Combermere Slipping!

Submitted by Jefferson

Combermere School

It is with great befuddlement that I write about the accomplished Combermere School. For hundreds of years this institution has produced influential citizens like the late Right Honourable David Thompson, former West Indian cricketer Rev. Wes Hall, author Sir Frank Collymore, UNESCO award winning film director and cultural historian Owen “Alik” Shahadah and President of the Senate Kerryann Ifill.

Combermere School offers an excellent music program, are the holders of countless cricketing trophies thanks to the Head of the Physical Education Department Mr. Michael Small, Mr. Roderick Estwick (cricket coach) and Mr. Michael Worrell (athletics coach). Combermere has approximately fifty-four trained teachers including one Guidance Counsellor; most of them possess bachelor degrees with at least three acquiring doctorates. However it is with great disdain that I write about this educational institution that was once rated as number three on the island and is currently failing our inquiring young minds. Let me start with the Principal who has a taken a lackadaisical approach to managing this school that is occupied by teenagers who are academically sound and street wise. Mr. Vere Parris is an invisible principal and he is definitely imperceptible during the lunch break when children are engaging in various unimaginable activities. He operates the school remotely from the confines of his air-conditioned surroundings. It is essential for Combermere School to obtain a leader as vigilant and dynamic as Mr. Vincent Fergusson (former Deputy Principal of Combermere, current Principal of Coleridge and Parry Secondary School). Mr. Parris is known as a courteous gentleman but not one who is a strong disciplinarian or a firm believer in Combermere culture even though he is a former Combermerian.

The practice of being an absentee Principal has trickled down to some of his teachers who have inherited the practice of being fifteen minutes late for forty minute classes (but of course the principal wouldn’t know unless he has a periscope), they have a reputation for not taking class registration and failing to teach lessons that are on par with the CXC syllabus and that of the other older secondary schools thereby forcing students to seek lessons elsewhere and costing parents hundreds of dollars per month. The Combermerians who are capable of gaining national awards are forced to enroll at Harrison College, Queen’s College and Barbados Community College in order to gain academic recognition. In fact, when last has Combermere even earned a Grade 1 at CAPE Level furthermore a national award? Shameful!

The teaching fraternity at Combermere School is providing little guidance, are poor facilitators and lack pastoral care for the budding leaders and pioneers of this country thus stunting their progress. Mr. Parris needs to rethink his management style recruit his vibrant, innovative, respectable teachers like Mr. Mayers and create a competitive atmosphere for students that have become somewhat lawless and undisciplined; he needs to encourage them to positively engage their creative minds and assist them in becoming worthwhile citizens and not just be able to say I went to “Cawmere.”

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128 Comments on “Combermere Slipping!”

  1. David June 14, 2012 at 7:32 AM #


    To your last comment, BRILLANT!


  2. BAFBFP June 14, 2012 at 10:33 AM #


    Well then if you also agree with the previous comment the conclusion therefore is pretty obvious. BTW thnx, I am blush (if it were posible …)!


  3. Crusoe June 14, 2012 at 6:23 PM #


    Not necessarily. In my opinion, covering as wide a bae as possible is necessary to develop and maximise resources.

    We do need people at good positions in the large corporations overseas, to exert some opinion in our favour, that is a must,.

    I agree that we also need ingenuity and entrepreneurship, which must be developed in different ways but can also leverage connections at larg corporations.

    Hence, we need to push both the traditional subject like maths, economics, physics etc, but also train businessmen.

    Note also that trained scientists are necessary to develop ideas, whether mechanical or software developed. So, there is certainly a place for formal and traditional training, I disagree with you on that point for sure.

    However, where I agree is that we need to develop products and services that can be patented and sold.

    The bridge of our ideas is where we must develop i..e. furtherance of our model to blend the two, so that we become marketers. and sellers overseas instad of buyers.

    Note that we need good lawyers to extract benefit from trade agreements, we also need those engineers to understand how patents differ and can be considered uniique, whether traditional engineers or software engineers.

