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School leaders need to be more aware - Foster-Allen

Published:Monday | January 19, 2015 | 1:00 AM

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Elaine Foster-Allen, has called for schools to be more strident in their leadership roles, in order to stem disciplinary issues within schools.

Speaking with The Gleaner last week following reports from the Safe Schools branch of a smooth start for the beginning of the new school term, she said she was grateful for the news but encouraged principals to pay attention to the small things.

"I am not saying that there is lack in leadership, but our leaders must be aware. There are some schools in which we would want to see greater involvement of our principals and teachers in terms of strengthening school rules, discipline and behaviour," she declared.

"Believe it or not, if you don't have a firm context in which teaching and learning is to take place, you are going to have problems. Whenever you go into a classroom, you must ensure that there is law and order before you start teaching," Foster-Allen continued.

Making reference to recent incidents in which a number of students were sent home for wearing the incorrect uniform, she said it is imperative that wisdom is applied in whatever decisions are made.

"Rules cannot be just black and white. They must make sense and students must be clear on what is going on. I don't have the evidence to say that principals are not standing up to their responsibilities, but what I do know is that it's the small things sometimes that can create havoc," she said.

"A number of our schools have rules that are ambiguous and coached in a negative language, and going forward we have to ensure that as leaders we are clear and strident in what we do," Foster Allen told The Gleaner.

Leadership training

Director of safety and security in Schools in the Ministry of Education, Sergeant Coleridge Minto, also said a lot of training has been taking place at the leadership level.

"It's important that we have strong leadership and so we brought all our deans of discipline together to ensure that they are properly trained, all in the name of preparing them for the new school year and making sure that they understand things from a different perspective," he said.

"We have been reaping success because for us we want to ensure that those who govern our students are equipped and ready to take on the challenges."