Principals of primary and secondary schools were today reminded about relevant sections of the Education Act and urged to pay full attention to these, during the new academic year 2014-2015.

The words of advice were issued by Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones as he held his Annual Conversation with Principals at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill.

Speaking on the topic: Confronting Realities, Building Excellence and Engaging the Future, Minister Jones told principals that there was a hierarchical system of school governance in Barbados and responsibility started at the top of the system with the Chief Education Officer (CEO) followed by the Deputy CEOs and Principals, Senior Teachers and teachers in that order.

???I understand quite well your struggles in the trenches to educate a nation. I understand the work of the Chief Education Officer as the chief pedagogue responsible for education??? the work of the Deputy Chiefs and the Permanent Secretary,??? he said.

Stating that the responsibilities of principals were generally the same at all levels of the system, whether nursery, primary or secondary, the Minister said that at times there appeared to be some confusion about roles, but it was the principal who must determine the school???s programme.

He added that this programme did not exist in isolation but within the context of a national curriculum and as such, principals needed to develop their schools??? programmes from that.

Stressing that he was not addressing extra-curricular activities or empowerment activities in the school, which were encouraged, he said ???if a principal is determined to introduce something [new] into the school???s programme that is not part of the national curriculum, there must be consultation, first, not with teachers, but with the Chief Education Officer, who must then seek the advice and sign off of the Minister.???

???That???s what has to happen,??? said Mr. Jones noting that the principal must also determine the programme after consultation with the teachers and parents or guardians of the pupils, where it is expedient to do so. He therefore impressed upon principals that they must always find time to share their goals and objectives with their important constituents.

The Education Minister also stressed the need for principals to align the duties allocated to staff with their roles and responsibilities. He expressed the opinion that any responsible teacher who cared about his/her school would become part of the environment and would be able to do some supervision and find resources to help improve the overall efficacy of the school.

???There are many leaders of the school,??? emphasised Minster Jones noting that some teachers were resourceful and there was no need for principals to feel their role or responsibility was diminished as a result of delegating. New principals were congratulated on their appointments and all were wished the best for the academic year 2014-2015.

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