The St. George’s Secondary School will not be adopting the Education Ministry mandated additional school year policy. Chair of the School’s Board, Mr. Gerard Farara, QC, explained that one of the reasons is that the school already has an additional year in its primary school program which equates to the number of years the Ministry is aiming for.
During a press conference on 30 May, Mr. Farara told reporters that the decision came after the school was informed of the Ministry’s new mandate. However, he stated that St George’s decided against the extra year in the interest of the school: “We actually feel that the decisions we have taken are in the best interest of the school,” he told reporters adding that some parents were keen to see the school’s program remain without much change.
“One of the things that has been made clear to us is that the majority of our parents are satisfied with the five year program that we offer and have expressed their reservation about adopting a sixth year.” As such, Mr. Farara said that he feels the decision taken will alleviate parent concerns about an extra year.
The Chairman of the Board announced that the decision generally relates to Form 1 and 2 students and any new students coming in thereafter, adding that a special arrangement has been made for the current third formers. Going back to the issue of the extra year, Mr. Farara explained: “We already have 12 years in our system. We added an additional year many years ago in the primary school by adding a reception class. So you spend seven years in the primary school instead of six.”
He said that since there will be no change of years there is no need to change the nomenclature, from forms to grades. “With regards to the national examination and the national certificate which is issued by the Ministry of Education our students will continue not withstanding not adopting the additional year to be prepared to take that exam and our principal and acting principal and teachers have come up with a proposal that would enable them to still be well prepared to take that exam,” he added.
In his outlining of the arrangement made for the current third formers, the Queen’s Counsel stated: “With the new addition of the additional school year policy, there will be three years instead of two years by which those students in the public schools will be preparing for the national examination. We are starting the preparation for the national exam one year early so that our students will still be doing it for three years and will be doing their assessments for the three years just like the students in the public schools.”
“This would not apply in the next academic year to the current third form students, they have to be dealt with in their own special way. That is why the proposal is there that they can stay on for an additional year; and therefore complete the three year program, and take the national certification examination program, but if they do not wish to obtain that certificate we will offer them the St George’s School leaving certificate so they will leave with a certificate from St George’s. There would not be any disadvantageous situation as they would have still been able to sit the CXC examination ordinarily,” Mr. Farara stated.