Principals must manage their schools and be responsible for quality programmes and teaching for improved performance by students.
So said Chief Secretary and Secretary for Education Kelvin Charles, who explained that training, monitoring and supervision would be strategies used have students’ perform better at national exams.
Charles said accountability by principals and teachers for the quality of education at the island’s schools was one of the items discussed at a meeting with Education Minister Anthony Garcia on Monday.
Garcia addressed the need for strategic leadership and management in education at Tuesday’s national consultation on the Draft Education Policy Paper titled “A Look into the Future,” at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough.
There he said:
“What we need in the education system is not only quality teachers, is not only proper infrastructure, it is not only terms and conditions of service that our teachers would enjoy but a very important element in the education system is strategic leadership and management and that cannot be underscored.
“We can have the best infrastructure, the best schools, the most highly trained teachers, learning conditions that are supreme but if we lack strategic leadership, all that would result to nought.”
At Wednesday’s post Executive Council media briefing at the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation in Scarborough, Charles recalled a primary schools’ assessment exercise for Standard One to Three students in Mathematics and Language Arts in September, which he said was intended to provide data on students’ performance as well as be a diagnostic assessment.
He said this was to assist school principals and teachers to plan quality programmes, determine specific strategies for enhanced performance by students and to generate strategies for accelerated learning programmes.
Charles reported that there was agreement at the meeting with Garcia on the need for greater accountability in education, especially at the level of the principals and teachers at schools with the emphasis being on school-based management.
“Which means that the principal in last measure, has responsibility for the management of the school and therefore ought to have some responsibility as well for the output of the school under his or her remit.
“We emphasized the needs also for schools to collect their own data and analyse the data on the performance of their students to determine plans and programmes for improvement,” he said.
Charles said discussions on Monday also touched on the payment of ex-gratia awards to Early Childhood Care Centre teachers who were placed on contracts up to 2015, and that the ministry has assumed responsibility for this matter.
He said Garcia also promised to take up the matter of the Diploma of Education programme being made available to secondary school teachers in Tobago teachers with the responsible institutions.
And he said he also mentioned to Garcia the official commissioning of the the Tobago Professional Teachers’ Centre in John Dial, in June of this year, to seek to provide continuous and relevant opportunities for teachers to upgrade their skills.
Charles also reported that marking School Based Assessments (SBAs) was discussed, saying that this matter be may headed to court.
“We were advised that based on legal positions as articulated by both the office of the Attorney General as well as the attorneys representing the office of the Chief Personnel Officer, that teachers are responsible for marking these SBAs.
“TTUTA is of a different view and the matter may very well have to be settled in court but in the interim, the position remains,” he said.
TTUTA has said that the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) is responsible for SBA grading and that teachers must be paid to do this.