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PRESS RELEASE: Montessori Schools Stand Out in 2019 Cayman Islands OES Report

PRESS RELEASE: Children Succeed When You Let Them Lead – Montessori Schools Stand Out in 2019 OES Report

Prospect, Grand Cayman, October 2, 2019 – Of the four private schools that qualified for a rating of “GOOD” by the Office of Education Standards last year, three of them were Montessori schools, and with GOOD reason.

Developing essential skills in a nurturing Montessori Toddler environment.

Three of the five Montessori schools currently operating in Cayman underwent a full inspection by the Office of Education Standards in the 2018 – 2019 academic year: Montessori By The Sea, Starfish Village / Village Montessori, and Island Montessori. All three schools earned the overall performance rating of “Good,” in addition to one other private school, Cayman Prep and High School. Along with Little Trotters, a private early years centre that was judged “Excellent,” and The Lighthouse School from the public sector, these were the only schools to earn an overall rating of “Good” or higher.

The effectiveness of key principles in Montessori education, such as its focus on student-directed learning, on connecting with a child’s unique learning style and interests, and on building upon the child’s intrinsic motivation to learn, is well-documented and continues to gain increasing acceptance in mainstream education. In its September 2019 Annual Report, the Cayman Islands Government Office of Education Standards (OES) acknowledged the effective quality of teaching and the strong focus on student-led learning in Cayman’s Montessori schools:

“Montessori curriculum schools feature prominently amongst the group of higher performing private schools… Of the four schools whose overall performance was judged to be good, three followed a Montessori curriculum in most classes. In these schools, Montessori philosophy and methods formed the basis to approaches to teaching. In such contexts there is a strong focus upon students’ responsibility for learning and resources are carefully selected to facilitate students’ motivation and engagement. Inspectors found the quality of teaching in the Montessori schools to be effective because staff planned with due care and attention to the interests and learning needs of the students in their care. Behaviour was good because lessons motivated students and there was a good balance between child-led and adult directed activities.”

MBTS’s well-established Montessori Elementary program serves children in Grades 1 – 6.

While Montessori education is most often associated with early-years or preschool learning, more and more Montessori schools around the world have programs that extend into the Elementary and even Secondary years. In Cayman, Montessori By The Sea in pioneered its Lower Elementary Program (ages 6 – 9) in 2003, and growing demand from the community led to expansion into Upper Elementary (ages 9 – 12) in 2006. Starfish Village / Village Montessori also recently launched its own Lower Elementary program in 2018-2019, and Island Montessori offers a Primary program for children up to Year 2.

Currently, Montessori By The Sea is the only Montessori school on-island to offer an established Elementary program for children up to Grade 6 (age 12). It cross-references U.K. and Cayman Islands National Curriculum objectives with its own comprehensive Montessori curriculum, to ensure a successful transition for its graduating students, who continue to traditional school systems after Grade 6. Its consistent level of academic attainment in the Elementary level, particularly in Mathematics, was cited in the school’s 2018-2019 full inspection report:

“Most Elementary students showed good attainment in assessments and during observed lessons. Most of the students had levels of knowledge and skills that were in line with international standards but in Elementary attainment was above international standards for a majority of students.” Montessori By The Sea Full Inspection Report, 2019

The cultivation of the individual child’s independence – at every phase of development – is integral to an authentic Montessori education. In the early years, this is very evident in the Montessori child’s ability to independently manage themselves and complete practical tasks:

“The children chose independently from a wide range of natural and authentic resources. Most children used the toilet, washed hands, prepared their own snacks, set the table and tidied their work areas independently. These activities effectively supported the children’s growing independence, confidence and responsibility.”Starfish Village / Village Montessori Full Inspection Report, 2019

“Most managed their personal needs with appropriate levels of independence and were encouraged to assist with various class duties when necessary. The Casa children, for example, helped clear away and clean their areas after lunch and they tidied their work areas independently.” Island Montessori Full Inspection Report, 2019

In the Elementary phase, this is refined and becomes even more evident in the students’ ability to actively organize and be accountable for their tasks, work and time. In the Montessori setting, students lead and direct a significant portion of their own learning, with the responsive, keenly-attuned support of observant teachers:

Children make independent choices in a Montessori environment.

“Students showed very positive attitudes to learning throughout the school and developed a high degree of responsibility for managing their own time and workload. Students did this well and made choices about exploring topics in greater depth… Students were encouraged to apply their learning to situations beyond the classroom and engaged in critical thinking, such as presenting proposals to combat climate change on a trip to the Montessori United Nations convention…

Teachers had secure subject knowledge and applied the Montessori approach successfully… Teachers intervened with questions that moved students to the next level of thinking. The small group approach ensured high student engagement and continuous interaction between teachers and students. Teachers generally varied strategies to extend higher achieving students and support those with special educational needs…” –Montessori By The Sea Full Inspection Report, 2019

The emphasis on the child’s ability to balance rights and responsibilities lends itself to developing a strong sense of self and a deep sense of responsibility to the community. In all three Montessori schools, positive behavior and respect for self and others were cited as key strengths:

Time management, self-motivation and responsibility are all part of learning at MBTS.

“The children’s social skills were excellent. All children were developing the skills necessary to interact with others in a variety of contexts. For example, they welcomed visitors to school and demonstrated important traits such as respect, co-operation and kindness. At all stages the children were well-behaved and enjoyed positive relationships with their teachers and peers.” – Island Montessori Full Inspection Report, 2019

“The positive and caring ethos in the school which was based on mutual respect between adults and children… The excellent behaviour of the children; the children were polite and respectful in their interactions with adults and their peers and most demonstrated resilience in their learning;”Starfish Village / Village Montessori Full Inspection Report, 2019

“Positive behaviour for good learning was excellent in all phases… All students showed positive attitudes and were ready to learn. They behaved well in lessons and in the outside play areas. In student surveys and discussions with students all reported that they felt safe, cared for and supported… A parent commented that the ‘best thing about the school is the way it nurtures a love for learning’… Students loved their school and appreciated the opportunities open to them. Effective practices such as a student-led council supported the resolution of any minor differences.” Montessori By The Sea Full Inspection Report, 2019

Montessori’s focus on student-led learning and the development of the whole child, and its child-centered principles, methodology and learning environments are still revolutionary, despite being established for over a century. In the Cayman Islands, it is heartening and progressive that the government’s own Office of Education Standards has given Montessori schools their due recognition.

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For almost 20 years, Montessori By The Sea has been providing excellent, inspired and child-centered Montessori education to the Cayman Islands. Montessori By The Sea is located at 277 Prospect Point Road, and is the only school in the Cayman Islands to offer a comprehensive, internationally-recognized Montessori program for children ages 21 months to 12 years old (Toddler to Grade 6/UK Year 7). To book a tour, please e-mail kourtni@mbts.ky or call 947.0684, or visit www.mbts.ky.

 

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