It was smooth sailing at the Reynold Weekes Primary School when the second term for this academic year got under way on Tuesday.
That was the assessment of Principal Anderson Bishop as children settled into class at the St Philip institution.
He said that despite a few small maintenance issues, the school was largely ready for another term which promises to be busy for students and teachers alike.
“Repairs were done during the Christmas vacation,” he said. “As expected there are always certain things that will need maintenance but generally the school is ready for the students. Only today we realised that there is a bathroom that needs fixing but we expect the plumber to pass by soon so that next week we should have all of those things repaired and maintained.”
Principal Anderson Bishop in his office. (Picture by Jonteau Coppin)
One issue that became apparent early on last term was the need for socialisation among the children. Teachers have found that students returned to the classroom with a lack of social skills and a hesitance to interact with their peers.
Citing the time at home with their parents or guardians because of the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason, Bishop said: “We find that we have to, for the lack of a better word, socialise them again into the school environment. It is not just a case with this school, it is international if you follow the international news. That and the promotion of social interaction are skills we have to emphasise to help develop them in children again.”
Bishop believes there have been small gains on this since the start of the school year last September, but he acknowledges it will take time for these things to take root. The school’s plan is to treat each term as a phase to mark progress toward the ultimate goal, which is having children develop academic and social skills.
This year will see the introduction of the National Grooming Policy, an updated dress code which aims to promote cleanliness, neatness, decency, respect, modesty and a sense of identity among students while still providing them with opportunities for self-expression and the attainment of general comfort at school.
Senior teacher Shirley Codrington-Drakes escorts some students across the school premises. (Picture by Jonteau Coppin)
He is on board with the new policy.
“Our colonialism taught us that we have to be Eurocentric in whatever we do from the way we dress to how we do our hair. Previously, a child was told to wear a tam to hide their locks and people questioned what was wrong with the locks. Do we need the children to look European? No. Once they are neat and tidy we are in full support of it and we have things in place to monitor that.”
Exemptions will be made for legitimate requests but generally, students will have to abide by the newly enforced rules.
Term two is also when track and field are held and Reynold Weekes’ sports term begins on Friday when they will have sports day at Rices Cricket Field.
Across Barbados, principals generally reported a problem-fee return to school. (JC)