24 January 2020
“The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.
Here on St Helena we are very fortunate. SHG recognises a child’s right to education and through the Education Ordinance, 2008, ensures that we are legally bound to provide education to all children from the age of five through to 16 (compulsory education). In addition, opportunity is given for Nursery and Post-School Education (non-compulsory education) therefore all children from ages 3-18 have the opportunity to be educated.
Education for all children on St Helena is free. We have four schools on the Island, three are primary schools – Harford, Pilling, and St Paul’s – and one is a secondary school – Prince Andrew School. All children have access to free school resources to support their learning and development and all children are given the privilege of accessing free transportation to and from their respective school.
The curriculum that we follow broadly models that of the National Curriculum for England, 2014. Our curriculum differs in that we ensure that the culture, customs, heritage and needs of St Helena are considered and incorporated. We strive to offer a broad and balanced curriculum within the available resources. Our curriculum subjects include Mathematics, English, Science, Marine Science, Information Technology (IT), History, Geography, Music, Physical Education (PE), Religious Education (RE), Personal, Social, Health & Citizenship Education (PSHCE), Art, Agriculture and French. We also offer Child Development, Food Technology, Design & Technology and Enrichment (which includes a mix of activities such as archery, walking, music, agriculture etc) in secondary education. At primary level we also have Circuit sessions which includes a rotation of different activities such as gardening, crafts, cooking, needlework and dance.
Through our curriculum, children are given the opportunity to learn and develop their talents and we ensure that as far as possible we provide opportunity for them to showcase these. Some of these opportunities include sports tournaments throughout the year in athletics, swimming, football, rounders, netball and cricket. We host entertainments for children interested in dance, music and drama. Children with talents in art can showcase these through the Jean Beadon Art Competition and for those who are gifted in the academic subjects we have awards, celebration, and prize presentations throughout the year. We also recognise good role models and those who demonstrate good community spirit and support.
In Education, we also help to raise awareness during themed events such as Making March Marine and Environmental Week. In terms of health promotion, we encourage healthy lunchboxes in our schools along with ‘Fruity Fridays’, ‘No chips and Chocolate Wednesdays’, ‘Thirsty Thursdays’ and ‘Walking Wednesdays’ and we ensure that children have at least two hours of physical exercise per week on the curriculum. We also educate and participate in initiatives such as Denim for Diabetes, Healthy Heart Month, World Mental Health Day, White Ribbon Day etc.
The views of our school population is important to us and we ensure that all children have a voice. Each school has a School Council made up of a male and female representative from each year group. These councils give support by voicing the concerns and opinions of their peers and promoting their school in the Community. The recent re-launch of the Youth Parliament provides another opportunity for our young people to have a voice in what is happening on St Helena.
Across our system we have children with a wide range of special educational needs and disabilities. On St Helena we offer an inclusive education system therefore we endeavour to cater for all children and strive to meet their needs as far as possible with the resources that we have. We have a multi-agency approach with our schools supported by an Inclusion Service, the Health, Children & Adults Social Care, and Police Directorates.
To ensure we operate fairly and consistently all schools have a range of policies to follow which are approved by our Education Committee. These include, but are not limited to, Whole School Positive Behaviour Policy, Anti-Bullying Policy, Equality & Diversity Policy, Safeguarding Policies, Health and Safety Policies, and Curriculum Policies.
Our schools also play an important role in our community with events such as The Festival of Lights, Advent Services and Christmas Parades keeping the community spirit alive.
In addition to providing education for our children we also offer further education and training for our young people and adults. We are able to support a Scholarship Award Scheme which provides opportunity for our students to aspire to continue their studies to degree level.
We also offer the Apprenticeship Scheme which gives opportunity to our Year 11 students to engage in work-based training and development and to further their studies.
The St Helena Community College provides a wide range of courses and training opportunities through face to face taught courses or distance learning. To date, we offer over 263 courses and have 903 students registered.
We have a Public Library that supports education and learning. Membership of the Library is 1,004 people – 750 adults and 254 junior members. Statistics show that, on average, 1,600 books are processed each month.
A new addition to the Directorate is the St Helena Research Institute. This body ensures that all research conducted on St Helena is carried out responsibly and that all knowledge gained is recorded and kept for future generations referral.
All of the above could not have been achieved without the support of our staff. Across the Education & Employment Directorate we have a committed team of staff who strive to work together for the good of education on St Helena, combining teaching with studying and home life. All staff are valued for the work they do in the promotion of education for the good of St Helena.”
Director of Education, Wendy Benjamin
24 January 2020