The Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School will reopen on Monday even as the Ministry of Education gave the assurance that it will continue to work with staff to find solutions to the challenges affecting that institution.
The commitment came on the heels of two days of talks – Thursday February 7, and Friday February 8 – between the Ministry, teachers and non-teaching staff.
According to a press release by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) the parties were able to air their concerns following last Tuesday’s stabbing incident at the school involving four male students.
Chairperson of the meeting, Deputy Chief Education Officer, Joy Adamson, told staff that the Ministry’s personnel present would note their concerns and suggestions and take them back to the Ministry for further discussions with Chief Education Officer, Karen Best, and Education Minister, Ronald Jones, with the aim of charting a coherent way forward for the school.
“We don’t expect to provide all of the solutions. You are on the frontline; you experience the various challenges but we need to work together to effectively resolve the several issues. The Ministry sees it as one of our main responsibilities to make sure that teachers operate in a safe environment,” she stated.
Over the two days, counsellors from Network Counselling Services were also present at the school for any staff member who needed counselling. The Deputy Chief Education Officer stressed that staff would continue to access these services as needed.
Adamson noted that during the two-day meeting, several staff members shared their concerns “openly and frankly”.
“The atmosphere was cordial and at times emotional. Contrary to some reports made by one teachers’ union member, all persons making contributions were allowed to speak freely and without disruption,” she said.
The main areas raised during the meeting included the need for more guidance counsellors at the school to deal with students with emotional problems; additional security; training for teachers to deal with students with learning disabilities; and a need for curriculum reform to suit the cognitive abilities of students at the school.
Meantime Chairman of the Board, Dennis Holder, who was also present for the two days of talks, revealed that the picture making the rounds on social media depicting a large collection of weapons – knives, scissors, screwdrivers and ice picks – which was credited to the school, was not as a result of one weapons haul.
He said while the weapons were in fact collected from students it was over a number of years.
Holder also pledged the continued support of the Board of Management to the staff and students of the school.