The 2013 Guide on Government Secondary Schools is now in the hands of parents and guardians whose children will take the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE), on Tuesday, May 7.
And, they are encouraged to read the document which was published by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and contains, among others, a synopsis of the history, curriculum and extra-curricular activities of the island’s 22 public secondary schools.
??Schools which were recently renamed are listed in the text. These are the Darryl Jordan Secondary, formerly St. Lucy Secondary; Frederick Smith Secondary, formerly St. James Secondary; and the Graydon Sealy Secondary, previously the Garrison Secondary School.
A message by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, extends "best wishes" to the children and congratulates them for "reaching the end of your primary education". And, it reminds parents of their supportive role in the process that will move their charges from examination to secondary schooling.
Mr. Jones said: "You must take into consideration the differing abilities of your children and treat them as worthy of your continued support. Children take the cue from their parents as to the expectations they have of them and for them.
"If parents and other adults have low expectations then the resulting effect can be the realisation of unsatisfactory results and the opposite can also occur. Remember that we at the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development believe that each of our children truly matters."
Minister Jones has appealed to parents to ensure children are adequately prepared to take the May examination. "If your child has done the work then the examination will not present any problems," the Education Minister stressed.
Parents are further reminded that all schools present an equal opportunity for education to take place and children manifest different learning styles and will mature at dissimilar rates.
"Let us celebrate all of them as our children and our citizens.?? You must also remember it is not where you are allocated that is important, but rather what you accomplish while you are there. Schools will vary in location, but all offer the same core curriculum," Minister Jones emphasised.
The message also highlights two important changes at the secondary level, which children will encounter. These two additional modes of certification. the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence, which all students are required to complete, and for those who are technically minded, the Caribbean Vocational Qualification.
The publication, like the familiarisation sessions, currently available this month at schools across the island, gives insight into the many processes involved and challenges encountered in the administration of the BSSEE, familiarly known as the Common Entrance Examination or 11-Plus. It offers details on flexible transfer; and partial zoning with information on the three zones into which schools fall; and requirements for candidates with special needs, as well as non-national students.?? The document also offers information on individual secondary schools and provides templates of forms, including the Choice of School, associated with the 11-Plus.
??While it is noted that the majority of students who write the Common Entrance Examination, must be 11 years or under 12 by August 31 in the year of the examination, provision is made for children to sit at an even earlier age.?? According to the Guide, under the Flexible Transfer System, pupils who will be at least nine years old but under 11 on August 31, 2013 may write the May 2013 examination.
However, the Ministry maintains that such pupils should have covered the syllabus and be considered "ready" by their Principal and respective teachers. Additionally, they should have consistently scored 85 per cent and over in both English and Mathematics in the previous six consecutive terms preceding the academic year in which the student is seeking to write the 11-Plus. These marks are usually taken from the end of term tests, and submitted for assessment by the Ministry of Education.
Parents are, nonetheless, cautioned that "being in Class 4 does not mean that a pupil will be allowed to write the examination outside of the customary age".
With respect to requests for deferrals, the Guide clearly states that pupils who will be 11 years old by August 31, 2013, may be recommended to defer the examination for one year, in this case until May 2014, if in the opinion of the Principal, the pupil stands to benefit from the extra year. However, a certain combination of conditions must exist. Pupils must have consistently scored 20 per cent or less in both English and Mathematics over six proceeding terms, and missed a significant portion of their tuition as a result of trauma or illness and possess substantial learning difficulties diagnosed by an appropriate professional over a one-year period.
Moreover, students who will be 11 years, but under 12 at August 31 in the year of the 11-Plus, and are working in Class 3 with the nine-year old cohort will be allowed to continue with that group and write the examination with them in the following year. Pupils in this category will, however, not be eligible for a deferral on reaching Class 4. The Ministry has, however, advised that pupils, whether they write the examination under 11 years or defer writing it for one year, will be able to write the examination only once.??
Perhaps the aspect of the 2013 Guide which should prove of interest to parents is the Choice of School form. The Guide reminds them that there are only two open choices where parents will be allowed to choose a maximum of two schools from anywhere in the island (including the zone in which the child resides). Following this, a maximum of seven schools may be selected from the secondary schools within the zone in which the child resides. A school in the Open choices cannot be repeated among the Choices from Zone category.
The Ministry has set a deadline of Friday, February 1, for the return of this important form. They must be handed in to primary school principals by Friday, February 8.??
With about three weeks away before this is done, Ministry officials are reminding parents of the significance of the 2013 Guide, and have urged them to choose schools wisely since there will be no re-allocation of students at the first form level.??