Principals of primary schools across the country are demanding a seat at the table before any changes are made to the current structure of the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, also known as the ‘Common Entrance’.
The call comes as the association representing them makes a bid to rise above the ‘second class’ treatment, which they say is being meted out to them by the Ministry of Education.
President of the Public Primary School Principals Association Hyacinth Harris told Barbados TODAY the group, which represents over 80 principals, would soon present recommendations on the way forward for an education system which is reportedly on the verge of tremendous change.
“We have not been invited to any meetings whatsoever. We definitely need to be engaged a lot more, in relation to the common entrance and a number of other issues relating to education. Primary school principals are involved in education and we must have a voice. We must be consulted with regard to anything that is related to the primary school system,” said Harris.
During a public meeting earlier this month, Prime Minister Mia Mottley gave notice that the abolition of the controversial exam was imminent. At the time, she spoke about the introduction of ‘middle schools’ and a more diverse list of academic opportunities for the country’s children.
While Mottley has charged Education Minister Santia Bradshaw with the mission, Bradshaw has only hinted at a greater process of continuous assessment. Addressing journalists after officially releasing this year’s common entrance results, she encouraged students not to allow societal stigmas to shape their perceptions of themselves.
The representative of primary school principals said the association’s members have collectively identified the need for changes to the current “system” of assessment and would give more details after further dialogue.
“In the next few weeks we plan to sit down with a select group to look at the Barbados Secondary School’s Entrance Examination in detail and make a proposal. So we are not at this point giving any statements regarding what we might want to have in place.
“We will have something to say on it… and it will be before the start of the new academic year,” stressed Harris.
On Monday, she complained that principals were not being sufficiently informed about developments taking place in the Ministry of Education which affect them.
“It is a little frustrating, to tell you the truth. We have not had a meeting with any official persons to address our concerns and we have been asking for a meeting. We understand the situation and the circumstances that we are operating under,” she said, adding the issues extend beyond the Common Entrance.
“For example, there are a few schools with clerk typists and every two weeks, they are supposed to report to the Ministry of Education to work there and in the schools we have no one to help. We see this as a disparity between the secondary schools and us, because the secondary schools have all the resources that they need.