Profile: St. Catherine Primary School 14/050
The educational philosophy of St. Catherine Primary School is based on meeting the developmental needs of all her children. The work of Erikson and Piaget provide the theoretical framework around which programs are planned to meet each child’s emotional, social, cognitive and physical needs. In addition, our existence is firmly rooted in the Catholic Ethos of a holistic approach to a person’s total development.
St. Catherine Primary is a high achieving; well sort after, Roman Catholic Institution in the Archdiocese of Kingston. It is publicly funded and is located in the volatile and densely populated, sub-urban community of Spanish Town. In the ‘Old Capital’ it is engulfed by other schools, churches, dwelling houses, shops, plazas, a prison, library, police station among others.
The school is fortunate to have a vibrant and active Parent Teachers Association, along with a supportive and informed Board of Management.
This great school is housed in a very old building which was, built and operated by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany in 1890 and later in 1924 the Sisters of Mercy continued the work. Never-the-less, this prestigious and noble institution does not have any of the basic amenities that regular schools have. We operate an overcrowded school without a library, auditorium, staffroom, Information Technology Room, playfield, canteen, swimming pool among others; however, the school does extremely well in all curricular and extra/co- curricular activities. Inspired by our Motto: ‘Only the Best is Good Enough’ and the School’s Vision Statement: ‘To promote quality education through effective and holistic teaching’ the staff continues to do its very best to ensure that our school remains current and relevant.
During the last term of the last school year I invited Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JASIF) to assess/evaluate our situation; in order that they can provide some assistance as soon as it is possible. I have also reported the matter to the Minister of Education. In the meanwhile we continue to maintain the building the best we can; however we urgently need help to improve the infrastructure as it is falling apart.
The student population is drawn from a wide cross section of St. Catherine: Children also travel from various parts of Kingston, St. Andrew and Clarendon daily, with an average attendance rate of approximately 90%. The accommodation is for 1000, however the current population is one thousand two hundred and forty-nine (1 249) with 30 classes and an average class size of 41. The academic performance is above average; where students scored 98% in 2014-2015 Grade 4 Literacy, 73% Grade 4 Numeracy; and an overall of 72% in the 2014-2015 Grade Six Achievement Tests.
The socio-economic status of the parents varies. There are those who can afford to meet their everyday needs, while there are approximately 32% who are struggling daily and find living extremely difficult. For some of these parents and children, the Programme for Advancement Training and Health (PATH) and the school’s Welfare Committee through the Guidance and Counselling Department, ensure that every child is supported in the best way possible.
Despite the great inadequacies, the school is an excellent institution. The staff-student relationship is one that is conducive to building a healthy working school climate. One that transcends to the wider community, which invites all major community services, such as library activities, dental nursing, community health care workers, various church groups, Lions Club, Mustard Seed Communities, and Western Union among others. As a school we are mindful of the poor and less fortunate among us. Our school community outreach programme is vibrant and active. Periodically, we serve the needs of inmates of the Spanish Town Infirmary and various children’s homes around.