Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Blazing Belmont - Model school makes big jump on latest CSEC rankings

Published:Tuesday | May 2, 2017 | 5:00 AM

Belmont Academy, the eight-year-old public high school from Westmoreland, has displaced schools established over a century ago in making the biggest leap on the latest ranking of schools with students leaving grade 11 with at least five subjects, including mathematics or English language.

Local think tank Educate Jamaica on Sunday published its 'Ivy League' ranking that is based on performances in the 2016 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams.

The St Andrew-based Campion College reclaimed the top spot from Immaculate Conception High, which had to settle for second place.

But the story of the rankings is how Belmont Academy came to be ranked 13th, improving 19 places over the 32rd position it held based on the 2015 results.

The school was established in 2009 as the first under the Government's Centre of Excellence programme. It started with close to 50 per cent of students reading below expected levels.

A lot of the credit for the turnaround has gone to Rayon Simpson, who took over as principal 2012, when, according to him, 14.8 per cent of the students were leaving the institution with five or more CSEC subjects, including maths or English language.

"When he left in December of 2016 to take up his new role at St Andrew Technical High School, 93 per cent of students at Belmont Academy left having achieved five or more subjects, inclusive of mathematics and/or English language," read a section of the ranking's report.

Simpson, the report said, "is one of the most creative and innovative educators currently in education in Jamaica" and his use of a peer-mentoring programme is chiefly responsible for the transformational results at Belmont.

Trelawny's Holland High, too, made a notable improvement. The school is now ranked 32, which is 11 places better than it was ranked the last time. Seventy-one per cent of its students graduated last year with at least five subjects, including mathematics or English language.

There are about 166 public high schools, but only 46 had 50 per cent or more of their CSEC cohort passing or meeting the criteria.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com