Government’s efforts to meet the needs of students considered "at risk" for failure in the education system will be outlined to stakeholders, when the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHR) hosts its inaugural?? Barbados Students ???at risk’ Conference 2012, from October 28 to 31, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC), Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.

The conference will see the Student Support Services Unit of the Ministry providing training to various levels of school personnel and support workers to address the needs of students experiencing (or presenting with) challenges that hamper the teaching/learning process. School principals and administrators will receive guidance as to the changes necessary to reform the education system and support the divergent needs of students, while parents and support workers will be empowered to prepare and motivate students who have challenges to realise success in their school endeavours.

Since its inception in 1997, the Student Support Services Unit has been dealing with cases of students who are ???at risk’ for school failure in myriad ways.?? Many of these students are unable to benefit from the educational product as delivered at their various institutions because of their prevailing personal risk factors.??

According to the Unit’s Senior Psychologist, Juanita Brathwaite, the effect of this is that these students are failing academically and are unable to cope with the rigours of the traditional school setting. ??Explaining further Ms. Brathwaite said: "This results in a number of students either being asked to leave school before they have reached the culmination of compulsory school age at 16,

or choosing, on their own volition, not to return due to the difficulties they face. Many of them enter adulthood without the necessary requisites to live a productive, self-sustaining life where they can be contributors to society in a meaningful way."

The Barbados Students ???at risk’ Conference 2012, is therefore, a response to the call for the training of educators, administrators and support workers to effectively address the diverse needs of students, especially those deemed to be ???at risk’. It also seeks to augment services and support systems so that they are readily available to students with challenges and so stem significant school failure.

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones will officially open the conference during a ceremony and reception at the LESC on Sunday, October 28, beginning from 6:00 p.m.

Workshops for educational administrators will commence on Monday, October 29, while those for educators will follow on Tuesday, October 30. On Wednesday, October 31, the conference will target support workers. Prior to these sessions, consultants will meet with Minister Jones on Friday, October 26 and there will be a Pre-conference Workshop for Parents, hosted by the National Committee for Parent Teachers Associations on Saturday, October 27.

Among the topics for discussion at the Barbados Students ???at risk’ Conference will be: Moving Children from Risks to Resilience; Ensuring Implementation and Sustainability of Reforms to Meet Students’ Success; The Introduction of an Alternative Education System in the Barbadian School System; Differentiating Instruction to Promote Students’ Needs; Strategies that Work with Difficult Students ???and Designing a National Framework to Support Students at Risk.

Senior Education Officers, Joy Adamson and Dr. Roderick Rudder will lead a team of Ministry officials in facilitating the training. These include Senior Psychologist, Juanita Brathwaite; Education Officer, Janice Reid, and Attendance Officer, John Hollingsworth. There will also be representatives from the University of the West Indies (School of Continuing Education, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); Juvenile Liaison Scheme, National HIV/AIDS Commission, PAREDOS, The ADHD Resource Center and the Child Care Board.

The conference will also see the inclusion of three overseas consultants, namely Dr Pedro Noguera (Professor New York University), an expert on school reform and school leadership; Keith Brown, a motivational speaker; and Christian Moore, Professional Social Worker and Creator of the "Why Try" Intervention Model for at risk students and the "Why Try" organisation.??


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