Home

Celebrating CFS Successes: One Year Later

 

Do you know what Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) are? I bet if you asked any school leader who successfully completed the Child-Friendly Schools Leadership Online Course they could tell you. Democratic participation, inclusiveness, protection and child-centred pedagogy are tenets that they would immediately describe to you. Having completed the CFS course, school leaders have embarked on creating a participatory space for children, and an environment that fosters healthy learning, protects children’s well-being as well as their rights, and provide equal opportunities for all learners. These are features fully outlined and supported by the CFS model.  The CFS Leadership Online Course includes two levels: CFS Global which focuses on the foundational principles of the CFS model from a global perspective and CFS Jamaica (CFSJ) which provides the local contexts to which these principles may be applied. The CFSJ component of the course has transformed over 600 participants who have completed since the launch of the course one year ago on January 30, 2020.

The CFS Journey

The journey began with identifying schools from each educational region that embraced the tenets of CFS. Research was conducted to ensure the customised design of the course and schools with best practices were selected to support the content curated for the course. The preliminary school visits were instrumental in formulating the digital content of the course and subsequent filming activities revealed that our school leaders were already embracing the CFS principles. At the end of the filming activities, it was evident that school leaders had a clearer vision of their practice and were ready to improve the pedagogical approaches and principles of their schools.

The CFS Jamaica modules include Responding to Emergency and Conflict Situations; Learning and Teaching; Health Issues and Controls, Managing Maladaptive Behaviours, Promoting Positive Behaviour, Conflict Resolution; Inclusivity and Gender Sensitivity; School Community Links II; CFS Design and Construction; and MoEYI Policies and Scaling Up. The CFS course was greatly augmented by the interactions and collaboration among the various partners including the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI), the National College for Educational Leadership, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Mrs. Suhina Minocha, the UNICEF intern from the University of Pennsylvania. This was truly a period of enlightenment, as each stakeholder sought to raise the bar for our children. The collaboration led to an invaluable and well needed course that fully supports the ideal leadership and operation of an institution.

 

Jingle and School Tours

“Education is the key and we know that

Let's fix the classroom fi deal with special needs

And help the students with disability

Engage the vendors, teachers, and students to build the society”

Above are powerful words from the jingle created by a group of talented students of the St. Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) which further resonates the ideology of CFS as interpreted by our learners.  The jingle communicates their vision and sentiments of what a CFS should ideally represent.  I can still hear that jingle in my head. Sentiments of the journey from conception to birth, and evidence of growth that has brought about the maturity of a new concept that is embraced by all stakeholders including pedagogues, students and Ministry representatives.

The journey of course continued… The jingle was used to anchor the island-wide school tours that were used to promote the course while sensitising key stakeholders to the CFS principles. The response to the programme from the various educational regions and the school levels (early childhood, primary, secondary) was overwhelming. This gave rise to 10 schools – two at the secondary level and eight (8) at the primary level – entering the Song Champs Competition that was hosted to facilitate assimilation of the content and stakeholder engagement, particularly students.

 

Numbers Trained

Subsequently, on November 1, 2019, a cohort of 30 school leaders participated in the beginning of a comprehensive pilot of the CFS Course. On January 30, 2020, 27 successful school leaders from this cohort gathered at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel to be certified and inducted as CFS Principal Ambassadors.

To date, 617 school leaders have completed the course across eight cohorts with only two cohorts awaiting certification. Currently there are 200 school and system leaders awaiting the start of Cohort 9 and 250 the start of Cohort 10. The reviews and testimonials have been numerous; too many to recite, and too many participants to name. As we celebrate this one-year anniversary of CFS, we have agreed to illuminate the relevance of this life-changing course and the endeavours that these over 600 school leaders have embarked on. Covid-19 cannot confine the practicality and necessity of CFS; it is a mere agent that has effected proactive change through a deep awareness that has anchored every effective leader for such a time like this.

 

Innovations

Murals were designed around the four principles to promote CFS awareness. If one should journey to the Upper Rock Springs Primary and Infant School in Hanover, they would be greeted with murals that appeal to visual learners. Research has proven that murals enhance the aesthetics of a school as they improve and liven the spirits of all stakeholders who enter the space. Their use can be seen as a multidisciplinary approach to effecting positive change which is ultimately the aim of the CFS course. Thanks to the CFS course and the collaboration among CFS Principal Ambassadors. If one should take a school tour from Morant to Negril point, the vision and impact of the course would be certainly evident.

Another compelling innovation that was spearheaded by a school leader is the design and implementation of the CFS Charter for the Waterford High School in St Catherine. The Charter was used to guide the operations of the school. It placed great emphasis on the integration of the psychosocial aspect of the principles used to support teachers and other stakeholders based on the unprecedented times that pandemic has thrust upon us all. These innovations were responsive and contextual in modifying the principles of CFS to meet their school’s context, especially at a time when Covid-19 has levelled the educational landscape, forcing leaders to innovate or “tun dem han mek fashion”. One thing for sure, all hands were on deck. CFS charters, murals, peace gardens, rooms, handbooks, and other innovative ideas will definitely enhance the administrative, physical, infrastructural, academic and psychosocial aspects of schools.

 

Plans for the Future

The 27 CFS Principal Ambassadors will continue to collaborate and forge partnerships that will bring into focus the Conventions of the Rights of The Child (CRC), thereby embodying the integration of the CFS model. By all indications, access, enrollment and the successful completion of the course is the desire for the over 200 applicants in waiting. Child-Friendly School (CFS) Principal Ambassadors are already making an impact within their school spaces and we believe that as our school leaders collaborate the model will be further augmented and contextualised. Though Covid-19 has significantly impacted the progress of CFS implementation, school leaders should be commended for their intuitivism and commitment to embodying the CFS principles in their school spaces. The impact that the CFS Leadership Online Course has had on the nation’s education landscape surpasses its one year of existence.

Every school must be child-friendly!

#happychildrenhappynation


About the Author

Mrs. Camielle Michael-Patterson has been involved in the transformation of education in Jamaica for over 17 years.  She is a graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University and the Mount Saint Vincent University with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. A former Primary Mathematics Coach with the Ministry of Education Youth and Information, Mrs. Michael-Patterson’s professional vision and growth mindset is grounded in her beliefs in the 21st Century teaching/learning styles through conceptual understanding and problem solving, as well as the development of critical thinking skills.  She has also gained a wealth of knowledge and international experience whilst serving as an elementary Mathematics and Science teacher in Virginia and North Carolina. It was her exposure to the international and local education systems that led her to champion the quest for supporting and creating world class leaders, and thus joined the team at the College in January 2019. She is one of the College’s four Programmes Managers and has oversight for the coordination, design, development and delivery of assigned training programmes.

Mrs. Camielle Michael-Patterson continues her sojourn in education, as she continues to contribute to developing leadership excellence with her mantra being “Leadership is Stewardship”.

Add new comment