The principal at Enid Bennett High School, formerly Bog Walk High in St Catherine, has lashed out at the Ministry of Education for supplying the institution this year with predominantly students who scored below 40 percent average in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
Patrick Phillips said he glanced at the list of 216 students set to start attending the institution in September, and he is not encouraged by what he has seen.
“Ninety percent of the students received below 40 percent average [in GSAT],” he lamented.
“The highest grade is 73 percent, and it is just one student. Two students received a mark of 71, one received a mark of 69 percent, two received a mark of 68 per cent.”
Phillips, during a ceremony this week to rename the school, urged the education ministry to provide the school a better mix of students.
“I am appealing to the ministry to send us some students that are doing well academically,” he told the gathering that included Minister of Education Ruel Reid.
Under the GSAT that is being abolished this year, the ministry often places top-performing students at the schools they selected as first or second choices. Those students usually opt for schools considered to be ‘traditional’ high.
Enid Bennett High is not considered a ‘traditional’ high school because it started out as a ‘junior secondary’ school in 1971, and initially did not cater mainly to top academic achievers.
Since then, the name of the school has changed to Bog Walk Secondary, then to Bog Walk Comprehensive High, and eventually to Bog Walk High.
The current principal, Phillips, said the school is still not viewed as a ‘traditional’ high.
“This negative stigma continued with us being labelled as a non-traditional high school. Some of our students, because of the stigma, started this institution with low self-esteem,” he said.
Phillips indicated that the education ministry’s placement of students is fueling the stigma.
He wants an end to the stigma and to the labeling of educational institutions as ‘traditional’ or ‘non-traditional’ high schools.