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This meeting provides parents with the forum to contribute ideas and insight, which will help us resolve those issues quickly and effectively.

Hon. Alden McLaughlin

Published 12th October 2006, 6:4pm

The Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture is inviting parents of school children to attend a public meeting with Special Educational Needs (SEN) expert, Brent Holt, to discuss requirements and provisions of special needs in Cayman's schools. The meeting will take place at the assembly hall at Prospect Primary School on Wednesday, 18th October, at 5:30pm. It will launch the Ministry's initiative to address an urgent requirement among schools to enhance the delivery of services to students with special needs. During the 2005 national education conference nearly three quarters of delegates recognized the need for reform of special needs provisions. Some of the specific areas requiring improvement have been identified by the Ministry as being: the referral process, the identification of needs, access to services and timely provision. The Ministry has acquired the services of Brent Holt, a leading expert in the field with hands-on experience of schools in the Cayman Islands, to lead a full review of special needs throughout all local government schools. The review is expected to entail visits to schools and liaison with senior officials in various facets of the education system. Policies and processes will come under scrutiny, as will the existing provision of resources. The review will culminate in a full consultation report to the Ministry, which will include evaluation of data, interpretation of findings, and recommendations for the improvement of special needs and education psychology programmes. This report is expected to be ready by the end of the year, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP, Minister of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture, is urging parents to attend the meeting. He said, "We know how important the issue of Special Needs is, and we know it impacts upon a good many students and parents. This meeting provides those parents with the forum to contribute ideas and insight, which will help us resolve those issues quickly and effectively." Mr. Holt, comes with an impressive array of qualifications and experience, which suit him to the task at hand. He is the Interim Executive Director for Exceptional Education for Tuscon Unified School District in Arizona, which comprises over 60,000 students. There he is also Lead Psychologist providing executive level leadership for over 50 school psychologists, whose expertise spans a wide range of disciplines. Mr. Holt also demonstrates intimacy with Cayman's own particular needs, owing to his experience serving as an Educational Psychologist to the Cayman Islands Government during the demanding times of Hurricane Ivan in the 2004/2005 school year. Anyone who is unable to attend the meeting can still contribute by sending an email to Mr. Gareth Long, Strategic Development Advisor (Education), at the Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture, at gareth.long@gov.ky.