Top performer in this year’s Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE), Charlee Collins, is over the moon with her performance as she competed in Barbados Ninja Warriors three days before the exam.
The St Winifred’s student obtained 240.99 and is heading to The St Michael’s School in September. She recalled how she was able to compete in a very gruelling competition and still be prepared for the exam which would grant her a placement in one of the island’s 23 secondary schools.
“It was very shocking when I was in the car opening it up. One of my friends told me I was in the top  and I did not believe them. I cried [tears] of joy. I had a competition on the weekend of the 11+. So, I had to practise as I really wanted to be in that competition. My mom, she would not let me go to my activities unless I finished all of my homework before I went so I would not get into trouble with my teacher,” she said.
Collins said she went to Champers to celebrate her achievement and received a customized card from the restaurant for her achievement in the BSSEE. “We went to Champers for the first time. It was very fun. My cousin works at Champers and she printed a whole card for me that said congratulations about getting into the top ten. It was a very fancy card, and I liked it,” she said.
The principal of St Winifred’s Primary School Kim Lewis said she is proud of Charlee’s achievement as she is a very hardworking student.
“She has worked hard, and she deserves it. They have all worked hard, and we have congratulated all the students, but Charlee did not seem to back down. She did everything she always does except the gymnastics. I saw that she was in Ninja Warriors and I could not believe that she was going to do that and then bounce into the classroom to do an exam, but she did very well. She is a great example to others that you do not have to give everything up and you can do everything, if you balance it well,” Lewis said.
The Principal added that out of the 55 students who sat the exam, more than half attained their preferred school of choice. “The national average in Mathematics is 65 per cent, and ours is 85 per cent and in English, it is 83 per cent. So, we are well above the national average. We have two boys who have obtained 100 and two boys who have 100’s. Overall, we are just impressed by everyone’s marks and their performance and dedication,” she said.
Lewis attributed the school’s consistent success to the teachers. She explained that the teachers are constantly trained to be abreast of the various learning methodologies which could benefit students.
“Part of it is keeping the class sizes small; our classes have 18 to 20 students. We have regular meetings between teachers of the same year level but also from year level to year level, which is really important. We try to look for gaps and for things that we are not doing so well in and we attack them. We try to make sure that the kids are learning all the subjects. We do not stop social studies and science; they still do drama and P.E. We try to constantly be training, looking at new methodologies using STEM (Science, Technology, English and Mathematics) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) in the classroom to help [create] the more well-rounded student,” she said.
Speaking on the ending of the BSSEE, she said there are various ways in which a student could be taught inside a classroom. “I think to change from the 11+ exam is a good move because now the focus is so much on the exam that all the other skills are lost. It is really important that we can teach in a classroom where the kids can ask questions and analyze and explore on their own without having to be fed information because there is an exam in class four,” she said.