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Education ministry to process 500 transfer requests

Published:Tuesday | June 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Education has received 500 transfer requests for students placed at high schools based on their performance in this year's Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

From Region One, the ministry said it received 200 requests, the largest number on record.

"Approximately 10 per cent of the transfer cases are based on the distance between school and home. Other reasons include students not getting any of their choices, relocation of parents, and students/parents not being pleased with the placement," the release added.

Opposition Spokesperson on Education Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has raised concerns about the move by the ministry to increase the number of transfers.

"The first major question that it raises for me is: How will this work? I look at this from two perspectives: one is how is it going to work from a placement perspective, because secondary schools are not evenly distributed across the island; so has the ministry worked out what number of places are actually available based on where children live?" she asked.




The education spokesperson also challenged the rationale behind a policy of increased transfers based on distance.

"I am concerned about the focus on transfers for students that are far, because as far as I understand, those cases are anomalous or by choice. They are not the cases where general placement has mandated that kids have to travel very far," she argued.

She also called for the ministry to make public what study was done which attributes low attendance to distance.

"Approximately 75 per cent of students who sat the GSAT this year will be placed in high schools of their choice based on their grade performance," the release from the Ministry of Education said.

Johnson Smith questioned if transfers would be afforded to parents who are unhappy with the placement of their child at a particular school. She went on to point out the administrative challenges associated with transfers.

"If it is that this segment of students - upwards of 10,000 or 15,000 students - don't get their first five choices, if they had previously been placed from an automatic process, does the ministry have the staff to now go and do manual placement of these individuals? This does not seem to be well thought out. If it were thought out, schools and parents would have been communicated with already," she said.