Wide-ranging decisions for exams, SBAs at secondary schools

Last Updated on Monday, 11 September 2023, 14:09 by Denis Chabrol

The Maureen Massiah wing of The Bishops’ High School.

Secondary school students would now be allowed to cross-stream, and they would no longer have to rewrite exams in 5th Form, Education Minister Priya Manickchand announced on Monday.

She told a ceremony to formally open the Maureen Massiah wing of The Bishops’ High School that the directives would be circulated to secondary schools shortly.

Ms Manickchand said, “all the national schools and all the List ‘A’ schools will allow cross-streaming”, explaining that, for instance, Science stream students would be allowed to study Arts to the exam level.

She also said that from this year, 4th Form students, once willing and eligible, would be allowed to write Mathematics, English, Literature, one Foreign Language and possibly Electronic Documentation, Preparation and Management (EDPM).

“Again, it’s not a mandatory thing. It is for a very small number of students,” she said.

Deeming as “some strange miscommunication” over the years that students who have written Mathematics in Form 4 were told that they had to rewrite them in 5th Form to allow for matriculation at ‘A’ grade.  “That’s not the policy of the ministry. It is not the policy of CXC, the examining body so that;s going to be made clearly in a national circular or memo,” she said.

In that regard, she clearly stated that, “students can write subjects in 4th Form and not repeat them in 5th Form, to reduce their load in 5th Form.”

The Minister of Education, noting that only a maximum of 300 students write 12 or more subjects, encouraged children to write more subjects if they have the capacity to do so. “I believe that some students can and where students they can be accommodated and allowed to,” she said.

Ms Manickchand said in response to her query about the rationale for “loading kids up” with 18 School-Based Assessments (SBAs) in one subject, she said the regional examining body informed her that they needed a more practical exposure and deeper love for the subject instead of a paper-pencil approach. The Minister said she met with a number of Heads of Science Departments and they decided to have them done in Form 3. “We know that has implications for staff and supervision and marking. We are addressing all of that,” she added.

The Maureen Massiah wing of The Bishops’ High School will house 1st Form students and the canteen.

School Principal, Shandrina Welcome-Lee told the commissioning ceremony that the new GY$95.4 million new wing was named to honour one of the “most influential and long-serving principals” of The Bishops’ High School.  Reverend Maureen Massiah served that school as its principal from 1987-2002.