Sociology Professor at New York University, Dr. Pedro Noguera (centre), making a point at the inaugural Barbados Students At Risk Conference, to Senior Psychologist in the Student Support Services Unit, Juanita Brathwaite (second right) while overseas facilitator and Founder of the ???Why Try??? model, Christian Moore (left, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); Senior Education Officer, Joy Adamson (second left, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); and ??Motivational Speaker from 20/20 Enterprises, Atlanta, Georgia, Keith Browne (right) look on. (A. Miller/BGIS)??

The old Erdiston Primary School at Pine Hill, St. Michael has been identified as the proposed site for an alternative educational institution for children considered at risk.

This was disclosed today by Senior Psychologist in the Students Support Services Unit, Juanita Brathwaite, following a press briefing at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre- the venue where the inaugural Barbados Students At Risk Conference is taking place.

Ms. Brathwaite said: "There is a proposal for the alternative school to open by the next school year, September 2013, for students who are having challenges in the traditional school setting, with constant suspension and on the verge of expulsion. The programme virtually is to provide support for such students.

"Many of them have learning difficulties and right now in the school system they might not have access to remedial classes in special education. The focus is going to be on individual education programming as well as social support counselling; family counselling and group counselling for myriad reasons. So, it is basically to assist them with the challenges they have been having."

Noting that parental support and family involvement were going to be critical components provided at this new school, the education official said the emphasis on the curriculum was going to follow the Caribbean Secondary Level Certificate of the CXC which basically looks at a core of academic subjects; a proposal which the Ministry has put forward for all secondary school children.

"So, these children are going to focus on that core curriculum as well as a number of vocational subjects. Information Technology and computer [studies] are going to be a big part of the programme as well as Performing Arts, and basically, we will be looking at the different intelligences and skills that these children possess because they are extremely talented. We will not only focus on the academics," Ms. Brathwaite stressed.

Disclosing that the Education Project Implementation Unit of the Ministry of Education was currently working on the facility, Ms. Brathwaite said the targeted number of children was approximately 60.

The facility is not expected to be similar to the Edna Nicholls Centre in St. Peter, where students only go for a maximum of two weeks and are offered a modular programme.?? Instead, it will look at where the child’s educational level and basically move them forward.

We are going to fit the programme around the child – individualised education is the focus," Ms. Brathwaite said.

Queried about how the facility would be staffed against the backdrop that the Student Support Services Unit is under resourced, Ms. Brathwaite noted, "The facility is going to have specialised education teachers who will focus on remediation and skills. Students will write CSEC (CXC).


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