Alma Parris School Shutdown

Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

The following comment was posted on another blog by Simple Simon in response to a question from BU about the sudden closure of Alma Parris, a school that was established to serve special needs children. Is there a need for such a school in Barbados? – Barbados Underground

@David June 29, 2017 at 10:49 AM “An impassioned interrogation by Cynthia Forde of the Ministry of Education on the talk show today, why was the Alma Parris School at Speightstown closed without proper disclosure?”

You can be sure that the Ministry of Education would not dare to close Harrison College, or Lord forbid Combermere School unless there was first extensive consultation with “stakeholders”

According to M.P. Cynthia Forde on Brasstacks on Thursday, the teachers and the principal were informed about the school’s closure after 2 p.m. on Monday. It seems that the students were informed on Tuesday morning, and that the parents like the rest of us heard about the school’s closure on VOB’s 12:30 p.m. news on Tuesday afternoon. This is not good enough.

Was this a hasty decision? When did the Chief Education Officer first hear of the closure? When did the School Board hear? When did Cabinet hear? Was the Chief Education Officer consulted about the closure? Or was she simply told? Was the School’s Board consulted about the closure or was the Board simply informed? Was Cabinet consulted about about the closure or was Cabinet presented with the Cabinet paper regarding the school’s closure only at their Thursday morning meeting?

Is the school’s closure a part of the Ministry of Education’s clumsy attempts to deal with declining enrolment because of declining birth rates? And if so why Alma Parris? Is it not true that the parents of Alma Parris students have more that done their patriotic duty by producing more than the average number of children unlike those demographically unpatriotic parents who have produced a single child for Combermere or Harrison College.

This school’s closure means that these special needs students will be separated from their peers, siblings, cousins etc. come September. Changing schools is stressful for even the best of students, for these students the change will be even more stressful, and will increase the likelihood that these students will withdraw from school.

The truth is that when it comes to special needs students we never treat them as well as we treat the “bright’ ones.

A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable “mene, mene, tekel, upharsin (Daniel 5:25)”

We will be weighed in the balance and found wanting.


  • VoB must be congratulated for hihighlighting this issue. We tend to impersonalize these kinds of issues that affect minority elements in our society.

    Well done!

    > >


  • Vincent Haynes




  • That difference @Vincent is well know…very well known to me. I recognize that my earlier remarks about ‘developmental challenges’ might have been misleading but there should be no misunderstanding.

    I did catch some of the discourse and I hope that those of Ms Jordan the former Alma Parris principal were properly absorbed.

    No need for me to revisit the entire discussion but suffice to say that coming from a history that has long supported children who were deaf, blind and otherwise challenged and who were given opportunity at schools like Parkinsons which as far as I know was setup to handle a SIMILIAR (academic deficiency) child cohort of Alma Parris then we have marked time and WASTED resources to be here today.

    We should be way beyond this.

    Did you hear the remarks that many teachers are now trained re special needs but YET the ministry overall has NOT embraced ongoing training across the system.

    Did you hear about the kids who are not even scoring 30% in common entrance as we discussed above…and did you hear that these kids are in fact across the system at several schools…NOT ONLY PARRIS.

    No more prolix…the problem is long in the tooth, our educational masters KNOW the issues but for whatever reason it is being side stepped.

    If I may paraphrase David to say: Houston you know the problem, why in heaven’s name are you waiting for the freaking explosion…oops, for another explosion.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Oh gee, excuse that self like….navigating fingers on these tactile devices can be fraught with error!


  • Someone on this or the other Alma Parris blog mentioned that with progress in medical science we will see fewer children with special needs. In fact medical advances mean that we will see more children with special needs. In the bad old days children who who were born before 24 weeks gestation often died. Nowadays because of medical advances a good number of these children live, but they are more likely that a full term child to have various kinds of disabilities.

    “Progress” is often a two edged sword. One side helpful. One side painful.

    So we will NEVER overcome the need for special needs education.


  • dpD

    The long and short of it,however which way you want to pars it.

    …..Special needs children are not the same as slow learners and should be dealt with differently.

    ……The failure of succesive govts in this area does not negate the above simple fact.


  • Correct, Vincent of that there is no disagreement…

    The question is asked: are Alma Parris students ‘special needs’? And if so how are those needs different from some of the students who attend St. George secondary or St. Lucy sec.?

    The President of the Senate with her ‘special need’ as a visually challenged woman was given the opportunity to navigate your Alma mater. And before her they tell me that a WHEEL-CHAIR challenged young man attended that no elevator three story building for several years also.

    Let’s definitely not conflate kids who score poorly on standardized tests because of various life challenges caused primarily by bad parenting decisions, and poor societal practices with those who may be autistic, blind, deaf or otherwise mentally/physically challenged.

    As a nation we have a long way to go on the latter issues but have done some awesome work nonetheless thus far (way beyond those simple examples)…we however are failing the otherwise so called developmentally challenged slow learners very, very badly.


