English ‘study tourists’ enjoy Jamaican experience
THE Institute for Educational Administration and Leadership -- Jamaica (IEAL-J) welcomed 11 visitors from England on a reverse study tour and capacity-building exercise from April 2-11, 2014.
Academic Reader in Education at Brunel University, and President of the IEAL-J, Professor Paul Miller, led the delegation which comprised nine participants from Bay House School and Sixth Form inclusive of Ian Potter, head teacher; David Wiltshire, a member of the board of governors; two teachers and five students along with one educational leadership student from Brunel University.
Participants visited Yallahs Primary, Penwood High, Mountain View Primary, College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), Sandy Bay Primary, Lucky Valley Primary, Pear Tree Grove Primary, St Jago High, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Iris Gelly Primary and Rise Life Management with an aim to explore education in a Jamaican context.
A joint public lecture was also given by Potter and Wiltshire at the University of Technology (UTech) on April 5.
The study tour was facilitated in alignment with the aims of the IEAL-J which are: (a) to research leadership issues related to actors in education, such as teachers and principals and (b) to engage in activities aimed at building capacity in its members and therefore in society at large.
A series of fund-raising events and sponsorships from various entities assisted in deferring some of the costs associated with the study tour.
Evaluation of the study tour indicates that the institutions visited provided a rich tapestry of experiences because of the range of schools, colleges and education providers included in the programme.
Wiltshire was among the participants who reflected positively on the experience.
"I have achieved an understanding that I had no idea I would a week ago," Wiltshire declared.
"It is impossible to know what it is you are going to gain knowledge about without engaging in this ethnographic way. The experiences we have gained must be captured in order to enable a critique and sharing of ideas. A level of discourse around pedagogy should be the outcome of the study tour, such as how we engage pupils," Wiltshire went on.
Local educators also had their say.
"It is a shame that Jamaican colleagues have not benefited from what English colleagues have experienced. The Jamaican pupils felt privileged to be visited. Staff welcomed the mini-lecture provided by the English head teacher and it would be good for them to hear more", pointed out Veronica Gaynor, principal of Iris Gelly Primary School and IEAL-J member.
"Everyone at the school talked about the visit because we have never had such a large group of foreigners visit. Please come again," said Shernette Nelson-Mayne, teacher at Lucky Valley Primary School and IEAL-J public relations officer.
"My principal is really happy you visited. The parents have appreciated the visit in giving the school a sense of pride. The central theme was about resources when we came to England and it is interesting that it has also been dominant in your own discourse," noted Ralantonio Lindsay, teacher at Mountain View Primary School and IEAL-J member.
"It feels surreal -- did we really do this? I have learnt so much from the organisation of this (study tour). I hope it will have far-reaching implications and can snowball," professed Kadia Hylton-Fraser, teacher at St Jago High School and IEAL-J secretary.