As the Frederick Smith Secondary School continues a slow and painful recovery after last year’s fatal stabbing on the compound, the school’s principal wants less students to be sent there come September.
On Friday, Major Michael Boyce broke his near two-month silence as he spoke to the media regarding the murder of 16-year-old Temario Holder at the school.
In a brief Barbados TODAY interview, Boyce admitted that he, along with students and teachers are still reeling from the incident, but he has pledged his long-term commitment to the institution’s healing.
The principal acknowledged that the current environment may deter students from choosing the Trent’s, St James institution ahead of this year’s Common Entrance Exam.
In fact, he prefers a smaller intake for the next school year.
“One of the things that we would love, to be honest with you is that the intake coming in at the end of the 11 plus exam will be a lot lower than what it is now. We get 170, 172 sometimes and honestly we need a lot less than 170,” he disclosed after Friday’s Speech Day and Prize Giving Ceremony.
This, he explained, was to facilitate a more intimate classroom experience as a number of new social, academic and behavioural strategies take root.
“Our efforts are not going to focus just on that one incident. They will focus on developing the total child. So everything we do here at Frederick Smith will concentrate on that and building on the talents that the students have,” Boyce said.
“As I outlined in my speech, we would have started some curriculum reform initiatives and we know we have to do more. We need to get additional training for the teachers and the teachers themselves have been asking for that. We are driving the reform from within. The plan is to change what we do so we can do it better for our children.”
As part of that effort, Boyce explained the the institution would be working hard to reconstruct its sports programme recognising that learning is “more than book work”.
“We are going to continue working hard, developing all the skills including football, badminton and cricket, because for us, learning is about the total development of the child. Our motto is “covet the best gifts” and we want all those who come here to strive for that,” he said.
He added that counsellors from Supreme Couselling are still coming into the institution to conduct sessions with those who have signed up. The school is also strengthening its Health and Family Life Education programme as mandated by the Ministry of Education.
During the interview, Boyce also responded to recent reports from Supreme Counselling’s Chief Executive Officer Shawn Clarke that some Frederick Smith students are reluctant to attend school, fearful that they too could become victims.
Boyce explained that it would be “unreasonable” to expect that students would have fully recovered from the trauma of last year’s incident. He however denied this was resulting in high levels of absenteeism while expressing some concern about punctuality.
During his report at Friday’s speech day, he cautioned students that negative behaviours of a minority of the school’s population would not be allowed to derail the positive efforts of staff and students.
“We will continue as a school to address all instances of indiscipline whenever they arise. We will continue to devise and implement programmes aimed at producing positive behavioural change in our students and we expect the help of all,” Boyce said.
Featured speaker, Dr Kenroy Burke also lent his voice to the discussion on education and behavioural reform.
The talent development and leadership consultant told those in attendance that the country’s education product, though useful 40 years ago, is now outdated.
Instead, he suggested that education should focus on the students, the changing nature of their needs in the 21st century technological age and challenged educators to go the extra mile if they really want to make a difference. [email protected]