Sixth Forms a Significant Step in Education

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Some of the first set of Lower Sixth Formers of the Christ Church Foundation School with Senior Teacher/Year Head, Dr. Bartlett (far left) at yesterday’s ceremony to welcome the first cohorts of Sixth Formers at the Christ Church Foundation School, Church Hill. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The recent introduction of sixth forms at two secondary schools has been deemed a "significant step" as the Ministry of Education seeks to provide more educational opportunities for secondary school students.

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, stressed this yesterday, as he addressed the media, following the formal introduction of the Sixth Form at the Christ Church Foundation School (CCFS) in Church Hill.

He remarked: "When you see the number of students who are in fact gaining more and more CSECs [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificates] along with the quality of the grades… then it means that we have to continue to expand …secondary education… both in the sixth form schools and the BCC [Barbados Community College]."

This year, the CCFS and The St. Michael School at Martindales Road, St. Michael, joined the list of sixth form schools on the island, bringing the number to six. The other sixth form schools are Harrison College, Queen’s College, Combermere and The Lodge School.

While noting that there had been some 1,700 applications this year for sixth forms alone, Mr. Jones said, "We would have only been able to take just slightly over 600; that would have been 32 to 33 per cent of the numbers who were trying to get into sixth form schools."

According to him, an examination of the results was ongoing and the Ministry would continue to analyse the intake of students in the sixth forms and the BCC, as well as the number of students who would have been left out this year.

Mr. Jones explained: "We will look at that and see what [numbers] the BCC was able to accept in their Associate Degree or Degree programmes, as well as those who might not have been successful in gaining entry to the University of the West Indies [UWI].

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones chats with some of the Lower Sixth Formers of the Christ Church Foundation School at yesterday’s ceremony to welcome the first cohorts of Sixth Formers at the Christ Church Foundation School, Church Hill. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

"I would want a system where more and more students go into the UWI at a higher level of matriculation. In other words, both with the Associate Degree and with CAPE certification so that the journey would be better and they would have had at least two years of solid education and training in those institutions."

He added: "Cave Hill or the UWI would be better able to respond to the varying needs of that student population. So, we still have some way to go. I can tell you that any new secondary school which is built will already be equipped for [a] sixth form. We are looking at one new secondary school in the south, which will have a sixth form component.

"We will look, as well, this year at the CSEC results of students in their various schools. We are almost finished with that analysis; to see what we will have to do to make sure that the demand for education at sixth form and post secondary level can be accommodated."

The Education Minister, a former teacher, maintained that the two sixth forms were "an important endeavour in the educational journey for students in Barbados" and noted that it would be two years before analysis of sixth form results at the CCFS and The St. Michael School could be known.

Mr. Jones acknowledged, however, that the Ministry was still addressing the accommodation needs of both.?? Of the Christ Church School he said, "We have to make a two year journey…here at Foundation, there is a need for some infrastructure and we hope to move on that as soon as we can; remember that the technical vocational wing at Foundation was burnt down some years ago. We have the concept design for sixth

form here to be accommodated… [where we would] move to a dedicated sixth form

level classroom, of at least about four or so, as well as the technical block below; so that would be a two-storey facility which we have to construct here at Foundation."

In the case of the St. Michael School, Mr. Jones indicated that the Ministry was able "to put in about six classrooms out of timber to facilitate that exercise."

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