Wills Primary School is celebrating the achievements of their 20 class four students who have done well in this year’s Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE).
There was one early sitter in this year’s examination, Danielle Wickham, who obtained 242.24 B and will be attending Queen’s College in September. Wickham was unavailable for comment when a Barbados TODAY team arrived at the school.
However, top performers in English and Mathematics spoke to Barbados TODAY about their experience in the examination. Natasha Georges scored 100 per cent in the Mathematics component and said she was shocked to find out she had received full marks.
“It was very exciting. I thought I did well, but I did not think that I got 100 and my friends were happy for me, so I was very happy. Yes, I was very shocked and emotional, and I cried,” she said.
Georges, part of a twin, is heading into Queen’s College with her sister Victoria Georges who obtained 96 per cent in English and 89 per cent in Mathematics with a B in Composition. They said they had a special celebration at Salt Café yesterday evening. “We went to Salt with our friends and then we went to get ice-cream,” she said.
Nala Maughn was also a top performer in this year’s BSSEE obtaining 96 per cent in English Language, 97 per cent in Mathematics and an A in Composition. She said although English Language is not her favourite subject, she was happy she did so well. “It was surreal. I did not know that I could get that high in English even though I do not really like English, so I was very shocked,” she said.
Co-Principal of Wills Primary School Julia Franklin said she was pleased with the school’s performance this year as they continue to have students in the top tier year after year. “Once again we sound like a stuck record as we say this every year, but we have done very well. We have kept within the average of the high eighties both in mathematics and language arts. Our overall average for all students added was 88 per cent. So, we are over the moon again,” she said.
Franklin said the school owes its recurring success in the BSSEE to its dedicated teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty. “I can honestly say it is our teachers – it really is. We have a top-notch staff. It is all family atmosphere and the students are comfortable and that is the first thing – that the students are comfortable. If you are not comfortable, it is going to take a little longer to get the best out of you. It is a lot easier for us as they come in with a hop and a skip into school in the morning ready to work and when it is fun time, they are ready to play so it feels like home,” she said.
Reflecting on the proposed changes to be made to the BSSEE, she said that she is in support of abolishing the examination as it has become overwhelming for some students.
“In the years past, I was one of the biggest advocates for the 11+ exam. I thought it was fair, and I thought no matter your background that you can get into your school of choice. It was, for me, the only way that I thought it could work outside of zoning and so forth. In recent years, however, the pressure has become overwhelming. When I did the Common Entrance Exam we did not have that pressure, we did not have mock exams, we did not have, everywhere you turn, the question – where you want to go to school? And the focus is on just that,” she said.
Franklin is of the view that the BSSEE ties the hands of educators to teach for the examination solely. “I find, as an educator, it ties our hands because at the end of the day, we boast well-rounded students. However, we have an end result being the common entrance exam [and] at the end of the day, we are not fooling ourselves. We teach for the exam and towards the exam. Can you imagine if that no longer exists? Then, we will truly teach with passion and you teach all the subjects that are not allowed to be tested… like the sciences that other kids are a lot better at. In this day and age, where education is evolving, I think we need to evolve with it. This exam has become archaic, and it has no place in our society any longer,” she said.
Of the 20 who sat the Common Entrance, three students will be attending Harrison College; ten will be attending Queen’s College, one student is headed to The St Michael’s School; one student will be attending Christ Church Foundation; two students will attend The Lester Vaughn School; one student is off to St George Secondary and one student obtained a bursary.