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Push for transfers if necessary - ministry

Published:Tuesday | June 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Education is advising parents who are unhappy with the schools at which their children have been placed following the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) that the onus is on them to seek transfers for such students.

In response to a report carried in The Gleaner yesterday, Dr Grace McLean, chief education officer, advised that it was the responsibility of parents to contact schools that are willing to accept their children.

In its release, the ministry also denied that Juana Lee Cunningham, of Lluidas Vale Primary School in St Catherine, had been placed at St Hugh's High School in Kingston despite not selecting the institution as one of her preferred schools.

Cunningham had told The Gleaner she was unhappy with her placement at St Hugh's, as it was miles from her residence and she wanted to go to a school closer to home.

While stating that its records indicated that Cunningham's first choice was St Hugh's, the ministry said it was willing to grant her a transfer closer to home.

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites had told The Gleaner on Sunday that cases such as that reported by Cunningham could have been possible as computers are responsible for placing 80 per cent of GSAT students.

In a letter published in The Gleaner yesterday one parent, herself an educator, complained that her child was emotionally distressed after she was not placed at any of her five selected schools, despite scoring two 95s, 96, 98 and 11/12.

'Computer glitch'

However, the parent, Christine Hepburn-Thomas, told The Gleaner that the ministry informed her after her letter was published that the incorrect placement was "due to a computer glitch somewhere there".

She said, after contacting the ministry, she was informed about the necessary appeal channels and that the irregularity has been corrected and her child should be attending her school of choice come September.

Byron Buckley, director of corporate communications in the education ministry, said he has not been informed of any glitches with the system and that a meeting was held earlier yesterday at the ministry to discuss GSAT-related issues.

Buckley pointed out, however, that such issues could easily be rectified, much like Cunningham's, as those are clear reasons for which transfers could be granted as they reflected genuine concerns.