“As of the 2014-2015 academic year, students entering high school will have to complete six years of secondary level education. Whilst Form Three (Grade 9) students who will be selecting their senior programmes this year, will have to complete three (3) more years of secondary education instead of two taking them to Grade 12,” Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn announced in the House of Assembly on 17 April.
In making the announcement, Hon. Walwyn stressed that Government was not adding a “sixth form” as it is known in other Caribbean countries or the United Kingdom. Instead, the Ministry is adding an additional year to the school life cycle in order to give students the time needed to complete the curriculum and hence allow them to be ready when they leave the secondary level to go on to tertiary education or the world of work.“
“With the implementation of the additional year, we are aware that a number of issues will come to the fore such as space, additional teachers and teaching and learning resources so that the schools of this Territory can be productive. I would like to assure all that we have discussed these issues and measures have been and will be put in place to address them. For example, Madame Speaker, the matter of teacher quality was one concern raised and while we are aware that there are a number of teachers who provide quality instruction and have a genuine interest in the progress of our students, there is still room for improvement in our schools. Plans are in train to address a more stringent professional development regime and we are in discussions with agencies in the region with regard to training of our principals and teachers and a licensing regime is being crafted for both principals and teachers and will be tied to this professional development and training,” the Minister stated.
Hon. Walwyn explained that an additional year within the school system will result in an education process that spans thirteen years instead of twelve — from kindergarten through Grade 12. “So far, for the 2013-2014 academic year, the Ministry has had public consultations with the Tortola, and Virgin Gorda communities. In order to ensure that a wide cross-section of persons across the Territory was reached, the meetings were aired on the radio with the ability to have persons call in with their questions, concerns and suggestions. In addition officers appeared on the television programme “Spotlight” to discuss these initiatives. We have also held discussions with principals and teachers of the public secondary schools, and the principals of the private secondary schools. Throughout this process we received many constructive comments, questions and suggestions from as far away as the US mainland and many of these where possible, were taken on board,” he added.