    The danger is considering and either or approach, to our predicament.

    I agree that we should not serve foreign corporate interest foremost, but working for them is not serving them, if we ensure that our interests are served.


  4. David June 14, 2012 at 6:50 PM #

    How are businessmen trained?


  5. BAFBFP June 14, 2012 at 7:17 PM #

    No David the question to Crusoe is how do you ensure that National Interests are served…! Clearly it has been our collective observation that these highly trained elite academic practitioners, once employed by multinational, either directly or through the tax payer’s purse are yet to serve in the public’s interest … and the horrifying truth is that they are NOT likely to ever truly serve in the national interest for as long as there are rewarding enticements to be had, the human gene will always come to the fore.

    Crousoe your justification represents a very small part of the required construct, in my view, to the point where I can accuse you of being guilty of putting the cart before the ox …!


  6. Crusoe June 14, 2012 at 7:30 PM #


    Training may seem counterintuitive, but it is necessary for success, in a product development way and financial. A formal training program is necessary, but also a less formal, cultural approach, of guidance, apprecticeship, creative development and alalytical thinking.

    There has to be structure within the context of technological advances and world needs, setting up a booth and selling may be business, but is not what we need to move forward.

    @BAF On the issue of who is the ‘master’ interesting isue and ultimately the paymaster does call the shots. However, deliberate development of networking and placement should go some way towards increasing influence towards the national interest.

    I am not putting the cart before the horse, I am ensuring that we have a solid foundation upon which to build the future.Thing is, we do not operate in a vacuum and to make foreign exchange we need to influence from ‘out there’ too, not just push outwards, but have our ‘friends’ pulling for us.



  7. David June 14, 2012 at 7:32 PM #


    It just seems that often times we used the terms ‘businessman’ and ‘entrepreneur’ interchangeably.


  8. BAFBFP June 14, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

    Networking at an international level and all of the service support that we are training our gifted academics to do, again in my opinion, is only an excuse to continue with the status quo. The returns to the broad national agenda is too marginal to merit the effort that is given to the type of education that is being offered today. Again, please note that I have not rejected your line of reasoning, I just simply believe that it is very over stated as a means of addressing our current needs as a developing society.


  9. Crusoe June 14, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

    Yes, I think we also perceive a difference in way each would approach matters.

    The term businessman may bring an image of a less risk taking, traditional type.

    Whereas the word ‘entrepreneur’ conjures up images of a swashbucklling money changer.

    I think the reality is that there is a distinction, that being one who sticks to traditional businesses, the entrepreneur looking at new ways to make money, to develop new ideas.

    But, sound business principles still need to apply in market assessment, idea development, production, marketing and finance, whichever term we use.


  10. BAFBFP June 14, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

    If we as a nation have as an approach to rely on people’s good will in order to succeed in the real world we then will be no better than beggars


  11. Crusoe June 14, 2012 at 7:43 PM #


    Fair enough. And we can agree that the current educational status quo, needs a revival of some kind, realting to quality and direction, however we look at it.


  12. Crusoe June 14, 2012 at 7:45 PM #

    I dont refer to goodwill, I imagine using every resource to maximise potantial and that includes using the playground’s facilities for our own good. Look at what influence certain nations have in Washington.

    That is maximising the playground for your own benefit.


  13. the scout June 14, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

    I’m glad that Cawmere has stepped down from its high horse and realise their students and teachers are no better and sometimes worse than many of the other secondary schools.


  14. BAFBFP June 14, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

    But Crusoe there is no guaranty that once placed, a Barbadian trained individual will see the opportunity to work in the national interest part his prerogative


  15. David June 14, 2012 at 7:51 PM #


    So that the solution is NOT only about educational alignment and relevance?


  16. BAFBFP June 14, 2012 at 7:54 PM #


    Most certainly not. I have over time accused you of wrapping yourself in a flag but truthfully if there is to be a true national thrust there has to be a real black and white appreciation of what having a national thrust involves …!


