More agencies are being urged to follow the example of The Sandy Lane Trust and assist the Ministry of Education with its Secondary Summer School programme.

Secondary Summer School is held every year to aid first to third form students, who have exhibited weaknesses in core subjects like Mathematics, English, Social Studies and Integrated Science. Its aim is to reduce learning deficits and to enhance student performance.

The appeal came today from Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Harry Husbands, as he led a team of officials on a tour of the St. George Secondary School, one of the venues for the programme.

Senator Husbands, speaking in the presence of two counsellors provided by the Trust said: ???When we consider that agencies such as the Sandy Lane Trust have stepped forward to assist the programme, we could imagine in future programmes similar contributions from the private sector or funding agencies to allow us to expand.???

Queried about plans to expand the programme, although it is being held at one centre short of previous years, the Parliamentary Secretary said this year saw fewer students and there were financial constraints and some logistical problems, such as ???notification???, which the Ministry was working on ???ironing out???.

He was, however, quick to caution against how far such expansion should go. ???One of the things about expansion is that you have to be careful because you really want to offer specialised individual attention as much as possible. So, when you say expand, it is not to turn it into a repeat of the school year, but to have children benefit from greater one-on-one teaching and coaching,??? Senator Husbands said.

Senior Education Officer (Secondary Schools), Fernando Carter, in echoing similar sentiments, stressed that there were opportunities for the public and private sector to contribute to the Secondary Summer School. He stated that any sponsorship from the private sector towards the children would be welcomed.

Mr. Carter also spoke about the programme???s success, noting that from the feedback from students, parents and teachers it had made a difference. ???You must recognise that students are coming from different types of schools and the criteria we were utilising would have been students who would have been performing [at] less than 35 per cent throughout the year.

???But generally, if we were to go by our assessments at the end of the programme, most of those students would have improved on that previous performance. What we would love to do in the future, if the school would provide us with that information, would be to be able to track those students after they return to their substantive schools, to see whether or not that improvement has been sustained,??? he explained.

The centre at St. George Secondary School has nine facilitators and is using different methodologies to encourage the students ???to want to take part in school???. This is according to coordinator, Dr. Dawn Taylor, who agreed the programme was ???an excellent one???.

???It allows children who may sit with 30 to 34 students a year to get a more attentive teacher who can focus a bit more on what their specific challenges may be,??? she said. Dr. Taylor added that by addressing the core subjects of Science, Social Studies, English and Mathematics, the summer school programme was aiding students, as they move to write the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence, which replaces the Barbados School Leaving Certificate.

???These subjects would be important for the children to pass. So, students would leave school with a certificate which says to the Barbadian public I am competent in these specific subject areas,??? Dr. Taylor said.

The centre at St. George Secondary is currently hosting 61 students, including students from the school and those from Alleyne, Parkinson and Grantley Adams Memorial Schools.

Secondary Summer School 2013 is also being held at Christ Church Foundation, Ellerslie and Frederick Smith Secondary Schools.

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