The Kingston Region has embarked on a project entitled Excellence in Anglican Schools that seeks to fulfil our mandate to offer hope and salvation in Christ Jesus. A major undertaking in this effort is to collaborate with the Department of Education and Youth in the strengthening of capacity in Instructional Leadership and School Governance. A workshop was held in July 2018 and visits are being planned to get first hand of Action Plans to enhance their School Improvement Project. St. Michael’s Primary School is the first school to be visited for that purpose. The following is an overview of improvement that is happening at the school. The Principal is Mrs Juliet Campbell McPherson and the Chairman of the Board is Dr Blossom Anglin Brown.
REPORT: GOAL OF THE SCHOOL IN 2018-2019
- To achieve continuing population growth. (so far increase from 98 to 278)
- To foster growth in literacy and numeracy (Based on figures from the MOEYI test, there has been a growth rate in literacy from 77-82% and in numeracy from 37-51%).
- There has been no test by the NEI since 2013 when the school was given an assessment of unsatisfactory.
STEPS TAKEN TO ACHIEVE GOAL (Using the very negative 2013 NEI report as a constant motivation to achieve all-round growth in the school)
- Motivation of staff
- Tries to inform the community about the school
- She teaches Anglicanism fervently and reminds parents that it is a Christian school.
- The staff cater to students’ needs.
- They strive to sell that mantra.
- They had the high wall at the front of the school which was a turnoff replaced with a gate.
SUPERVISION OF TEACHERS
- Lesson planning management and close monitoring
- Encourage the inclusion of technology
- Foster teamwork and camaraderie among staff
- Sent teachers to the National Standards Curriculum (NSC) training workshops to ensure that they think about how the lesson could have been done better.
- Instructional leadership provided
- Hold effective evaluation workshops with staff
- Focus on parent consultations; the last one had over 100 parents attending.
- More focus on giving homework and setting it out in the plans.
- Expand the school’s Welfare Programme with a dynamic breakfast programme.
RELATIONSHIP WITH STAKEHOLDERS
- Kept in touch with the variety of stakeholders e.g Bank of Jamaica, LIME and Stock Exchange who are very supportive of the school – printing thousand of materials for the school or assisting with the breakfast programme. Present was a painting from an inmate from the General Penitentiary. The school has made presentations of certificates to some inmates who have worked with the school.
- Focussed on safety and security for the students. (See article in the link below
AS BULLETS FLY KIDS COWER BEHIND ST. MICHAELS SHIELD – GLEANER
- Has benefited from using persons from the Diocese to help in motivating staff and students.
- Has tried to eliminate any kind of discrimination. For example, children on Path are given the same kind of meals as those who are not.
TEACHER FEEDBACK AS REPORTED BY THE PRINCIPAL
- Teachers show appreciation for the effort being made to have them in a safe environment.
- Based on the ongoing appraisals being done and the feedback given, they feel secure in their job and are made permanent.
- Good camaraderie among teachers.
- Morale among academic staff and ancillary staff high. The teachers participate in the many training opportunities offered by the MOEYI and NEI.
One negative feedback heard from outside is the feeling that the school is pushing the students too hard. The principal and teachers do not share that view.
OTHER GROWTH FACTORS
- Upward movement in students at the pre-primary/infant level.
- Students sit the Mico Test and the Readiness Inventory tests and in recent times, they are quicker and generally better students.
- More work seems to be done in the infant department resulting in a better output.
- The school now receives some of the students from the community who have attended other good Early Childhood institutions in the community.
Grade 4 level
- There has been an improvement in literacy and numeracy at the grade 4 level and reduction in the number performing below grade level but the principal is still concerned about the level of absenteeism.
Response to PEP
- Taken seriously from grade 1.
- The school has undertaken the MOEYI training. Teachers attend the workshops and impart to those who did not go.
- Grade 5 PEP classes are held on Saturdays at a low fee of $500.00. For some students, this is not affordable so the school tries to get sponsors for them.
STATE OF PLANT/RESOURCES:
- The plant is neatly laid out and all the areas inside the school perimeter are clean and well kept. They recently had areas repainted courtesy of Price Waterhouse.
- All the classrooms are spacious with lots of educational displays and a great focus on positive character traits especially in the grades 1 and 2 classes.
- The library was recently refurbished but needs more books. While there, I made a telephone call to the Custos of Kingston and CEO of Kingston Bookshop, Mr Steadman Fuller and he has promised to have further discussions with the principal.
- The front gate that replaced a wall needs signage. The principal has promised to get that done as soon as possible and have a Warden in place to assist the students in crossing the busy street.
- A negative aspect had to do with the unsightly area in the prison environment but which is visible from the classrooms on the upper floors. On the day of the visit there was lots of garbage seen over there. The principal said she had complained about it and they promised to send a truck to remove all the garbage.
- The road to the entrance of the school by vehicles was also in an unsightly condition.
A positive aspect of the school is the principal’s ability to get assistance from institutions in the community such as the Bank of Jamaica, Price Waterhouse, The Stock Exchange etc.
- Based on the record in the Principal’s Action Plan and interview of the school coach, students are involved in a track programme. They also participate in activities such as the 4H All Island Expo and clubs such as Brownies.
The principal spoke glowingly of the support from the Chairperson,
Dr Blossom Anglin Brown.
- There is still a need to grow the school population and REDUCE frequent absenteeism.
- There is still the ongoing challenge of parents taking the students out of school or not sending them because there is no lunch money. The school tries to find creative ways to prevent those problems by trying to use what is available for lunch and service the children
- Fundraising is not economically viable in the school.
- There is an ongoing water problem which sometimes results in the school being locked down for many days.
HOW COULD THE DIOCESE HELP?
- The principal would like the Diocese to assist in organizing training workshops in the key areas of Science, Social studies and Maths.
RECOMMENDATION FROM EDUCATION COMMITTEE:
- The Education Committee members were pretty impressed with the school but were mindful that they did not get the staff input. The limited-time did not allow it. But the principal took us to most of the classrooms where we could make observations.
- The principal could request a visit to a Chamber Of Commerce meeting to thank those who have been assisting the school and pointing out how others could help in the development of human capital especially given the location of the school in the downtown community and next to the general penitentiary.
Our meeting started and ended with prayers and was a positive experience and we wished the school all the best.
Report prepared by Dorothy Noel (Mrs)
Member of Diocesan Education Committee, Deanery of St Andrew
June 17, 2019