  17. David June 14, 2012 at 8:02 PM #

    Perhaps there is a lot to learn from the saying that – a Jamaican will create it, the Trinidadian will sell it and the Barbadians will administer it.


  18. A-Fish June 14, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

    Other news:

    Allen Stanford jailed 110 years for 9 billion dollar fraud.


  19. TheAnnoyed1 June 15, 2012 at 8:59 PM #

    What in the world did I just read?

    Firstly, there is more than one way to manage an institution. Not everyone will be as charismatic as Vincent Fergusson or Stuart Mayers, no two people are alike. Actually, many powerful world and business leaders operate from the shadows. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Osama Bin Laden are a few examples, each day you see their progress but you don’t see them.

    Secondly, unimaginable things were going on at lunch time since I was in primary school (Wesley Hall), one day an old lady flashed us to prove that she wasn’t an old man. I’ve heard of secondary schools in Barbados as a location for filming pornography by students, bathrooms of a single sex school being closed at lunch to prevent sexual activity. Oh, wait, how can I forget the school that has marijuana growing on the compound? Please explain why the principles of those 3 separate schools are not under review; are those principles also running their school from “air-conditioned surroundings”

    Thirdly, I admit, few teachers at Combermere in my opinion aren’t fit to be there, but how is it that they are adapting this from the principal who is very punctual and always gets the job done?
    Fourthly, ask yourself how many students Combermere has sent overseas to study on full scholarships. (If you didn’t know, Barbados Scholarship winners have to pay the difference If they wish to study somewhere other than UWI)

    Last but not least, as a student of Combermere, I can honestly say yes I’ve noticed a fall however; the problem lies with the students not management. This seems to be nothing more than a personal attack on Combermere. All the schools on the island has taken a turn for the worse, and it is because of the present generation which is in an even worse state.

    By the way, I’m referring to the generation that was raised by yours.


  20. Islander June 18, 2012 at 2:03 PM #

    I just sat and read this whole article, and the comments, first with consternation, then with with a smile on my face (scout(…funny guy, then this too faded in to pride and I read some replies from cawmerians and supporters of cawmere.

    Funny, how all these sayings that our forefathers left us have become so clear to me “the higher de monkey climb de more he ass exposed” the fox and the grapes story..etc etc lolol.

    Combermere is not a school, it is an institution, to be a cawmerian is a way of life. You become a combermerian on entering the school at age 11 and you stop being one when you die. We will always support our own, and each crop of younglings will be guided and supported as best we can.

    The issue of the degradation of the youth of today is not a “cawmere issue” it is a societal one, and what is happening at cawmere now is reflective of society in general. Cawmere have never been a hotbed of scholars or exhibitionist, we have never boasted to be academically superior to no one, why ? because we have recognised long time ago that a well rounded individual armed with the tools of life and supported by an army of old scholars is more important. Know this, we will take this seriously, and we will look into the source and the merit of all the accusations, and as an institution of class, we will close ranks and address the root cause in the best way possible.

    Cawmere was not build on sand, but on the blood sweat and tears of countless stalwarts, and reinforced over time by the thousands of footprints marching to the same tune of excellence, throw your stones, hurl your insults, tell us we are not a great school, tell us we are over rated, tell us we can’t………….. WE WANT YOU TO ! Up and on my friends, especially you Scout, hope you make wine with those sour grapes.


  21. old onion bags June 18, 2012 at 2:49 PM #

    You hear than scout…now that was a fellow cawmereian… I say a bit too much but holding the torch high enuff …ole friend Scout…D women does doan B EZ…Is that you Marci ..holla ?…(she massacrete eeeee.)


