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No Mr. Thwaites! Bad idea!

  A plan for a special school, aimed at aiding pupils displaying difficult behaviour to receive the help they need, is being shelved by Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites. The plan for the special school to support pupils with behaviour difficulties was thought up by the former Government, The Jamaica Labour Party.

The buildings are now being allocated to enable the expansion of a sixth Form for Munro College and Hampton School for Girls.

As positive as the sixth form creation story is, it is extremely sad that teachers and students facing already difficult conditions will be subject to more anti-social and disruptive behaviour from a number of pupils with behaviour, social and emotional difficulties.

According to Mr. Thwaites, what we are seeing is the "transformation of what was going to be a child prison up at Munro, into an uplifting place of higher education for the students of South East St Elizabeth and the whole parish".

A centre geared towards pupils with behaviour, social and emotional difficulties is not a prison and will not become a prison if the tools and support mechanism used to support the pupils are tailored towards their overall well being and development. believes this is an incorrect move by the Education Ministry. Teachers are complaining about the intolerable behaviour of some of the students they have to teach. The teachers are also concerned about the effects that these students have on the learning of the other students in their classes.

According to the Education Minister, "Deviant behaviour is best attended to within the community where the students come from and will have to return to".

It is okay to promote a policy of working with these students in their communities, however it is not okay to subject teachers and students to violent, unsafe, inappropriate behaviour, which will affect the teaching, learning and progress of the pupils. These pupils need to be taught separately, until it is established they are once again ready to be re-integrated into mainstream education.