The underperformance of many students at the primary level of the education system in Jamaica has caused the schools to be placed under the microscope and there has been an intense focus on academic performance of students and the success of primary schools in general. Tied to this underperformance are many problems that are hindering the teaching and learning process, but little focus is placed on the learning environment and therefore the school climate as a critical factor is faded in the background. School climate is the learning environment created through the interaction of human relationship, physical setting and psychological atmosphere, (Perkins, 2006). A favourable school climate forms the structure within which teachers, students, parents and principals function cooperatively and constructively.
Much of what is taken for granted in schools today are the things that will form the foundation for lifelong achievements of students. The imperatives are not only for schools to achieve top GSAT scores or have a group of students transitioning to traditional high schools, but to ensure that all the students that pass through the system are mold, shaped and equipped with the appropriate skills that will prepare them for life. Such skills include the ability to think critically, communicate well and work effectively in a team. If students are taught how to live and work together, they will be able to function harmoniously in a group, (Baker, 2006). A sustainable positive school climate fosters holistic development which is necessary for a productive contributory and sustainable life in a democratic society, (National School climate council, 2013.)
Background to the Problem
As I interact with students and teachers in various Primary educational institutions in Kingston, the concern regarding school climate presents itself. It became evident that the climate of institutions varied and that its impact can boost or hinder academic development. In one particular primary school, the climate created by the students is one of enmity, hostility and turmoil (reference needed). A good sense of this school climate was eminent as I walked on the school ground. The interaction between teachers/students and students and their peers as well as the appearance of the physical environment lead me to believe that teachers and students are not happy to be there and that mutual respect is not present. In addition, the absence of a clean orderly environment deduced that there is need for the creation of a healthy and collaborative climate which will change the ambiance of the institution and stem a better relational atmosphere. According to National School Climate council, (2007), a climate takes in major sphere of the school life such as safety, relationship, teaching and learning and the environment. How students feel about school shapes learning and students’ development.
Over the past four decades research around the world have examined and recognized...