  • dpd

    Aspergers,Autism,Disabled,Slow learners….these can all be broken down further.

    My understanding is that the school was created to deal with dysfunctional children which can be found on the spectrum of the aspergers and autistic…..if that was no longer its function that was unfortunate.

    Today being blind,deaf or wheelchair bound with a fully functioning mind does not prevent one from attending regular schools once one qualifies by virtue of the 11+ exam.

    We are neither of us fully learned with respect to the various types of teaching applications for children’s development in their formative years……I shall leave it there.


  • Did Chris Sinckler go to Alma Parris?


  • Again Vincent, we thread into disagreement. Not aware that Alma Parris was specifically designed to deal with “dysfunctional children … on the spectrum of the aspergers and autistic”.

    That could not be a rational perspective based on (1) the mouthings of the Min of Ed re School equality and (2) the closure of said institution and placing the children back into the other schools previously named.

    This is NOT about being professionally grounded in the teaching applications for children’s development.

    Biologically, development is essentially the same across the globe…we cannot expect children to score a paltry 30% or less on a standardized test and then perceive that they will magically transform into wise and savvy academicians in a few short years.

    There is and has been for generations cohorts of those 30% range kids …we need to address that aggressively and honestly…as noted above they are some vocational centers on island but the overall dynamic is still dated and discriminatory.

    That is the thrust of MY Alma Parris debate.

    This is NOT about autism and related biologically sourced developmental issues and certainly not about physical challenges.

    @Hal, and WHAT if he did?

    But he is too old to have attended that school… started a short two decades ago.

    Not being rude but your query plays into the stereotype that if you start slowly – which he ostensibly did – then you will forever be reminded of that as others attempt to piss-parade on you.

    Lots of leaders schooled at Brumley secondary or ShedRoof Uni can run rings around some Oxford or Cawmere grads…alas not him tho, but just saying!


  • De dribbler,
    You are reading too much in to my question. The tradition is that if you are not clear you ask the questioner to clarify or elaborate, not assume what is in her/his mind.


  • dpD

    Some statements that you are unaware of:

    The school was started under the then Min of Educ. MAM,present leader of the opposition,who called into brasstacks yesterday and give the original thinking behind it.

    MP for St.Thomas,then a jnr Min.of Educ. when started stated on Brasstacks last week that the present Min.of Educ. who was then president of the BUT,objected to it and said it served no usefull purpose.

    The first Principal of the school stated on Brasstacks yesterday what was the original intent of the school and the training that the teachers were exposed to inorder to deal with the specific needs of the children.

    My discussion is informed by the above individuals.

    Your sources appear to be the present Min of Educ. which is not a credible source based on his previous objections.


  • @Hal, LOL. So why did you not clarify your statement then. There is a regularly used tactic to ‘ask a question’ and that one oh wise fellow is to present an interpretation of what was said.

    The burden is then yours to debunk my interpretation as wrong and clarify. Very simple.

    @Vincent, oh me miserum, what sayeth thou! I am very much aware of how the school was germinated and the views of current Min of Ed’s back then.

    Worry not about my sourcing. It is as solid as the proverbial rock.

    So if per your 10:29 you are saying that MAM suggested in her call-in that the Alma Parris was started to that end then I will have to upbraid my source (LOL)…

    I was late and certainly did not hear her comments yesterday.

    Ms Jordan’s remarks – the former principal whom I heard in part – coincided with what I was previously advised… at no time did I get the sense from her that the institution was geared very aggressively to the cohort you noted.

    No doubt children of that disposition would have ended up there but in the main she clearly noted that ten years ago she also took to St. George secondary many of the tactics, testing methodologies and operational standards which she had instituted at Alma Parris.

    Was that to say that St. George’s also had children in that ‘autistic’ cohort range too (maybe).
    But also (and moreso) they surely had kids in the more ‘standard developmental slower’ areas as Alma Parris did.

    Children at St. George, Parkinson, St. Lucy secondary and others ALSO score in that 30% and below range.

    Why take a principal trained in that supposedly very specialized area and transfer her to another type school unless (just maybe) you need to bring those skills and training to other places where they are needed just as BADLY.

    Just stating the facts as I see them, bro!

    And do always read between the lines of your informants…a skill they surely taught you at Waterford. LOLL!


  • de pedantic,

    No strategy. Just curiosity.


  • DPD

    Sigh…..we are reading the same tea leaves and our interpretation is different…… To each their own…..note our educational system is dysfunctional starting with the 11+.


  • Carson C. Cadogan

    Hal Austin July 10, 2017 at 10:56 AM


    Prodigal Son did.


  • @Hal Austin July 10, 2017 at 10:56 AM “Did Chris Sinckler go to Alma Parris?”

    No he did not.

    Did you?


  • A better question to ask the Minister is whether the present principal pleaded, and pleaded for specialized training for his teachers, and what was the Minister’s response.

    Pick sense outta dat.


  • Simple Simon,
    No. I did not go to school.


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