By Lindsey Turnbull
A special assembly took place last week to highlight a milestone in the development of John Gray High School, its recent ‘Good’ rating given by the Office of Education Standards (OES) in its most recent assessment of the school. The ‘Good’ rating - which means the school meets the expected level for any school in Cayman - came from the OES’ report from April of this year and was a remarkable improvement on the ‘Satisfactory’ (the minimum level of quality) rating it received in its previous review, which resulted from an inspection in October 2018.
Other ratings that a Cayman school can achieve are ‘Excellent’, demonstrating an exceptionally high quality of performance or practice and ‘Weak’, whereby the school is not at the level acceptable for schools in the Cayman Islands.
A ‘Good’ report
The April 2021 OES report cited many areas where the school, which currently has 1,100 students, has improved, particularly when it came to attainment and progress, which it attributed to focused teaching, mentoring and good use of students’ assessment data.
“Students displayed positive behaviour around the school and in lessons. The broad range of curriculum and extra curricula activities enrich students’ educational experience. Civic and environmental understanding are promoted well by the school and, as a result, students understand and are proud of the distinctive features of Caymanian life and its relation to local and global environmental issues,” the report indicated, pointing out in particular, “There is excellent leadership with exceptional student leadership.”
Recommendations for improvements included raising attainment levels for low ability students, strengthening communication between school and home and increasing the use of new technology to facilitate contact between parents and the school.
The report noted that students were getting better results across the curriculum, including in Maths, English and science and high standards were also noted in music, drama and physical education.
“Behaviour was much improved with better attendance, less exclusions, and a dramatic fall in the number of major incidents,” the report outlined.
It also noted: “Almost all students showed a high level of courtesy towards staff, visitors and one another during lessons” and “Students were polite and respectful with their peers”.
Prefects, it said, were “an exceptional group of students who cared passionately about the school and guided others to make good behavioural choices.”
The OES report gave the leadership of the school, which is led by Principal Jon Clark, a ringing endorsement when it said:
“Leadership was excellent, as the school had a strong focus on improvement which was led by the Principal and supported by the whole leadership team. Self-evaluation and development planning was good because it was realistic and based on the school’s capacity and the resources available, whilst still being aspirational,” the report stated, adding, “Students readily took on responsibilities and positions of leadership: they were passionate about helping the school excel and were justifiably proud of its successes.”
Overall, the report said: “John Gray High School was a good school that has made significant improvements since the last inspection.”
Assembly celebrates milestone
Attended by a host of dignitaries and Government representatives as well as the entire school and staff, an uplifting special school assembly to mark the school’s success welcomed performances by the JGHS Pop Band, the school’s Dream Team steel pan band and saw remarks from the Governor Martyn Roper, the Education Minister Juliana O’Connor Connolly and a presentation by the school’s Teaching and Learning Coordinator, Glenn Whewell, which outlined key items from the OES report.
Governor Roper said he was really delighted to be asked along to say a huge congratulations to all the pupils at John Gray, all the staff, the Principal Mr Clark, the Education Minister, the team at the Education Ministry and anybody who had been part of the school’s journey.
“It is an outstanding achievement to be rated ‘Good’, which is the second highest of the four ratings, and everybody should be incredibly proud of that achievement,” the Governor stated. “You are on the way to being a world class institution and, as the Deputy Governor continues to remind me and other civil servants, there should be no silent victory, so we should shout about this from the rooftops as it is something to be really celebrated.”
Governor Roper said the school was on the road to excellence, which he was sure was coming as the next step.