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By Carlena Knight

Grade Six students and their parents will soon learn which secondary school they will be attending come September, as the placement list will be released early in July.

This was revealed by Director of Education Clare Browne who said that the new selection system put in place due to Covid-19 is now being finalised.

“I want to ensure the public that the ministry is sticking to the placement system implemented,” Browne said. “I spoke with the Assistant Director of Measurement and Evaluation, Ineta Francis, yesterday and I inquired of where we are in this process and she [told] me that most of the schools met the May 31 deadline and the one or two that didn’t were also included.

“The placement document is being worked on and the Assistant Director of Education has assured me that we are in the advanced stages of putting that document together … and so in the first week in July … the Ministry of Education assures that those placements will be made public.”

The Grade Six National Assessment had to be cancelled this year following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced all schools in the country to be closed in mid-March. This prompted the Ministry of Education to create new placement criteria.

Primary schools were asked to give the names of their top four male and female students along with their grades while in Grade Six. This list would then be evaluated and, based on the top scores, the first 100 would be granted a place at either the Antigua Girls’ High School (AGHS) or the Antigua Grammar School (AGS). Other students would be placed based on their home address and other factors.

Browne added that the reopening date for all schools is still set for September.

To date, only CSEC and CAPE students have returned to school to prepare for the regional exams, and in preparation for the new school year, the ministry indicated that by the end of July, it will be laying out a comprehensive plan on the various measures and protocols to be implemented.

Also, principals and teachers are being trained in the use of online teaching platforms such as Google Classroom. This, Browne says, is a programme that will in the future have to include students and parents.

Another plan mentioned was the Learning Recovery Plan which will focus on addressing the learning gaps that have occurred due to teachers having to work through online platforms.

“At some point, the Assistant Director of Education with responsibility for Curriculum, Mrs Beverly Allen, and her team of curriculum officers will share what exactly that plan is but, in a nutshell, the Learning Recovery Plan is a plan of assessing what gaps students might have in their learning and plan to come up with a clear strategy of filling those gaps as we continue forward,” the Director of Education said.

“Obviously, through surveys, through testing and so on, we will have to see where those gaps are and come up with strategies, targeted approaches that will help to fill those gaps because we know there are gaps.”

Browne said it is evident that a blended approach will be needed to pave the way forward for education in the country.

“We are operating in a new normal. There are going to be differences. School will not be the same prior to how it was before March 13th when we shut the doors, but we will have school. Our students will continue to receive a quality education,” he added.

He thanked the Board of Education, principals, teachers and students for their efforts thus far in ensuring that education in the country continues.

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