Feature: SPBMP Pilot Schools Making Strides

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Students helping to create murals at Workman’s Primary School. (N.Lynch)??

Whether it’s the signage at the gate announcing Coleridge and Parry Secondary School as a model of the Schools’ Positive Behaviour Management Programme (SPBMP), the colour wheel of discipline at Workman’s Primary School, or murals displaying positive messages at Milton Lynch Primary School, it’s clear that SPBMP pilot schools are putting more child-centered principles into practice.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) saw this first hand when they toured these schools recently to observe how the approach was being integrated into the classroom.??

The SPBMP, which Barbados originally signed on to as the "Child-Friendly Schools" initiative, emphasises the multi-dimensional needs of the child.?? According to?? UNICEF:?? "A child-centred school acts in the best interest of the child, leading to the realisation of the child’s full potential and is concerned about the whole child, (including his/her health, nutritional status and well-being) and about what happens to children – in their families and communities – before they enter school, and after they leave it."

Since the formal pilot, Changing the Classroom Culture, began at the Hillaby-Turner’s Hall Primary School in Barbados in October 2006, the initiative was introduced to other schools at the annual Caribbean Union of Teachers’ Conference held in Barbados in 2007.?? Widespread interest led to regional expansion, with pilots unfolding at the T.N. Kiron School in Antigua and the, Fond Assau Primary and Bocage Secondary Schools in St. Lucia. In Barbados, the programme is now in place at 33 schools including 12 Government Secondary schools, one private secondary and one private primary school.??

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Principal of the Coleridge and Parry School, Vincent Fergusson (right) in discussion with Chief of Education at the UNICEF Office of the Eastern Caribbean Area, Wycliffe Otieno.??(R. Woodroofe)

Upon arriving at the Coleridge and Parry School in St. Peter, the officials saw a poster at the school’s main gate, welcoming them to a SPBMP school.?? Principal, Vincent Fergusson and Deputy Principal, Alva Hood, pointed out that the programme, in place for close to two years at the first form level, had already reaped rewards.?? For instance, they pointed out that punctuality and attitudes had improved as a result of the programme.

"My school embraces three tenets of the SPBMP.?? One is respectfulness- respect towards each other and respect for authority; the importance of punctuality and striving for excellence… and the entire school is embraced… I recommend this programme for any other school.?? The students in the first form are excited about it and I dare say, having done a survey on it, all of our children would want to be on board in this programme," Mr. Hood said.??

The school also boasts a Peace Park, designed to perpetuate respect for peers, property and the flora, which were planted by the students.?? Extensive signage is displayed throughout the school in three languages – English, Spanish and French.?? Pupils are aware of the expectations of their teachers and every class has a motto, which has been derived from inspirational quotes from prominent orators. And, the children know and can recite and explain these maxims.?? Additionally, all of the teachers have been sensitised and the student councils are currently being rebuilt.????

The school has also designed a rubric as part of its monitoring programme.?? It includes Below Standard, which accounts for zero points, Basic which denotes one point and Proficient where two points are awarded. "All of our children so far, have been making the basic or the proficiency standard.

They are graded on academic performance, deportment special mention, arts and sports, punctuality and respectfulness, and students who achieve the maximum of 36 points qualify to make the principals honour roll, which is designed to encourage positive behaviours," the Deputy Principal outlined.??????????????

First form student of Coleridge and Parry, Ossie Ann Joe, was happy to be a part of the SPBMP. "I think that the programme is good because the teachers are trying to promote something that is good for the younger students… It has made us think about excellence in terms of setting goals.?? We strive to get to school early, get to class early and if we have a project or homework, we try to bring it in as soon as possible or try to finish it before the due date," she stated.

Over at Workman’s Primary in St. George, the staff has started a pictorial Student of the Month system for each form level based on academics and extra-curricular activities.?? "The school has also been adorned with motivating murals and footsteps for the children to follow to encourage them to traverse the school in a more orderly way," pointed out Dwayne Carter, team leader for the SPBMP programme and Information Technology Coordinator and Physical Education teacher at the school.

The Colour Wheel is in use at the school and students are assigned a wooden clothes peg with their name written on it. The pegs begin each day in the green section, but if a student misbehaves he or she is asked to move that peg to the yellow section, which denotes a warning that their behaviour must improve. If the student rectifies his/her behavior and maintains the appropriate standard, the peg may revert to green. However, if the student’s behaviour continues or another infraction occurs, the peg is moved to blue (which includes a consequence).

After that level is red and the teacher must complete an office referral following which the child is sent to an administrator for a more severe consequence.????

The touring party witnessed the pupils reciting the "Be-attitudes", which they say every morning at full assembly and after break and lunch. ??It asserts:?? "Be wise, Be willing, Be workers, Be winners, Be Workmans!"

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Some of the murals that now beautify the Milton Lynch Primary School. N. Lynch)

The officials also visited Milton Lynch Primary School in Water Street, Christ Church, which has also been transformed with paintings that emphasise positive messages.?? The school’s current focus is on developing strong links between the home and the community, specifically with fathers.?? According to Principal, Anthony Graham, "it is better to build strong boys than to repair broken men.?? That was the main motivation behind our focus on Family Matters:?? Our Family Trees/Father’s Week Project."??

He noted that other than beautifying the school, his team encouraged positive behaviour by creating systems that encourage participation by fathers in the lives of their sons.?? Mr. Graham remarked that it was the main area of concern for the school and fathers are encouraged to attend and participate in Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meetings and other aspects of the student’s lives. While he deemed the institution’s Bring Your Father to School Day, held on May 24, as a success, he admitted that the school’s management would like to see equal enthusiasm transferred to attending regular PTA meetings.

Chief of Education at the UNICEF Office of the Eastern Caribbean Area, Wycliffe Otieno, observed that schools in Barbados were clearly reaping benefits from the focus on positive behavioural management.

"They are also striving to improve the learning environment for children by placing greater emphasis on strategies to ensure that all children regardless of sex, aptitude or learning style are able to benefit optimally from their school experience. Parental support in children’s learning is a critical part of this and the efforts being made by teachers of Milton Lynch Primary in reaching out to fathers are very commendable. UNICEF encourages these initiatives in schools and will continue to work with the Ministry of Education in this regard," he pledged.

Adolescent and HIV/AIDS Specialist with UNICEF, Elaine King, expressed her pleasure at the team approach at Coleridge and Parry. "The conduct of a simple needs assessment identified some key areas of focus to improve student behaviours. Certainly, the already marked improvement in punctuality is evidence that the new behavioural strategies being used are effective", she said.

The implementation of the SPBMP is not expected to be a quick fix to all the challenges that our children face, however, documentation has shown that students who are a part of the programme are more settled, are choosing less violent means to resolve conflict and the school environment is generally more productive. For more information on the programme, persons may contact Janice Reid or Undine Shorey at the Ministry of Education at 430-2700, or Nicole Lynch at nicolenlynch12@gmail.com.

lisa.bayley@barbados.gov.bb

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