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We will see more training initiatives getting underway with the development of the new learning communities

Hon. Alden McLaughlin

Published 4th May 2007, 4:55pm

Morale was boosted among Support Assistants and Teachers Aides last week when certificates were awarded to the 53 staff members attached to primary and special schools who participated in the in-service training programme jointly organised by the Department and Ministry of Education. The major goal of the In-Service Training was to assist these individuals, other teaching staff and the whole school system to work more effectively together in supporting all children and in particular children with different learning abilities. The training programme covered a spectrum of topics that addressed varying learning needs and abilities of students, how they learn and what makes learning difficult for them. It also covered the roles of support assistants and teachers' aides. Interactive and hands on training approaches were used alongside cutting edge research teaching and learning practices to train the educators. These approaches included proven strategies such as 'role playing' and the guided reading strategy to support students with emotional or behavioural challenges and reading difficulties. The in-service training programme was offered over a period of eight weeks by highly qualified specialist teachers, support staff and other school personnel who have worked very closely with children requiring learning support. Mrs. Margaret Garcia, Special Needs Education Officer at the Department of Education, coordinated and facilitated the training programme. Expressing her view on the success of the programme she said, "I was overwhelmed with the level of expertise, creativity, enthusiasm and dedication displayed by the majority of the participants during the sessions. They showed good application of skills and knowledge acquired both from the training programme as well as their experiences in the classroom. It was a very positive experience." She was keen to point out that the group will now have much more to offer students in terms of personal and professional skills. She also acknowledged the work of those who supported the programme by saying, "I would like to extend sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Education and the Education Department staff, facilitators and everyone else involved in making this programme such a successful learning experience." Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP, Minister of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture, was in full support of the training programme. He said, "This programme is indicative of our increasing focus on teacher training and development within the system. We recognise the vital role of these individuals in serving our students' needs, and we will see more training initiatives getting underway with the development of the new learning communities." A similar training programme for staff at Cayman Brac schools will commence on Friday May 4th.