The Principal of Princess Margaret School (PMS), Dr Colin Greene, said that the institution received no special treatment from the Ministry of Education to host its 5th form graduation last month.
“At no time did the Princess Margaret School request permission from the Ministry of Education, so there can’t be any story of preferential treatment from the Ministry of Education because no request was made of them,” Greene told Observer.
Persons had been using social media to raise the issue and even went as far as to insinuate that PMS was granted preferential treatment because Greene’s wife is the Deputy Director of Education.
Earlier this week, Ottos Comprehensive School (OCS) Principal Foster Roberts also expressed dissatisfaction about what he said was an “unfair” decision by the Ministry of Education to grant PMS permission to hold a drive-through graduation while refusing to extend that courtesy to other schools.
Roberts said he wrote directly to the Director of Education, Clare Browne, who told him that the Ministry of Education would not support any drive-through or face-to-face graduation ceremonies.
“Public school education has to be guided by the Ministry of Education so if you are going to bend the rule for one then it has to be for all. So, if we allow one school to have a drive thru then every other school should be able to have a drive-by or a drive-through,” Roberts reasoned.
However, Greene explained to Observer that the school never requested permission from the Ministry of Education to hold the event, since it is not required by law.
“I, as the principal never wrote to the Ministry of Education to request permission to have a graduation because that is not required by law, nor has it been required by statute. So, in the 18 years I have been a principal at Princess Margaret School, I have never written to the Ministry of Education to request permission to have a function,” he stated.
Greene said, however, that the school did acquaint the Ministry with its graduation plans and also ensured them that the health and safety of the students would be guaranteed.
He also presented the school’s plans for the graduation ceremony to the Ministry of Health to ensure that the ceremony “fell in line” with the existing Covid-19 protocols.
The principal said some adjustments had to be made after the consultation, but the Ministry of Health subsequently granted them the permission to host the graduation.
“We subsequently informed the Director of Education of the steps that the school had taken and forwarded him copies of the authorisation that school would have received from the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health subsequently wrote the Commissioner of Police to inform them, upon request from the school [that] permission was granted to hold the graduation,” Dr Greene further explained.
The Director of Education confirmed to Observer that during the Covid pandemic, the Ministry of Education will not support graduation ceremonies where persons will be encouraged to gather.
The ministry’s decision is based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) who Browne said was “very clear” that she did not support in-person ceremonies.
“We’re in the height of a pandemic and anything the Ministry of Health does not support, then the Ministry of Education does not support,” Browne maintained.
The rule, he said, is applicable to all schools on the island.
Meanwhile, the OCS principal said that he is “not prepared to look at a virtual [ceremony] when a precedence has already been set”.