June 2016 Volume 13

The Governance of Anglican Church Schools in Jamaica

Peter-John Gordon
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The Christian Church in Jamaica was responsible for the formation of many of the educational institutions which have developed over the past 200 years.  Many of these institutions were built on lands owned by the Church, often with the help of members of the church. 

Today the Anglican Church owns and operates 79 Basic Schools; 26 Infant, Primary and All-Age Schools in addition to 65 Primary and All-Age schools leased to the Government.  The Church operates 9 Preparatory Schools; 11 High Schools and one Teachers’ College (Church Teachers College in Mandeville). 

The 11 high schools are:

  1. Black River High School
  2. Bishop Gibson High School
  3. deCarteret College
  4. Glenmuir High School
  5. Kingston College
  6. Muschett High School
  7. Ocho Rios High School
  8. St. Jago High School
  9. St. Hilda’s Diocesan High School
  10. St. Hugh’s High School
  11. The Queen’s School

Kingston College is the only all-boys institution on the list. deCarteret College started as an all-boys school but has since become a co-educational institution.  Bishop Gibson, St. Hilda’s, St. Hugh’s and The Queen’s are all-girls schools.  Of the 11 high schools, eight are classified as traditional high-schools and the other three are classified as upgraded high schools.

Although these schools were started by and owned by the Anglican Church they are the recipients of grant-aided funds from the Government of Jamaica.  Acceptance of these funds means that these schools must conform to governance regulations stipulated by the Ministry of Education and enacted in law via the Education Code.

The schools are managed by their Boards of Management.  The Church exercises its control over its schools primarily through the members of the Board which it nominates.  The Church nominates the Chair of the Boards of its schools.  Not all Church Appointees to Boards of Church Schools have been Anglicans. 

Kingston College has had non-Anglicans named by the Bishop of Jamaica as representatives of the Anglican Church on the Board, and in fact the Bishop of Jamaica on several occasions has named a non-Anglican as Chairman of Kingston College.

There is another avenue through which the Anglican Church exercises a direct input (i.e. outside of its members on the Board) in the running of its schools and this is stipulated in law.  This avenue is in the appointment of the principal of church owned schools.  This prerogative has not resulted in an exclusive appointment of Anglicans to the post of principal of Anglican schools.  Kingston College has had non-Anglicans appointed principal on more than one occasion.  It would be a fair expectation that the Church would not name a person to represent it on the Board of or give its consent to anyone becoming principal of one of its school, if that person was hostile to its ethos.

The Board of Kingston College is made up of 16 individuals.  Excerpts from the Education Code (1980) are presented below which will help readers to understand the management mechanism of a school like Kingston College.
In the code, "church school" means a public educational institution owned and operated by a religious denomination; "Commission" means the Teachers Service Commission; and "Council" means the National Council on Education established under the National Council on Education Act.
Section 70 of the Education Code articulates the membership of the Board as follows:
70.-(1) Every secondary public educational institution which is owned by a denomination and which is government-aided shall be administered by a Board of not more than nineteen members appointed by the Minister in the following manner-

(a) Seven members including the chairman nominated by the denomination;
(b) The principal of the institution;
(c) One member nominated by the Council;
(d) Four members elected in the following manner-
(i) one by the academic staff;
(ii) one by the administrative and clerical staff;
(iii) one by the ancillary staff; and
(iv) one by the student council;
(e) Three members elected as follows-
(i) one by the Old Students' Association where such an association exists;
(ii) one by the Parent Teachers' Association where such an association exists; and
(iii) one by a recognized local community group:
(f) Three members nominated by the Board for their particular expertise.

Section 72 of the Code deals with Trust Schools (like Wolmers, Munroe College and Hampton High Schools) which are owned by Trusts, not Churches:

72. The provisions of regulation 70 shall apply to membership of a Board of a public educational institution operated by a Trust with the modification that the seven members including the chairman nominated under paragraph (1) (a), shall be nominated by the Trust.

The responsibilities of the Board are set out to include:
89.- (1) The Board of Management is responsible to the Minister for the administration of the institution for which it has been appointed and in discharging its responsibilities the Board shall be responsible for-

(a) the conduct, supervision and efficient operation of the institution;

(b) ensuring that proper books of accounts and other matters in relation to the assets and liabilities of the institution and to all sums of money received and expended by the institution are kept in strict accordance with such financial regulations as may be prescribed for public educational institutions;

(c) submitting to the Minister at such time and in such manner as may be prescribed, such returns, statements, reports, forms and other documents relating to the conduct and maintenance of the institution as the Minister may require;

(d) arranging for the accounts of the institution to be audited by an auditor approved by the Minister and for submitting such audited accounts as may be required by the Minister;

(e) appointing in consultation with the principal, the academic staff, the bursar, secretary-accountants and such other administrative and ancillary staff as are approved for the establishment of the institution; and such members of staff shall be paid such salary and other allowances as the Minister may approve and shall be eligible for such leave and other fringe benefits as may be determined by the Minister, and the appointment and termination of appointment of such members of staff shall be on such terms and conditions as may be approved by the Minister;

(f) dealing as prescribed in these Regulations with breaches of discipline by or against members of staff and students of the institution;

(g) dealing as prescribed in these Regulations with the appointment, termination of appointment, promotion, demotion, suspension from duty and other personnel matters in relation to members of staff of the institution;

(h) approving the guidelines and sanctions concerning school behaviour and such rights and responsibilities of students as may be worked out and approved in joint consultation between staff and students of the institution and presented to the Board.

(2) The Board may, if it sees fit, delegate to the principal of the institution, responsibility for the matters specified in paragraph (1) (e). [At Kingston College the hiring of teachers, line administrative staff and ancillary staff is delegated by the Board to the Principal.]

43.-(1) The appointment of every teacher in a public educational institution shall be made by the Board of Management of that institution after consultation with the principal of the institution and shall be subject to confirmation by the Minister.
The procedure for the appointment of a principal of a Church (and Trust) owned government aided school in Jamaica is outlined in Schedule B of the Education Code.


  1. The following procedures shall be adopted with a view to selecting a candidate for appointment as a principal of a public educational institution-
  2. the Board of Management of the public educational institution shall inform the Minister of the vacancy, which shall be advertised in the press;

(c)  the Board shall, subject to paragraph (2), and having regard to the criteria for the appointment of principals laid down by the Minister, submit to the Commission a list of all applicants together with details of their academic and professional qualifications, teaching and other work experience and other particulars and stating the name of the applicant whom they consider to be acceptable for appointment; so, however, that if they consider each of a number of applicants to be acceptable, they shall set out the names of the first two or three in order of preference;

(e)  the Minister shall notify the Board of his decision.

2.  When the Board of Management of any public educational institution owned or administered by a religious deformation proposes to make a submission under sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph 1 they shall consult with the head or the proper authority of that denomination in Jamaica and shall indicate the name or names in order of preference as required by that subparagraph and as approved by such head or proper authority.

The appointment of a person to be principal of a school such as Kingston College is a three step process.  The first is that the Board identifies someone who it considers to be suitable for the position.  That person’s file is submitted to the Bishop of Jamaica for his consent.  This step gives the Bishop (not his nominees - Board Members or surrogates) veto power over the appointment of a particular person to the post of principal in an Anglican school.  Once these two steps have been satisfied in the affirmative the nominee must be subjected to the consent of the Government via the Minister of Education.  The government’s consent is de facto obtained by the Commission’s consent that the nominee has met the government’s guidelines for a person to be appointed principal of a government aided school.

The Education Code can be found in its entirety at

Peter-John Gordon is a KCOB and Board Member of Kingston College

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