Update report from 2008:
We are indeed aware of our responsibilities and the challenges facing us as we continue to make our contribution to the SOS School, the organisation and the wider community.
The staff complement has not changed and the school continues to be guided by the very capable and experienced head teacher. The early childhood section comprises of three areas; a large room divided by chalkboards. Registration for the new academic year went well with many community parents seeking admission for their children. Class 1 is usually greatly in demand and spaces are usually limited. As last year, the number of community children exceeds that of children from the SOS Children's Village Stony Hill.
All documents required by the Early Childhood Commission regarding the members of staff have been submitted. The recommendations with regard to the kitchen/lunch room are being addressed as the completion of these is necessary so that registration as a basic school can be completed.
An excellent relationship exists between parents and the school and the school affairs are shared through monthly meetings, circulars and telephone calls. Parents also visit the school and consult with teachers, especially on consultation day. The PTA (Parent Teacher Association) president left for university so a new executive will be put in place at our next annual general meeting.
Principal and all members of staff are determined to raise the academic performance in all subject areas and prepare students for the next level of their educational ladder.
The SOS Primary School Stony Hill (Kingston), Jamaica, opened in 2002. There are about 200 children in six classes.
Our responsibility as stakeholders in the education system is to provide a stimulative medium to discover the full potentials of the students. Principal and staff join hands in a common bond to raise the bar of teaching/learning standards in this organisation.
Except for one member of the ancillary staff who resigned at the end of August and another who has since joined as a school attendant, the staff complement has not changed. The preparatory school continues to house each grade in a single classroom with one teacher assigned. Teachers continue to assess students at the end of each unit and an examination is set at the end of each term. The results of the various examinations administered help teachers to plan their programme according to the demands of the curriculum provided by the Ministry of Education.
Registration of new students for the new academic year began in May and many parents visited the school seeking admission for their children. There are presently more community children than SOS children who attend the school.
All members of staff play an integral part in maintaining the school premises and property. All are responsible for identifying areas in need of repairs and making reports to administration. Based on the recommendations of the Early Childhood Commission, work has begun to the lunch room that serves both the preparatory and basic school. The lunch room area has already been meshed whilst three sinks and a wash hand basin remain to be installed. Other outstanding repairs include repairs to sections of the perimeter fence and replacing of the membrane of the roof, which was damaged during 2007, and tropical storm Gustav this year. With this in mind, we continue to impress upon parents the importance of paying school fees and we are resolute in our efforts to ensure that they are paid and all outstanding fees collected.
Sports and physical education are special areas of children’s school life that help them in their overall development. Despite limited resources, the sports coordinator is administering the P.E. programme and is anxious to get students ready and able to participate in national competitions. At present, inter-class competitions are being planned. This year’s annual sports day was held in March, which saw Denk House emerging as the winner. Highlights of the day’s activities were published in the Children’s Own newspaper.
In other areas of the school, special events are organised and programmes implemented under the supervision of three senior members of staff. Activities were organised in celebration of Black History Month, Peace Day, Child’s Month and Boys’ and Girls’ Day. In addition, students participated in the Spelling Bee Competition and our National Festival competition, in the areas of dance and music.
The special education system was introduced to help students who are intellectually challenged to make progress in reading and mathematics. Some have been making remarkable progress but still not enough to be transferred to the mainstream. The plan is to integrate them into the mainstream as improvement is recognised.
The prefect system is also in place to encourage in the students a sense of responsibility and leadership training. Their duties are to assist with discipline in the school and to give guidance and protection to the smaller children.
SOS Nursery School Barrett Town
Unlike the SOS School in Kingston, the growth and development of the SOS Nursery School Barrett Town rests in the hands of the village director. His efforts this year are supported by a team of teachers, a school attendant and peace core volunteers. There are presently children enrolled ranging between the ages of three and six years, with community children being greater in numbers than SOS children, This pattern has not changed in recent years.
We have completed the registration process under the Early Childhood Commission, in order to change the status from “nursery school” to “basic school”, so that we are positioned for additional benefits under this Ministry as other schools so designated. The actual process is longer than was anticipated, as they are a number of requirements that must be met. As part of the requirements, this year a school board was formed with a member of the association’s board of directors being appointed chairman. In addition to meeting requirements, the new board will serve to further aid the growth and development of the school as new ideas, new ties and a wealth of experience is brought to the table.
Outside of the requirements for status change, the Early Childhood Commission has advised that we are required to make a cooked lunch available to all students. This information has affected the overall budgeted plans for the school as this is a costly and unforeseen venture we must undertake. At the local level and through public relations efforts, we have been able to acquire funds, which will enable us to put in place the core necessities towards establishing canteen facilities for the school. We have already renovated the kitchen area of the community centre at the village and will purchase a stove and other kitchen equipment and utensils before year end.
For the most part, the challenges experienced revolve around maintenance. We were however spared some of this expense as the SOS Past Children’s Association in giving back, undertook the painting of the inside of the school as a project. The outside of the building remains to be painted.
For some time, we have been trying to replace the old playground equipment and this wish should be realised next year due to proceeds from a fundraising bazaar. Nonetheless, students are engaged recreationally as the teachers continue to be creative in organising meaningful activities in which they participate enthusiastically. The annual sports day was held in August and while only some students were awarded medals, the good sportsmanship and team spirit displayed told the true story of winners deserving a medal. The mothers, aunts and community parents came out to cheer on their children in the many activities planned for the day.
This year’s graduation exercise was held in July in the community centre on the village. Members of the national office team, the newly appointed school chairman and many parents were in attendance. In addition to recognising the children for achieving a major milestone, the occasion was used to award those who performed exceptionally well, not only academically, but in other areas such as deportment and discipline.
As part of the celebrations leading up to Christmas, recognition will also be paid to outstanding parents during the school’s end of year/Christmas activity.