissed by the principal.
The BUT boss further charged that Broomes had not written recommendations for teachers who were eligible for promotion.
“These matters seriously affect the goodwill and atmosphere at the school,” Shepherd said.
Although most members of the teaching staff are disgruntled, the union president said there was no plan to go on strike.
When contacted by Barbados TODAY, Broomes stoutly defended his leadership at the school.
Responding to the charge that he had adopted a style of “management by memos”, Broomes maintained that he would continue to use written communication to “protect” himself.
He explained that he had experience with people “twisting his words”, adding that he preferred to have something written in black and white.
Broomes also responded to complaints about the changes he made to the timetable.
“It is my duty as the principal of the school to draw up the timetables. During the long summer holidays I did all of the work on the timetables. That is not the duty of junior officers in a school,” he insisted.
As for his inclusion of computer basics, Broomes pointed out that there were two computer laboratories at the school with adequate room to accommodate the students and dismissed claims that the school’s technology was outdated.
Broomes reiterated that his goal was to ensure that every child who attended Parkinson Memorial leaves with at least three CXC passes.
The outspoken principal also dismissed charges that he had failed to prepare recommendations for appointments, pointing out that on assuming office there were recommendations that had been outstanding for six years in some cases.