Caribbean islands call in Sunderland University to help with teacher shortage

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THE reputation of teacher training at the University of Sunderland has reached tropical shores.

In a bid to increase the pool of home-grown teachers in the Cayman Islands, the Ministry of Education has reached out to the Wearside university, sparking an education collaboration to offer a local postgraduate teaching course.

Thirteen would-be teachers have now begun the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) one-year course, including 10 Caymanians.

All of the graduates are professionals, recently working in other fields, who have opted to make a career changing decision to teach.

Sue Cooke, head of the department of education at Sunderland University, says this is an exciting new development for its established PGCE by Independent Distance Learning, which has operated overseas for more than a decade and has about 250 students every year.

She said: “I welcomed the opportunity to meet with the students and their mentors in Grand Cayman, in September, to provide mentor training and an induction to the programme for students, mentors and the Ministry.

“Everyone is very keen and enthusiastic about the opportunities working with the university offers to the Cayman Islands.

“I wish the students every success on this very challenging and time-consuming programme.”

Manager for the programme, Cetonya Cacho, the former principal of Bodden Town Primary School, explained that the course is a blend of online and practical study.

The PGCE is to provide anyone aspiring to a career in teaching, with the professional training and experience necessary to develop as teachers.

Theoretical course information, readings and assignments will be provided through online distance learning from the university, to be directly linked to school experience in classrooms in the Cayman Islands.

She said: “During the school experience, PGCE students will have the opportunity to put theory into practice with the support of a mentor teacher.

“The mentors are experienced teachers from the Government’s Education System who have volunteered to provide this service.”

Mary Rodrigues, chief officer in the Ministry, congratulated the candidates on passing the rigorous selection process, administrated by the University and the Ministry.

She added: “Teaching is a wonderful profession that too many people overlook as a career path.

“Work hard and focus on the difference you can make in a child’s life.”

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull