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Attempt to prioritise primary review "wins the argument but loses the vote"

Attempt to prioritise primary review

Thursday 22 July 2021

Attempt to prioritise primary review "wins the argument but loses the vote"


Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez’s attempt to prioritise a review into Guernsey’s Primary Education has been shot down by the States Assembly, despite some schools having more than three times the number of pupils than others.

The amendment, seconded by Deputy Steve Falla, aimed to put the review back on the agenda, after it was de-prioritised in the Government Work Plan.

Deputy de Sausmarez wanted to reinstate it, citing numerous systemic issues, and underused schools in the West.

“Our biggest primary school has more than 560 students, which is typically larger than two of our secondary schools, and our smallest primary has just over 150 – distribution is our biggest problem.”

Deputy Lindsay De Sausmarez

Pictured: “Even with a fair wind our schools would be stuck with these systemic issues for a best part of a decade,” argued Deputy de Sausmarez, who warned of the danger of delaying the review any further.

An inefficient use of primary education sites was highlighted numerous times during debate. There are currently 660 spare Primary School places in the island, which equates to one-and-a-half times the size of an average sized primary.

Meanwhile, the Town schools are struggling for spaces, with constrained sites. 

“Two of our schools are bursting at the seams – this large disparity has a material impact on the delivery of primary education,” said Deputy de Sausmarez.

The idea received support from Deputy Mark Helyar in principle, despite his decision to ultimately vote against it due to it being one of numerous very important pieces of work.

“I confess that I do have some sympathy for this amendment. I just wanted to say – it’s not the purpose of the GWP to be tablets of stone, this is supposed to be a living document.

“There is only a very finite resource available. This plan is about prioritisation and there are going to be very difficult decisions to make, and this is one of them."

Deputy Mark Helyar

Pictured: “This is not a standard debate,” said Deputy Helyar, citing very tight purse strings.

Critically, the President of Education, Sport and Culture said it would be foolish to introduce another initiative.

“Every minute spent reviewing primary infrastructure is a minute lost to raising standards of education in our schools”, said Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen.

She was supported by the President of Policy & Resources, who said ESC already has enough on its plate.

“[The Assembly will tell] the States they’ve got to do it, without any blinking idea of how it’s going to be achieved," said Deputy Peter Ferbrache.

The amendment lost 10 to 27 with two abstentions.

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