  22. T J June 21, 2012 at 10:30 AM #

    Overall the standards are falling. In my time (mid 90’s) you had to get over 84 average to get into Combermere. Nowadays children getting in the 70’s and getting in. As a past student of the said school we were never big on producing yearly scholarship/exibition winners as far as I can remember. Maybe 1 or 2 every 5-6 years. Just because you aint get all 1’s and a 2 doesnt mean you are not producing well rounded productive students. I was in a science form and every single person got a degree. Who aint a lawyer is a doctor and who aint a doctor is an accountant and who aint none of the three have good jobs and are pretty successful in there own right.


  23. Maria June 29, 2012 at 9:35 AM #

    This is exemplified in the results of fourth forrmers this end of term where at least 18 students re repeating and should be more as some have been “let through” despite having failed. With marks of 50 and position 4th in an accelerated class can it just be the children or have teaching methods just not prepared the students for the exam. I would think the latter.
    Never having gone over a past paper how could one be prepraed? With spanish teachers who have to constantly refer to the dictionary is it a wonder that children are failing? With teachers not wanting to be asked questions what is to be expected? Is that they don’t know the answers perhaps. With a year head more intent on pulling down than pulling up what is to be? Mind you good things are to be said of the Chemistry Biology and Math departments who still seem to know what it takes to get the good grades.


  24. Suzanna June 29, 2012 at 2:43 PM #

    I commend Jefferson for highlighting this issue for it is high time it be addressed and the relevant stakeholders do so urgently for the sake of our youth. I have a niece who has great potential and wants to excel if only given the right tools to do so at her beloved Cawmere. I have been encouraging here to transfer out to QC to get the attention and tutoring she deserves… But she does not want to leave her beloved Cawmere… And hence is suffering academically there and costing us lessons money elsewhere. Not Good.


  25. Crusoe June 29, 2012 at 4:59 PM #

    @Susanna, But you do understand that children at HC and Queens are also getting lessons, do you not?

    That was my earlier point, is that if methods are slipping, it is not at one school only. The scholarships are lessons scholarships.

    That is the issue and as I demonstrated by the FACTS I showed earlier, HC and Queens are actually underperforming severely against equivalent schools in the UK, in terms of percentage grades and hgih grades.

    So, there has to be a general approach to improving teaching methods, all over.


  26. NatashaM June 30, 2012 at 2:07 PM #

    Never in my life have i heard of 1st formers repeating. The mere fact that last year you had 1 repeating, and this year they are 2 repeating is of sincere concern. This means that this trend is getting worse year after year. I do not believe that after sitting the Common Entrance , and achieving grades to get to CS you should be repeating a form within a year. This speaks volumes of the teaching methods at the Combermere Secondary School. Also of great concern is the fact that 18 4th formers have repeated, and many going up with averages between 45 – 55% . What does this say about the results you will see in a year’s time at the CSEC level?
    Also of grave concern is the fact that the Principal of this said institution would waste time on the last day ,by making the children leave the hall one row at a time. I dont know if he saw this article and was trying to make a point , but there is no reason why children from all over the hall have to wait row by row to exit a hall , when there are 8 exits from that hall(including the balcony) . That Principal is living in a dub .
    Also on Mr . Vere Parris , earlier in this term he rewarded students for destroying furniture. Can yoiu believe that? A principal giving students free lunch from the canteen because they destroyed furniture? Only at the Combermere School.
    Can you remember arguable one of the best Maths teachers in this island retiring because Mr . Vere Paris was appointed as the Principal? It was only a matter of time before other teachers followed in his footsteps.
    Teachers do not respect Mr. Parris , Students do not respect Mr. Parris , Ancillary Staff do not respect Mr Parris , The Board of Management does not respect him, it is only a matter of time before this situation ends up like the Alexandra situation


  27. Unkown boss July 17, 2012 at 10:38 AM #

    Listen…… i cant understand you all at all… at what point in time was the Combermere school even comparable in academic status to HC and QC? Never in history that is when. I would like to say that Combermere is still doing great things in academics. And don’t say that we didnt get any grade 1s in CAPE recently because last year a couple Combermerians did… I can tell you because i currently am in 6th form and I know those specific people… including a grade 1 in maths which is supposed to be the hardest of all. Check wunna stats hear cause this int rite fa real den, many of us study hard and do great things to uphold our schoool’s 1sand this is the thanks… I hope you all gained distinctions at CXC level like i did.


