“Pleasantly surprised.” This is how Granville RC Principal Martin Lumkin responded when asked to share his thoughts of his students’ performance at this year’s Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam.
He told Catholic News that the school has always had a “history of doing well” at SEA, and in the standardised/national tests.
“…always been the top in St Patrick. For the past five years, we have not had a child having to resit or be placed at a secondary school,” he said.
Like most students, pupils from the rural community faced various challenges with online schooling, most specifically connectivity issues and sourcing devices for students.
Mr Lumkin also spoke of new challenges facing First Year and Second Year students.
“Our First Year and Second Year teachers have to actually get the children to settle and get into the physical setting. [i.e.] sitting among students and following instructions before they could focus on the curriculum….and apart from the handwriting, gross motor skills that they would have to focus on…”
He highlighted some students returned to classrooms overweight and unfit. This resulted in the need for more physical activity and games as the school is adjacent to a play field.
Mr Lumkin mentioned when students returned to physical classrooms, “we realised where they were at was not where the results were showing when they did the online tests. And so, the Standard Five teacher had to do a lot of bridging in order to get the children beyond the 30 per cent and higher.”
He said although there was “concern” about a “couple” of students, all 14 SEA students passed for their first choice. One student passed for Iere High School, Siparia; eight, Vessigny Secondary; four, Point Fortin Secondary and one student, Rio Claro West Secondary.
Asked to identify one particular student who would have had a unique SEA success story, Mr Lumkin added all the students struggled but “There was one particular student who actually showed great improvement, Richard. He would have struggled in online, shown improvement in the last year and when he came in physically, he showed more improvement that he passed for his first choice.”
A soft spoken twelve-year-old Richard Rampersadsingh told Catholic News passing for his first choice, Bethany Secondary, is the result of hard work and sacrifice.
He shared that preparing for the SEA exam involved many late nights and early mornings, as he usually studied till 10 at night. When he was not busy with studies, Richard had to tend to his animals: lambs, chickens, goats, and ducks before class.
His mother Emily mentioned virtual school was “difficult”. “Wow. It was really, really hard. At first, we didn’t have a device, so he missed the first term. We did some papers home, we drop it at school. Then Sir gave [us] a tablet and we started. I have two children, [so] two of them doing work at the same time. I have one at this table, one on the other and I have to listen to Richard and the other…. Sometimes we down here, internet dropping… it would cut off, so you have to log back in and ask Miss what you missed,” Emily recalled.
Granville is located east of Irois (a region of Siparia) and can be accessed from the Southern Trunk Road driving south towards Cedros.
Emily expressed she feels “real proud” of her son’s performance. She described Richard as very quiet, hardworking and one who enjoys doing schoolwork. Richard’s favourite subject is Mathematics. He told Catholic News he aspires to be a safety officer when he gets older.