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Front row, left to right: Chief Officer for Education Mrs. Mary Rodrigues, Minister for Education Hon. Tara Rivers and ECCE’s new Senior Policy Advisor & Manager Mrs. Carol Bennett. Back row, left to right: Outgoing Manager of ECCE Ms Julie Madgwick and ECCE Officers Mrs. Reneé Barnes and Mrs. April Tibbetts.

Published 4th July 2013, 10:38am

Caymanian, Mrs. Carol Bennett, is the new head of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Unit, in the Ministry of Education. Mrs. Bennett replaces Ms. Julie Madgwick, who helped to establish the unit and drive an ambitious agenda for the development of early childhood care and education in the Cayman Islands since May 2011.

Mrs. Bennett is a founding member of the ECCE unit, and has led many projects in her initial role as Early Childhood Care and Education Officer, working within the ECCE centres and schools to provide ongoing technical assistance and professional development and training for school and centre staff. She also has a wealth of experience working in the Cayman Islands as an Early Intervention Teacher and Coordinator. While conducting this work, Mrs. Bennett also trained paraprofessionals in her role as adjunct lecturer for the University College of the Cayman Islands.

Mrs. Bennett shared her excitement about the appointment: “I am privileged to have the opportunity to work in an area that has such a direct impact on the future of our country. The last few years have been an exciting time for Early Childhood Care and Education in the Cayman Islands, and our Unit will endeavour to meet the goals set in our strategic plan and make changes that will improve the quality of provision for all young children in Cayman, to ensure they have a better opportunity to become life-long learners and productive future citizens of our country”.

New Education Minister, the Hon. Tara Rivers, affirms that, under her leadership, Early Childhood Care and Education will continue to be a key area of priority: “The importance of quality early childhood care and education provision is integral to the development of young children. Research shows that quality, experiential learning opportunities which involve problem solving, socialization and reflection helps to build firm foundations for further learning and development. As leaders and policy makers, we must ensure that quality standards are set and maintained in all our early childhood centres which cater to our youngest citizens,” Ms. Rivers stated.

Since its establishment in May 2011, the Unit has made progress in important areas. These include, the development and piloting of the Cayman Islands Early Years Curriculum Framework; providing targeted training for untrained practitioners; supporting private and Government ECCE centres and schools through training and support visits; the establishment of Reception programmes in three more Government schools; the preparation of a law amendment to include early childhood care and education in the Education Law; establishment of an interactive parent blog and a newsletter to ECCE centres; developing and facilitating parent education sessions in ECCE centres and schools; and offering financial support to families and ECCE centres through improvements to the management of the Early Childhood Assistance Programme. Within the past month, the Education Quality Assurance Unit has also completed inspections in the early childhood care and education centres. These inspections will help with planning for each centre and guide the ECCE Unit when developing further training and assistance.

Ms. Madgwick noted that the teamwork of the Unit and the desire of early childhood owners, teachers and practitioners to improve were critical for the progress that has already been made, and will continue to be critical for the work that remains, in order to raise standards.

“I have really enjoyed my time in Cayman working alongside a dedicated team to support improvement in the early childhood sector. I have very much appreciated the willingness of the early childhood stakeholders to work with the Unit and welcome our support as they have done. We all have the best interests of children foremost in our work. The Unit has set in place a plan that should guide their work in the future and I know that with Mrs. Carol Bennett at the helm, ably supported by Mrs. Reneé Barnes and Mrs. April Tibbetts, the future of early childhood care and education in Cayman is in very safe hands,” Ms. Madgwick noted.