  28. old onion bags July 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM #

    You go my brothersister……stroke the flag…..Long live Cawmere..that’s showing them …and we all are proud..eva ole scholar


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  30. Boy Blue January 18, 2013 at 5:23 PM #

    Who bloody well cares?


  31. boo boo September 22, 2014 at 5:14 PM #

    alright if wunna went cawmere wunna would so shut up and stop talking shit u don’t know about


  32. offended combermerian June 8, 2015 at 4:16 PM #

    hi i am currently a student at combermere and i agree that we are not performing as well as we used to in the past but i also believe that nationally at all secondary schools the performance of students has decreased significantly including qc and hc.
    combermere is still part of the top 3 and our cxc and cape marks are at least 85% and above each year, the highest i remember being about 93%


  33. David June 8, 2015 at 6:39 PM #

    Are we so easily satisfied with a performance which is explained based on where we are positioned compared to the others? What about self imposed stanards.


  34. offended combermerian June 8, 2015 at 10:37 PM #

    I believe we should do our best to get the best possible results and not do just enough to maintain a position. A lot of children these days have goals of just passing a subject and not a goal of getting 80 or 90% that’s a reason why standards will fall at combermere and island wide.
    Also please note that we had a few exhibition the past few years and we continue to send children overseas in scholarships btw


  35. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 5:46 PM #

    Yet again combermere gets 0 scolarships while hc and qc received a lot

    Do you think schools like foundation st. Michaels and Alexandra are surpassing combermere


  36. David October 13, 2015 at 5:49 PM #

    You can’t blame the intake of students because the qualifying 11+ mark is up there with the top schools. This leaves the teachers and headmaster.


  37. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:07 PM #

    Exactly I think if they had a principal similar to that of qc the school would be Florishing


  38. Hants October 13, 2015 at 6:07 PM #

    @ David there is also the probability that more HC and QC students get additional help ( private lessons ).


  39. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:11 PM #

    I’m a student at combermere and our csec and cape pass rates are usually slightly below qc and hc so besides the scholarships we are the same


  40. David October 13, 2015 at 6:14 PM #

    But we all know the prestige of the top schools is measured by the number of scholarships secured.


  41. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:14 PM #

    Do you all believe combermere is still ranked third


  42. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:15 PM #

    @David that is so true when did barbados scholarships start


  43. Wondering October 13, 2015 at 6:23 PM #

    @David are you a combermerian


  44. David October 13, 2015 at 6:25 PM #

    Very familiar with Combermere, a good number of the BU household attended Combermere. What else do you what to know?


  45. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:28 PM #

    @David what us your view of the top 5 or 10 schoolso now in order


  46. David October 13, 2015 at 6:32 PM #

    The top 3 PUBLIC secondary schools, the others you can place in a hat.



  47. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:36 PM #

    @David I strongly disagree

    Cs/sms varies from year to year but around the same mostly


  48. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:37 PM #

    @David in all the years was combermere ever ranked 1or two?


  49. David October 13, 2015 at 6:41 PM #

    It was a respectable 3.


  50. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:43 PM #

    @David combermere must be included or at least tied with st. Michaels


  51. School kid October 13, 2015 at 6:45 PM #

    I’m also a student many children from the said st. Michaels and qc and hc enter the combermere 6th for yearly and vice versa


  52. Hants October 13, 2015 at 6:52 PM #

    Traditionally students with the highest marks at 11 plus opted to go to HC and QC.

    That is why students from those schools won the most Barbados Scholarships.

    What has changed ?


  53. Curious onlooker October 13, 2015 at 6:54 PM #

    @Hants nothing has changed
    But combermere is still ranked in the top 3


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